Portable products typically must balance a set of contrary design goals: they can either offer fast performance or be physically light, but not both. LaCie’s Portable DVD±RW with LightScribe, Design by Sam Hecht, is one product where style and weight trumped speed and (to a certain extent) sturdiness. Even so, it’s the portable DVD burner of choice for MacBook Air ( ) owners. Just don’t drop it.
The drive draws its power from USB, so it needs to be connected to a powered USB port. LaCie includes a small AC adapter for situations where the Mac’s USB can’t provide the requisite power.
There’s no bundled Mac software with the drive, but you can download for free LaCie’s LightScribe Labeler 1.2. This program lets you create and etch the labels onto LightScribe discs (LightScribe requires special LightScribe media).
You also download LaCie’s Remote Burn 1.0 (free), which lets you set up the LaCie drive as a shared device on a local network.
The LaCie drive worked well, though the performance was typical of laptop burner mechanisms.
The drive’s slide-out tray design gives it a bit more of a fragile feel than we would like, especially for a product that’s meant to be taken on the road.
We didn’t conduct a drop test of the drive, but we couldn’t shake the notion that the plastic case might sustain damage the first time it took a tumble to the ground.
|8x +R Burn
|8x DL Burn
|DL Copy 655MB to Hard Drive
Scale = Minutes: Seconds
How we tested: We ran all tests with the FireWire drives connected to a dual-2.66GHz Mac Pro with Mac OS X 10.5.3 installed and 1GB of RAM. In our first test, we recorded the time it took the drive to burn 4.4GB of data onto 16x DVD+R media. In our second test, we recorded the time it took to burn 8GB of data onto dual layer DVD+R media using Toast Titanium 8. Finally, we timed the copy of a 655MB file from a burned dual layer DVD to the internal hard drive .—Macworld Lab Testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung
|Rated Burn Speeds
||DVD+/-R 8x, DVD+/-R DL 4x, CD-R 24x
||No Mac compatible software included, but can be downloaded from lacie.com
Macworld’s buying advice
Although the drive’s chocolate color clashes a bit with the silver stylings of the MacBook Air, the Portable DVD±RW with LightScribe, Design by Sam Hecht is the no-brainer alternative to Apple’s MacBook Air SuperDrive-while the LaCie drive can operate through a USB hub, the SuperDrive cannot. If you’re looking for a mobile DVD burner and you’re not expecting a speed demon, the LaCie drive fits the bill. The drive is also offered in a FireWire 400 version for $149.
[Jeffy Milstead is a former Macworld lab analyst and a writer living in San Francisco.]