LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW Drive with LightScribe review: LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW Drive with LightScribe

The LaCie Slim drive is a wonderfully portable burner that lets you etch professional-quality designs onto the back of your discs. The trade-off, though, is in the read and write speeds.

Brian Nadel

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5 min read

Despite its cumbersome name, LaCie's Slim DVD+/-RW Drive with LightScribe is a marvel of mobility that can not only work with most discs on the market but also etch intricate labels onto the back surface of CDs and DVDs. We call it essential equipment for those who travel or just don't want to take up a lot of desktop space with an external DVD burner. Its price is about $50 more than that of other portable USB optical drives, but it's worth it for the ability to label discs on the go. On the other hand, you'd better have time to wait for the LightScribe etchings and the money to spend on compatible discs. Also, if you're a Mac or Linux user or you want to attach the drive via FireWire ports, you're out of luck.


LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW Drive with LightScribe

The Good

The LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW with LightScribe supports double-layer discs, reads and writes most disc types, operates on power from the USB bus, features LightScribe burning, and comes in a slim, attractive package.

The Bad

The LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW with LightScribe burner comes with a short warranty, and it's incompatible with Mac and Linux computers and FireWire connectors. The LightScribe burning is slow, and the LightScribe-compatible discs are expensive.

The Bottom Line

Due to its small form factor, the LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW with LightScribe burner is a good choice for those who need a burner while traveling; however, its audience is limited to Windows users.
LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW with LightScribe (USB 2.0)

The LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW with LightScribe comes ready to roll, automatically loading its drivers for Windows XP systems; one of the two included CDs has drivers for Windows 98 or Me machines. The documentation includes a helpful quick-start booklet and a thorough 34-page electronic manual. Inside the minimalist F. A. Porsche-designed case is a Toshiba SDR6572M drive with 2MB of hardware cache to smooth the wrinkles out of disc creation. All told, it weighs just 12 ounces and is shorter but thicker than a DVD-movie case. The package comes with a tiny AC adapter and a cable to power the drive from a notebook. Its travel weight is an extremely light 1.1 pounds, and the whole thing is so small that it makes our Micro Solutions Backpack DVD+/-RW drive look like a dinosaur waiting for an asteroid.

LaCie packs a good assortment of software with the Slim DVD+/-RW drive, including Roxio's Easy Media Creator 7 (the basic version), Easy CD and DVD Creator, and DVDMax movie player, as well as Sonic's SureThing CD/DVD Labeler, which works with LightScribe. During our week testing the drive, the software balked only once at creating a disc; otherwise, we had no problems. Because the disc etcher works with only PC software, the drive doesn't come with Mac or Linux drivers. For the Mac crowd, LaCie offers a similar FireWire-based drive without LightScribe at the same price.

Based on the USB 2.0 standard, the LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW Drive with LightScribe also works with the slower USB 1.1 spec. After you've burned a disc, flip it over and put it back in the burner; you can use the drive's laser to etch a label into the surface. With technology licensed by Hewlett Packard, LightScribe is nothing short of magic--it'll make most people throw away the Sharpie markers they use for labeling discs. The software lets you either supply an image or type text onto the surface. Just whip up a design (or choose from the hundreds of templates provided), select the drive as the printer, and LightScribe does the rest, etching the disc's surface with the drive's laser. Alas, your color choices are limited to black images or text on a gold background. While the etching process is easy, it's also tediously slow, taking nearly 16 minutes to etch a simple design--twice as long as burning a data CD. Plus, in an age where optical media costs pennies per disc, the technology is so new that LightScribe CDs and DVDs cost more than a dollar each. Hopefully, the price will come down as production volume increases.

Compared to the desktop IDE and USB drives currently on the market--many of which are rated twice as fast--the LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW Drive with LightScribe is not a speed demon. It writes single-layer DVDs at 8X and double-layer discs at a mere 2.4X, but that's the price to be paid for a slim form factor. The Asus SDRW-0804P-D, another slim and portable external burner, has the same speed ratings as the LaCie. The LaCie drive edged out the Asus in ripping and burning single- and double-layer DVDs and soundly trounced it when handling CDs. The Asus took the upper hand with rewritable media, though. Both drives trade portability for speed. If ripping and burning speeds are your main concern, stick with a desktop drive; both internals and externals beat the LaCie Slim. But if mobility is key and you don't mind slower burn speeds (what else are you going to do on a plane?), the LaCie is a great choice.

DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
4.4GB DVD Video burn test  
4.4GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)  

Double-layer DVD movie rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
7.9GB DVD Video burn test  
7.9GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)  

CD Audio rip/burn tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
74:35 CD Audio burn test  
74:35 CD Audio rip test  

RW read/write tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate faster performance)
4.22GB RW write test  
4.22GB RW read test  

Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives.

LaCie stands by the drive with a skimpy one-year warranty. While the company's Web site has all the software, tips, tutorials, and FAQs you could ask for, its telephone-support line is open only on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT--and you'll pay for the toll call. A knowledgeable technician was on the line in less than a minute with the answer we needed.

LaCie Slim DVD+/-RW Drive with LightScribe

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 6Support 6
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