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Freecom Mobile DVD RW LS Pro

Super slim external DL burner with the added benefit of LightScribe

High quality finish; supports DL & LightScribe; bus-powered in read modes; includes PC & Mac burning software

Price premium for highly portable design


If you’re frequent traveller and don’t want to be encumbered with a large laptop, chances are you’ve bought a small-footprint machine or even a Netbook. While these machines are great, chances are they don’t include an optical drive. An external USB drive like Freecom’s Mobile DVD RW LS Pro is the ideal companion for this new breed of small, slim Windows and Mac laptops as it provides pretty much everything you could want from an optical drive. The only feature missing is the ability to read Blu-ray discs.

Freecom’s Mobile DVD RW Recorder LS Pro (£79.99) is an external optical drive that’s both slimline (17x144x140mm, 600g) and attractive. In fact, it’s barley larger than a CD jewel case and fits easily into a jacket pocket. Encased in relatively robust metal chassis, the drive is also fairly light and includes four rubber feet to help stop it slipping from a table. But what’s particularly special about the drive is that it supports LightScribe technology. Freecom even bundles five Philips LightScribe CD-R media and a copy of Roxio (Windows 2000, XP, Vista) and Toast (Mac OS X) software to get you on your merry burning way.

A registered trademark of Hewlett Packard, LightScribe is an optical disc recording technology that utilises specially coated recordable CD and DVD media to produce laser-etched labels with text or graphics, as opposed to naff stick-on labels and printable discs. The LightScribe method uses the laser in a way similar to when plain data is written to the disc; a greyscale image of the label is etched onto the upper side of the disc. Before or after burning data to the read-side of the disc, you simply turn the medium over and insert it with the label side down. The drive’s laser then etches into the label side in such a way that an image is produced. LightScribe is niche, but it’s a cool toy.

Technology inside the Mobile DVD RW Recorder LS Pro doesn’t end with LightScribe. Not only does it support pretty much every popular CD and DVD format including DVD-RAM, but it even facilitates Dual Layer (DL) burning. DL recording allows DVD-R DL and DVD+R DL discs to store significantly more data, up to 8.5GB per side, per disc, compared with 4.7GB for single-layer discs. A Dual Layer disc differs from its usual DVD counterpart by employing a second physical layer within the disc itself. The Mobile DVD RW Recorder LS Pro accesses the second layer by shining the laser through the first semi-transparent layer.

The only downside with DL is that the layer change will cause a noticeable pause, up to several seconds. Also, while many current DVD recorders support DL technology and the price is now comparable to that of single-layer drives, blank media remains more expensive. Furthermore, the recording speeds reached by DL media are still well below those of single-layer media. In case you are wondering, the full list of supported media types supported by the Mobile DVD RW Recorder LS Pro are CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD+R Multisession, DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL, while the full supported CD formats include CD-R, CD-RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM/XA, Photo-CD, Multi Session, Karaoke CD, Video CD, CD-I FMV, CD-Extra and CD-Plus.

Regardless of whether you connect the Mobile DVD RW Recorder LS Pro to your computer using either the USB 2.0 or FireWire 400 built-in connections, it isn’t the quickest drive on the planet – but it’s far from the slowest and is more than capable. It has an access time of 100ms for DVDs and 95ms for CDs, and reads DVDs at 16x and CDs at 40x. Writing is obviously a lot slower: 8x DVD-R, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD+R, 8x DVD+RW, 4x DVD+R DL, 5x DVD-RAM, 24x CD-R and 42x CD-RW.

Freecom’s Mobile DVD RW Recorder LS Pro is super thin and gives you an optical drive that is small enough to fit into your pocket. It’s also well built and looks good. The drive even comes with USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 connections, making it a practical choice for those with both Mac and PC laptops. If you’re looking for a lightweight optical drive that can burn up to 8.5GB of data, images or multimedia files, and produces professional looking CDs and DVDs using LightScribe media, the Mobile DVD RW Recorder LS Pro will fit the bill nicely. As an added bonus you don’t even need to connect the supplied AC adapter when reading CDs and DVDs because the drive is bus powered.

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