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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

Samsung SE-S084 (the exact model we got was SE-S084C/RSBN) is a slim external dual-layer DVD writer targeted to netbooks that don’t come with an optical unit. Besides being very compact, it doesn’t need an external power source, as the required power is pulled from two USB ports. Let’s see if it is worthwhile buying this product.

In Figure 1, you can see the product box and, in Figure 2, what comes inside.

Samsung SE-S084 DVD writerFigure 1: Box.

Samsung SE-S084 DVD writerFigure 2: What comes inside the box.

[nextpage title=”The Drive”]

SE-S084 is very small as it is based on a slim optical unit originally developed for laptops, not on a unit targeted to desktops. It measures ¾” x 5 ½” x 6 3/16” (1.9 cm x 14.1 cm x 15.7 cm) (H x W x D) while a typical desktop internal unit measures 1 ½” x 5 ¾” x 6 11/16” (4.0 cm x 14.5 cm x 17.0 cm). On Figures 3 and 4 we compare SE-S084 to a typical desktop internal DVD writer.

Samsung SE-S084 DVD writerFigure 3: Comparing Samsung SE-S084 with a typical desktop internal DVD writer.

Samsung SE-S084 DVD writerFigure 4: Comparing Samsung SE-S084 with a typical desktop internal DVD writer.

The drive itself is manufactured by Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corporation (TSST Corp) and supports the following speeds:

Media Read Speed Write Speed
DVD+R DL 6x 6x
DVD-R DL 8x 6x
DVD±R 8x 8x
DVD+RW 8x 8x
DVD-RW 8x 6x
DVD-RAM 5x 5x
CD-R 24x 24x
CD-RW 24x 4x
CD-ROM 24x

As you can see, SE-S084 supports dual-layer DVD media.

[nextpage title=”Installation”]

The installation is very easy. The only trick is that you need to have two available USB ports. Since it is powered from USB ports, a single USB port is not enough to provide all the current required by this drive. The cable that comes with SE-S084, however, assumes that you have these two USB ports right next to each other on your netbook. If this is not the case with your netbook (e.g., it has one USB port on its left side and the USB port is located on its right side) you will need a cable extender, which is optional and doesn’t come with the product.

The cable is somewhat short (20 ½” or 52 cm) for using this unit with a desktop PC, but it has the right length for using the unit with a portable computer.

Samsung SE-S084 DVD writerFigure 5: Cable.

Samsung SE-S084 comes with a CD-ROM containing Nero 8 Essentials and Firmware Live Update. The first one provides all necessary programs for burning and copying CDs and DVDs, while the second one not only updates the firmware from the writer but also keeps running in the background to automatically update it whenever a new firmware version is released. Upgrading the DVD writer firmware is equivalent to upgrading the motherboard BIOS: keeping it up-to-date ensures your unit is free of bugs and compatibility issues that might have been discovered.

The greatest news for netbook owners is that Samsung SE-S084 can be used as a boot device, allowing you to boot from the operating system CD for repartitioning and reformatting the hard disk drive and installing the operating system from scratch. For this feature to work you need to enter the BIOS setup program from your portable computer and change the boot priority option to put the optical drive as the first boot device, otherwise the computer will still boot from the hard drive even if you have the operating system CD inside the optical unit.

[nextpage title=”Performance”]

We made some tests to evaluate the performance from Samsung SE-S084C/RSBN. In all tests we used Nero 8 Essentials to burn a DVD image with 3,895,552 bytes to a standard 8x Verbatim DataLifePlus DVD-R (P/N 94852).

First we burned the DVD with the internal DVD writer that came with our Sony Vaio VGN-N325E laptop (Pentium Dual Core T2080, 2 GB RAM), a Matsushita UJ-850S, which is also an 8x DVD writer. This drive took 821 seconds (13 minutes and 41 seconds) to burn this DVD.

Then we connected Samsung SE-S084C/RSBN to this laptop and burned the same DVD. It took 751 seconds (12 minutes and 31 seconds). So it was faster than the internal DVD writer from our laptop. Nice.

We decided to then compare it to a desktop DVD writer. Our desktop was using a faster CPU (Core 2 Duo E6600) but with the same amount of RAM (2 GB). Installed on this computer Samsung SE-S084C/RSBN took 661 seconds (11 minutes and one second) to burn the same DVD, so as you can see DVD burning speed also depends on your PC configuration.

Then we burned the same DVD using a desktop writer (Lite-On LH-20A1L, the one shown on Figures 3 and 4), which also has a nominal 8x DVD-R burning speed. With this drive the burning process took 456 seconds (seven minutes and 36 seconds).

So while Samsung SE-S084C/RSBN was slower than a desktop drive, it was faster than an internal laptop drive.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

Samsung SR-S084 external DVD writer main features are:

  • Speeds: See table on “The Drive”section.
  • Buffer size: 2 MB
  • Connection: USB 2.0 (two ports are required)
  • Dimensions: ¾” x 5 ½” x 6 3/16” (1.9 cm x 14.1 cm x 15.7 cm) (H x W x D)
  • Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)
  • More information: https://www.samsung.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 55.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

Samsung SE-S084 proved to be a terrific product for those that bought netbooks that don’t come with an optical drive. The reduced size and weight plus the absence of an AC adapter are its best features. Here is a summary of what we found out about this product.

Strong Points

  • Can be used as a boot device
  • No device driver installation is needed
  • No AC adapter: power is driven from USB ports
  • Can be connected and disconnected with PC turned on
  • Faster than the internal 8x DVD writer from our lapto
    p (Sony Vaio VGN-N325E)

Weak Points

  • Cable is very short for desktop users (good sized for laptop/netbook users)
  • You need to buy a cable extender if your laptop/netbook doesn’t have two USB ports side by side.
  • Slower than desktop writers