If you have a MacBook Air, or any ultraportable computer that doesn't have a built-in optical drive, the Samsung Portable DVD Writer SE-218BB will make a handy accessory. This is arguably the thinnest and most compact portable bus-powered DVD writer on the market. And at a street price of around $40, it's almost half the price of the SuperDrive accessory for the Air.
The SE-218BB drive is bus-powered, meaning it uses a single USB cable (included) for both power and data. The only shortcoming, if any, the Samsung SE-218BB has compared with Apple's SuperDrive is the fact that the drive comes in black and with a pull-out tray, instead of a slot-loading design.
That said, for those who need an portable, handy external DVD burner and reader, the SE-218BB would be an excellent buy.
Design and features
Measuring 5.8 inches by .6 inch by 5.6 inches, the Samsung SE-218BB is about as thin as a pull-out-tray optical drive can be, and is much thinner than any others I've seen. While it's generally cooler and more convenient to have a drive with a slot-load design, the pull-out tray guarantees that the drive also supports mini CD and DVD disks.
You press a button on the front of the SE-218BB to eject the drive tray, then pull the tray farther out to load a optical disc on it. The eject button only works when the drive is plugged in and powered up. If you want to take out the disk while the drive is unplugged, you'll need to use a paper clip on its manual eject hole under the eject button.
On the back of the drive is a Mini-USB 2.0 port. To use the drive, plug into a computer using the included Mini-USB cable, and that's all you need. There's no other power port or separate power adapter.
Despite its plastic chassis, the optical drive feels solid, looks good, and seems high-end. The drive also seems able to handle somewhat rough environments, making it well-suited for travelers.