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Very netbook friendly
Review If you buy a netbook, you have to be prepared to live without an optical drive. You can add an external drive for reading and writing DVDs and CDs, but to make it as convenient as the mini-laptop, it needs to be self-contained and compact. Lite-On has one with a good spec.
Lite-on's eSAU208-16: slimline but angular
Adding a DVD rewriter to a desktop or laptop isn’t as awkward as it used to be, thanks to USB. There are plenty of external DVD readers and rewriters available, but many are built around 5.25in chassis and few have many trimmings. Korean maker Lite-On makes drives, so isn’t just boxing and rebranding other people’s.
Lite-On’s excitingly named the eSAU208-16 comes in black, red, white and blue, so should blend in with most of the latest netbooks. It also comes with a slide-on stand, so you can mount it vertically, to save space. Like any laptop-style drive, CD/DVD discs are clipped onto the central spindle.
Styling is simple, with the main coloured case sculpted to reveal a matte black insert, trailing off from a rear corner. All cosmetic, of course, but a break from the usual small, black box. The drive has the usual push button tray release and emergency paperclip hole in its tray. At the back is a mini USB socket for data and power connection and a low voltage DC input, if USB isn’t sufficient.
There are three ways of powering the eSAU208-16. For most purposes, a single USB connector should be good for power as well as data, as long as there is no other USB device drawing power from the same controller and as long as you’re not using LightScribe.
If you only have shared controllers, you can plug the second of the two USB headers on the bundled cable into a second socket. If you want to use LightScribe, you should use the power supply bundle with the drive.
Lite-On offers a power test utility, to determine if the USB port the drive’s connected to has enough juice, but the message reads: "The System can working fine, on the Power Saving of VBus Power." Alas, there was no mention of "VBus Power" and how or why i'ts Saving Power in the documentation - not exactly consumer friendly, is it? We connected the PSU for testing, in case it had an effect on performance.