Add Blu-ray support to your PC
- Easy setup, bundled Cyberlink software, quiet operation, provides affordable Blu-ray playback
- Cannot write to Blu-ray, DVD or CD
Despite doing exactly what it says on the box, the Sony BDUX10S is a hard product to recommend. With zero burning options, it's hard to imagine who this drive will appeal to.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Adding Blu-ray playback to your PC desktop just got easier with the Sony BDUX10S. This user-friendly product provides emerging videophiles with the basic tools necessarily to make the leap to HD. In addition to an internal BD-ROM drive, the package includes a copy of Cyberlink's PowerDVD Ultra software, all the required screws and cables, plus a Blu-ray tray cover to pimp your PC with.
As you'd expect, the included drive offers the same facilities as a standard DVD player with the additional bonus of Blu-ray playback (you can't record to Blu-ray media, but you can watch Blu-ray movies and AVCHD videos). However, there is one major caveat: the drive's read-only status extends to all standard-def media, including DVDs and CD-ROMs. This severely limits its appeal to all but the most passive consumers. But before we write it off completely (pun very much intended), let's take a look at what the BDUX10S gets right.
If you're familiar with the adage 'lefty-loosey, righty-tighty', then installing the BDUX10S should be a cinch. It only took us a few minutes to swap our old drive over for the new one using the supplied screws and Serial ATA cables. However, getting the PowerDVD player to work required some compulsory software updates. After a bit of thumb twiddling and region-code tinkering, we finally had our copy of Finding Neverland up and running in glorious 1080p (er, it was the only disc we had to hand).
Video quality was naturally excellent, and the drive itself exhibited swift response times when it came to chapter selections and powering up. In terms of physical operation, the BDUX10S was relatively quiet — we certainly didn't notice it over the sound of our monitor's speakers, and any vibrations were kept to a minimum. When we swapped to a standard-def disc, the drop in resolution left us slightly underwhelmed. Unlike some Blu-ray players on the market, there are no DVD 'up-scaling' benefits to enjoy here.
While you might be familiar with PowerDVD (the program ships with most notebooks), you probably haven't used the Blu-ray version before. The software package comes equipped with a range of playback options exclusive to high-def discs. This includes interactive menu support via BD-J, which is a cornerstone feature of the Blu-ray format. At the click of a button, users can seamlessly bring up Picture-in-Picture windows (such as cast and crew commentary or storyboard comparisons), access links to online content, zoom in to portions of an image as well as various other toggle-effects. As with standard DVDs, the amount of interactivity depends largely on the movie disc at hand, but rest assured, the player can handle whatever a Blu-ray disc throws at it.
(It's worth noting, though, that the BDUX10S comes with PowerDVD version 7. If you want access to the new MoovieLive features or Movie Remix editing tools, you'll need to upgrade to version 8, reviewed here.)
As mentioned earlier, one of the major failings of this drive is its inability to write to standard format CDs or DVDs. In other words, you're going to need an additional optical drive for all your burning needs. The Asus BC1205PT, on the other hand, offers all the functionality of a standard DVD writer in addition to Blu-ray playback. Most users would be better off ponying up the extra cash for the aforementioned drive, or Sony's BWU200S burner, which records to BD/DVD/CD disc formats.
On the plus side, all conceivable disc formats are supported by the BDUX10S, including DVD-R/-R DL/-RW, DVD+R/DVD+R DL/+RW, DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, CD-DA, CD-ROM (XA), CD Extra, Video CD, CD Text, and PhotoCD. (BD-AV, BD-R, BD-RE and BD-ROM are also all naturally supported.)
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