As a laptop user, but more specifically a Macbook user, I immediately understood the market and need for a portable DVD burner that can handle those meaty dual-layer DVDs. While all Apple computers can handle CD and DVD burning, none are built with burners that can write to a dual-layer DVD and neither are many optical drives in general. Furthermore, the DVD burning process itself can be fairly trying on your drive’s optical lens over time, so it’s really not something you should do often on your primary optical drive. Having a portable drive on hand can be handy should you need to burn something.
That being said, you probably already know the benefits of having a portable burner if you’re reading this article. Before trying out this burner, I did not fully grasp why one would ever even need this device. The more you know.
Easy EZ: A simple device
Moving on to the product itself, the Apricorn EZ Writer II is essentially exactly what the name implies; It’s a drive made by Apricorn, it’s easy to use, and it writes discs. The drive is barely larger width and length-wise than one standard jewel case and about the thickness of two. It’s actually lighter (without a disc inside) than two CD cases with CDs inside, so it certainly won’t be weighing you down if you’re carrying it around with you. I added it to my backpack for a few days and I didn’t even notice that it was there, speaking for both weight and volume.
As far as ease of use goes, “EZ” is right on the money with the EZ Writer II. I took it right out of the box, unwrapped the protective layer, plugged it in to my laptop, put a disc in, right clicked on my files, and it ran straightaway. Windows users may have to install drivers, but the ability to use this thing right out of the box is right in line for exactly where technology like this should be and Apricorn’s effort to keep things simple is laudable.
Slow and steady...
Regarding speed, I don’t think it is Apricorn’s or the EZ Writer II’s fault, but burning dual-layer DVDs is still tremendously slow. I put about 7.8GB worth of video files (roughly 90% capacity of the 8.5GB discs I had on hand) into a burn folder and used Apple’s default “Burn this to a disc” right-click utility and it still took over an hour to create the final disc. This is pretty normal. That’s the one disconnect that I don’t really understand about this product; if it’s supposed to be portable, when are you going to have an hour to just sit there and wait for a DVD to burn? I know my train ride commute is about 50 minutes and both of my recent airplane rides only had about an hour of in-air laptop time and this drive does not take kindly to being jostled (it immediately had a read-error the one time I tilted it while I was trying to playback the disc I had just burned), so during travel the only time I could really use it was sitting in my hotel room at night. The odds that I’m going to bring a DVD burner around with me at all times just in case I want to burn something in my hotel room are pretty low, so this isn’t really a “portable” drive to me so much as it is simply and external drive to sit around my apartment in case I need it. When would you use something like this on-the-go, readers?
For reference, the read speed is right on par with my computer’s own optical drive.
Widgets and whats-its? Did we need these extra thingamabobs?
Aside from that, maybe I just don’t understand the power issue, but there’s a random 5V DC plug on the back of the drive. I guess you could plug this in so it doesn’t drain your laptop so much, but then again if you’re plugging something in wouldn’t it be your laptop and not this drive? There’s also a neat little USB thing that plugs into two slots at the same time so your portable drive can suck down more energy in case you’re using a hub. I didn’t run into a single power issue running the EZ Writer II directly off my plugged-in laptop, but maybe you might or maybe you just want to bring around a USB hub, a dual-cable, a portable DVD player, and some blank dual-layer discs on the train with you. You know, just in case.
My only real complaint, besides the jostling issue I had, was that the built-in USB cord was maybe half a centimeter too short. It wraps around the back and left side of the device with the USB plug resting near the front of the device and it’s wonderfully neat when it’s all wrapped up like that (especially nice for you cord freaks like me who can’t stand cord clutter), but it feels like you need to secure it fairly tightly on the back and side in order to get the USB plug where it needs to fit. After a few tries just messing with it, I got a feel for how it’s supposed to fit (very snugly) and it’s certainly not a big deal at all, but I’m afraid it might break in the long term if I have to keep pulling it so tightly to bundle it all up and the cord is not something you can just replace with a generic male to male USB cable given that this one is built into the device. Just my two cents.
Conclusion: A worthy portable burner
All in all, I think the Apricorn EZ Writer II is a nifty, handy, and useful device but not for the reasons I feel like I should. To me, it’s 1) a dual-layer burner, which is something neither my laptop nor desktop came with by default and 2) an external drive to burn things so that I can either remove mine or at least spare it the strain of burning DVDs. If you’re like me and didn’t have a dual-layer burner or could make use of an external optical drive, the Apricorn EZ Writer II is a fine choice with its ease of use and super compact design.
The EZ Writer II was given to us here at DigitalReviews.net by Apricorn for review purposes. I burned a few discs (Ridata 4x Double Layer DVD –R DL, 8.5GB) and watched a few movies on it to test both the read and write capabilities of the device and I traveled with it before writing this review.