We've had good experiences with Addonics and their innovative storage solutions. While an external DVD burner is nothing new Addonics has added the ability to have a hardrive as well as Blu-ray player in one unit. Did I mention it can also burn DVD's? This one solution promises to be able to handle just about any media you throw at it and to get the full benefit of all this all you need is a USB 3.0 connection or an eSATA connection. The question is whether a product can live up to its promise and in this situation it certainly does. Read on to see more.
Out of the box this unit is no larger than another external DVD drive I have. This is really surprising because not only is there a combo Blu-ray/DVD burner drive but also room for a full sized hard drive. The Blu-ray drive is very thin and appears to be the type that are installed laptops. To combat the heat produced by enclosing the drives there is an exhaust fan on the rear of the unit and a nicely placed power switch.
On the rear of the unit are the connectors for the USB 3.0 cable (provided with the drive) as well as an eSATA cable (also provided). The cables are something to be seen. The USB cable has the thickest shielding I've seen. Very impressive. The diameter of the cable could pass for a power cable. The eSATA cable is also of very impressive quality. Details like this go to show how Addonics is committed to quality.
On the front of the unit is the door that opens so you can slide in a hard drive. I installed a 1 TB Western Digital 3.5" SATA drive but one thing I really like about this design is that hard drives become hot swappable. If you really have a need for massive amounts of storage you can swap a hard drive and keep working. Included in the package is a software disk which installs a suite of programs. Included are Power DVD 10, a burning suite, as well as more. A quick note, a version of this drive is available with a DVD-Burner sans Blu-ray if you have no use for that. You can also purchase an optional adapter to allow you to use a 2.5" SATA drive (laptop drive).
Setup and Usage
Installation was as simple as plugging in the power cord and the USB cable. Turn on the drive and Windows installed the drivers. From there I slipped the software disk into the Sapphire drive and installed all the programs shipped with the unit. No drama whatsoever which is really nice to experience.
The first thing I did was toss in a Blu-ray disk which in this case was Star Trek Into Darkness. The video quality and audio was everything I expected it to be. I moved files back and forth from a re-writable CD to my computer without surprises. Now the fun begins. I moved some large files onto the HD in the Sapphire and then burned them to CD-R. Next I pulled large files from a CD-R I've used to backup files to and found the transfer rate between the Blu-ray drive and HD to be very impressive. Lastly I performed the same test with a DVD-R and the hard drive. All excellent results.
I'm very impressed with this equipment. The Sapphire Combo drive handled any disk media I threw at it and having the flexibility and storage capacity of a built in hard drive is very much appreciated. Flexibility is the name of the game with this device. Having both USB 3.0 and eSATA cable connections allows different systems to hookup without adapters. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with earlier USB editions so I was able to use this device with a laptop that has USB 2.0.
The software package that was included is complete and actually quite useful. Most drives are just stuffed with software that at best would be freeware - at worst its bloatware that makes your computer less stable. This software included with the Sapphire drive is top notch and I had no problems with both Windows 7 and 8.1. Would I change anything? Perhaps throw in the 2.5 drive adapter. I was able to plug in a 2.5 drive and get it up and running but its a little tricky to line up the SATA connectors but its doable. I also want to let you know that there is a USB option available that plugs in between the Sapphire drive and your computer and allows 256=bit encryption of the data on the drive. How's that for making sure people don't steal your data? The CypherUSB option is only $29.95 which is very reasonable indeed.
The Sapphire Combo Blu-ray/HDD is the most flexible option I've come across and with its software suite its actually the easiest external drive to use I've come across. I wouldn't waste any time looking at other options right now as this one is top notch and easily the best one on the market to date.