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The Best External Optical Drives for DVDs and Blu-rays
Form Factor 3. Product was successfully added to your shopping cart. Show: 16 32 64 Other than that, it's mostly the availability and the price that give the GP65NB60 its edge—this model is almost always cheaper, and it's available from Amazon, with free shipping for Prime members, unlike our runner-up.
This design is not as convenient to see or use as a top-mounted light and button, but we had no problems ejecting discs during our tests. The GP65NB60 is coated in a shiny plastic that picks up fingerprints and dust. It seems like it would scratch easily, but in our tests it survived quite a few stuffed-backpack trips unscathed. LG covers the drive with a one-year warranty. If speed is a concern for frequent Blu-ray ripping or writing tasks, you should get our runner-up Blu-ray pick or invest in a dedicated internal Blu-ray drive for a desktop computer; otherwise, for reading Blu-rays and DVDs, and occasionally burning either one, this Pioneer drive is the best option.
In our tests, the Pioneer could get pretty noisy when ripping and burning discs, but it was a little quieter when playing a movie. The drive has a clamshell lid rather than a tray-loading design—when you press the Open button located on the top rather than the front of the drive, the top opens like a car hood to let you insert or remove a disc. If our top pick for DVD drives sells out or jumps in price, you could buy the LG SP80NB80 and get the same performance and a slightly better design, though at a price that fluctuates and sometimes requires paying a shipping fee.
In our tests, it read and wrote DVDs at roughly the same speeds as our top pick, often within just seconds. Its matte surface is a bit more attractive and less scratch-prone than that of our top pick, and its Micro-USB connection, rather than Mini-USB, means that most owners would rarely be stuck without a cable nearby or, at the least, available at a drugstore. In our tests, it was about 30 percent faster—or roughly 15 minutes faster per disc—than the Pioneer at ripping Blu-rays.
It was a couple of minutes faster at writing Blu-rays, too. The LG drive is about half an inch wider and longer than the Pioneer drive, and it weighs about a tenth of a pound more. Windows 7 and earlier can play DVDs just fine without additional software, but not Blu-ray discs. To play Blu-ray discs legally on a Mac or a Windows PC, you need to purchase software that licenses those codecs. The CyberLink software included with our favorite DVD and Blu-ray drives is a decent option—more of a small trash-can fire—for Windows users, and similar alternatives exist for people running macOS.
You can find many free programs that bypass the DRM digital-rights management on DVD and Blu-ray discs—encryption designed to prevent you from copying the content from the discs, or even playing them on certain screens—such as MakeMKV or VLC , but none of those options, whether free or paid, are legal to use in the US. Macworld also addresses some common questions about the legality and morality of DVD ripping in this helpful explainer. The LG GP70NS50 burned and ripped DVDs at about the same speeds as other drives we tested in , but it currently costs more than our picks, and its silver paint scratched a few times in our travels.
The built-in Y-cable is worth paying for only to someone who travels a good deal with a low-power laptop. This model ripped and burned at roughly the same speeds in our tests, but the USB connection felt loose, and we could feel the components of the drive shifting inside the case. If you were buying a Dell laptop and needed an external drive mostly for reading discs, this model would not be a bad add-on purchase, but you can do better otherwise.
We also encountered several errors when trying to play DVDs that worked without issue on the other drives. Blu-ray Disc recordable speed , Wikipedia, August 24, Our pick. Buy from Amazon. Everything we recommend Our pick. Photo: Michael Hession The most important features for an optical drive are speed, size and weight, and noise. Theoretically, a 6x Blu-ray drive, for example, should need only a USB 2.
In practice, however, the USB 3.