In an age where optical drives are looking increasingly quaint, the external DVD writing, USB-bus-powered Lite-On eNAU608 needs something to differentiate it, other than its RRP of AU$75.
To that end, it comes with four double-sided cards, each with a reasonably abstract design on it, save the family holding hands in a flower field. This card can then be inserted in the top of your drive (or indeed, any appropriately sized print out), through a somewhat imprecise process that'll ensure you'll only want to do it once. While you'd think this extra bit of frivolity would impact on the height of the drive, the eNAU series isn't too bad, topping out at 18.6mm high.
It's otherwise a fairly ordinary 8x external burner that comes with a USB Y cable (of which the data carrying cable is far too short at around 16cm), Nero 9 Essentials and supports LiveScribe, the HP-derived technology that allows you to burn labels to the top of specially marked optical discs. It even supports label tag — that is, burning a label into the unused portion of the writeable side of a disc. If neither labelling tech matters to you, you can pick up Lite-On's eNAU508 for an entire AU$6 less.
The reason for the limited write speed? It has to do all its writing over USB 2.0, limiting it to a theoretical 480Mbps.
Running an ImgBurn Discovery on a 16x TDK single layer DVD-R (CMC MAG.AM3) took 10 minutes and 50 seconds to fill the disc. As is common for optical technologies, things got faster as the write head reached the edge of the disc, hitting the specified 8x writing speed 90 per cent of the way through. The average write rate was 5.7x.
The eNAU does the job, but then again, so do so many other external burners. If you can find one cheap, then great. Otherwise, we'd stick to the non-"personalised" models to save a few bucks.