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Samsung WriteMaster SE-W164 USB 2.0 drive review: Samsung WriteMaster SE-W164 USB 2.0 drive

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The Good Impressive 5X double-layer write rating; fast single- and double-layer burning; useful software bundle; handy drive stand.

The Bad Slow double-layer ripping.

The Bottom Line The no-frills WriteMaster SE-W164C isn't the fastest DVD burner around, but its decent overall performance and reasonable price make it a solid choice for casual users.

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6.0 Overall
  • Setup 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7
  • Support 5

Samsung WriteMaster SE-W164C USB 2.0 optical drive

Editors' note: Due to incompatibility between the Samsung drive and CNET Lab's official test bed (the drive required us to update the BIOS on our motherboard), we tested the drive on an alternate test bed. (Please refer to the notes at the end of the performance charts for details about that test bed.) Otherwise, the Samsung drive was tested using the same methodology we use for other optical drives. We also retested the Iomega 16X SuperDVD Writer USB 2.0 drive on the alternate test bed to provide a point of comparison.

Samsung's new WriteMaster SE-W164C USB 2.0 DVD burner squeaks one step past the competition by offering a 5X DVD+R double-layer write speed, rather than the 4X speed currently touted by most rival DVD drives. This slight speed advantage helped the external, USB 2.0-based drive burn a 7.9GB movie at a faster clip than the Iomega 16X SuperDVD Writer USB 2.0 drive. Unfortunately, the SE-W164C's slow double-layer rip drags it down a bit. But in light of the drive's reasonable price and decent overall speed in other areas, it stands as a reasonable solution for home and small-business users who'll use it only occasionally.

Samsung imbues the WriteMaster SE-W164C with a bit more flair than the typical beige-colored drive, making the device out of black plastics with a sculpted silver band around its edges. The drive's face features the usual LED status light, emergency-eject pinhole, and standard eject button. Its back edge contains USB 2.0 and AC adapter ports, along with an on/off switch. The SE-W164C's flat top means you can stack other drives on it, and the separate, included stand allows you to set the device on its side to conserve desk space. Alas, Iomega did not include a headphone jack or a volume control dial on the drive.

Due to its handy external design, plug-and-play USB interface, and included installation guide, the Samsung WriteMaster SE-W164C is exceptionally easy to install (unless, of course, you have to update your BIOS, as we did). The process entails little more than attaching the included power and USB cables to the drive and your computer. Flip the drive's power switch, and the device shows up in your system's registry. You can insert the bundled CD to access the electronic user manual, which provides further information on the drive. You can also use the CD to install the helpful included software, which consists of our Editors' Choice-winning Nero 6.0 suite of apps, including burning programs, a media player, and a video editor.

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