Sony's blazing fast BDX-S500U Blu-ray drive tests USB 2.0's true transfer chops

Here's a lesson in actual vs. theoretical. Sony Optiarc America has announced the new BDX-S500U external USB 2.0 Blu-ray drive capable of burning single-layer BD-R discs at smoking speeds of 6x or dual-layer discs at up to 4x. If you do the math, those specs imply transfer speeds of 27Mbps for single-sided 25GB discs and total burn times of roughly 20 minutes. That's great news for folks with PCs looking to use the high-storage medium or watch 3D Blu-rays -- except for one tiny hitch. See, USB 2.0's theoretical maximum transfer speed is 60MBps, but in the real world most are lucky to get even half that rate. According to tests by Techworld, those with certain USB 3.0 chipsets can even experience USB 2.0 rates as low as 11MBps. In that light, the BDX-S500U's impressive speeds -- just like Paul Walker -- may be too fast and too furious for its computer counterparts to keep up, making it a different kind of bag of hurt for buyers. While no official pricing has been offered the drive will go on sale later this month and online retailers are already listing prices in the range of $214 to $240. For full specs and details, check out the PR after the break.

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Records up to 50GB of data and plays back 3D Blu-ray high-definition content

SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 21, 2010 - Sony Optiarc America today announced its first slim, portable and external Blu-ray Disc® (BD) rewritable drive to compliment notebooks, netbooks or desktop PCs.

The new BDX-S500U model writes single BD-R media at up to 6X and dual layer BD-R media at up to 4X speeds, recording a full 25GB disc in about 20 minutes. The 6X recording speed is achieved using 6X compatible BD-R media, and one 25GB Sony BD-R blank disc comes included in the retail box. Also included with the drive is CyberLink's Media Suite 8 for capturing, authoring, editing, backing up, viewing high-definition personal content and playing back Blu-ray Disc movies including 3D Blu-ray movies.

The portable drive offers quick and easy connectivity with a high speed USB (USB 2.0) digital interface for simple setup and maximum flexibility. It can be shared between computers for personal video, data, music or image backup, making it an excellent replacement drive for a standard DVD drive while offering all the benefits of Blu-ray Disc technology, including 3D Blu-ray high-definition playback capabilities.

The BDX-S500U drive can record up to 50GB of data for random access storage and backup on BD-R (write once) or BD-RE (rewritable) discs, or up to 220 minutes of high-definition 24M bps MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video on a BD-R/RE 50GB disc.

The drive also records standard 4.7GB DVD+/-R discs at up to 8X speeds, 8.5 GB DVD+/-R Double/Dual layer at up to 4X, DVD+RW at up to 8X, DVD-RW at up to 6X, CD-R at up to 24X, CD-RW at up to 16X, and supports DVD-RAM recording at up to 5X speeds.


The BDX-S500U drive will be available through authorized distributors, resellers and select online sites starting this month.