If there’s one thing that strikes you immediately about Sony’s BDX-S500U external USB Blu-ray DVD drive, it’s the fact that it’s tiny. Measuring a mere 147x137x19mm (wdh). That’s the same size as two CDs in their jewel cases, stacked one on top of another. We’re talking about an impressively small piece of hardware.
So compact is the BDX-S500U that we had to double-check it wasn’t merely a DVD writer – but no, it’s a fully-fledged Blu-ray writer rated at 6x BD-R and 2x BD-RE read and write speeds.
From a cosmetic point of view, the BDX-S500U looks very smart in its shiny black casing. Press the eject button on the front of the drive, and the tray pops out so you can load a disc, provided you’ve connected the external power adapter to the rear of the drive.
Some external optical drives use a double-headed Y cable to supply the necessary juice; however, the Sony only requires a regular USB cable as the power supply does all the hard work. On the downside, this does mean that you won’t be able to use the BDX-S500U drive with your laptop when you’re out in the field and away from mains power. Anyone with a single spare USB port on their laptop will be grateful for the choice that Sony has made.
In addition to Blu-ray reading and writing the Sony delivers the sort of CD and DVD performance you expect from a laptop drive – that is, good but not exceptional. DVD+R/-R/+RW writing speed is 8x, DVD-RW is 6x and CD-R writing is 24x.
Of course, the rated numbers are only part of the story. We did a back-to-back comparison with an Asus SBW-06C1S-U external drive which has the same rated speed and price. This showed us that the Sony took 27 seconds longer to burn 4GB of data to a DVD-R than the Asus – a significant enough amount of time, but then again, we’re talking about the difference between ten and a half minutes and eleven minutes.
The two drives appeared to run at the same speed until the end of the process when the Sony took longer to finalise the DVD. This gives us hope that Sony will deliver a firmware revision that will improve the speed of the drive in the future.
Sony includes a decent package of software consisting of CyberLink Media Suite 8 (PowerDVD 9, PowerProducer 5, PowerDirector 8, Power2Go 6), PowerBackup, MediaShow and PowerDVD Copy so there’s a software tool for every job.
BD-R/BD-RE read speed 6x/2x
BD-R/BD-RE writing speed 6x/2x
DVD+R/-R writing speed 8x/8x
DVD+RW/-RW writing speed 8x/6x
DVD+R/-R DL writing speed 4x/4x
DVD-RAM writing speed 5x
DVD-Rom speed 8x
CD-R/CD-RW/CD-Rom speed 24x/16x/24x
Tray or top loading Tray loading
Laptop connection USB 2.0
Power connection External power adapter
DVD playback software CyberLink PowerDVD 9
Burning software CyberLink Power2Go 6
Authoring software CyberLink PowerProducer 5
Data buffer 4.5MB
Dimensions (WxHxD) 147 x 137 x 19mm
Contact: 0845 6000124
On the cosmetic front, the only negative point is its external power supply. But while the power supply looks somewhat bulky, it does make sense from a technical point of view as it means the drive only requires a single USB 2.0 connection to your laptop or PC. Many external drives take up two USB ports.