DVD writers have become something of a commodity item these days and you can pick up a top-of-the-range internal model for not much more than £30. However, bundled software packages can also be confusing for someone unfamiliar with how they work, and has most likely put off a fair few potential buyers. Lite-On thinks it has solved both these problems in a convenient way with the EZ-DUB external USB 2.0 DVD writer.
What makes the EZ-DUB different is the two buttons on top of the drive. The square one is labelled File and the round one Dub. It would've been clearer if the Dub button was called Copy, perhaps, but in the era of political correctness, words such as 'copy' seem to have been banished. The drive itself is rather ordinary looking for an external DVD writer. It's black and silver in colour, with USB and power connectors at the rear. A small power brick and fairly short USB 2.0 cable are supplied with the drive.
The drive inside the EZ-DUB is a Lite-On SHW-1635S. This will write to DVD±R media at 16x, DVD+RW media at 8x, DVD-RW at 6x, DVD+R dual layer at 8x and finally dual-layer DVD-Rs at 4x. It will also burn CD-Rs at 48x and CD-RWs at 24x - not quite as fast as the latest, cutting-edge drives.
To use the EZ-DUB function you still need to install some software on your PC, but this is far more basic than the software suites usually bundled with external writers. And if you want to copy - sorry, dub - a CD or DVD, it's merely a case of pressing the button on the drive - once you've set up the source drive the first time you dub a disc.
Writing files is similarly straightforward. Press the File button on the drive and up pops the EZ-DUB application window. Then it's simply a matter of dragging and dropping the files you want to write to a disc on to the application window. When you've done, press the File button a second time and the disc is written.
A copy of Nero Express Suite version 6.6 is supplied with the drive, in case you need some slightly more advanced features, such as burning disc images. You also get a copy of CyberLink PowerDVD 5 so you can use the EZ-DUB as your DVD player to watch movies on your PC if it doesn't already have a DVD-ROM drive built in.
The EZ-DUB software has a menu button - the smaller blue orb of the two - which allows you to change the default name of the disc, change the folder for the cached files and erase re-writeable discs. For anything more exotic you have to use Nero. But simplicity is what the EZ-DUB drive is all about and for most of its intended users the functionality provided is more than enough.
Writing 605MB of data in a single large file to a CD took 2m 32m with the EZ-DUB software, whereas the same operation took 2m 29s with Nero 7. Copying the same data from a CD using EZ-DUB took 2m 57s, although this is due to the data coming from a slower source than the hard drive. There was also some caching taking place even though EZ-DUB was set up to do the copy on the fly. I also copied 3535MB of data to a 16x-rated DVD+R, a process which took 5m 21s. Doing the same test with a DVD-R disc took 5m 17s.
A word of warning: readers with older computers - ie. anyone not using Windows 2000 or XP - won't be able to use the EZ-DUB software. This seems a fairly big flaw, in my book, as this would more likely be the type of user whose PC wouldn't have a built-in DVD writer. That said, most machines that old won't have support for USB 2.0, but this could be solved with an appropriate add-in card being fitted. There is also no option for standing the EZ-DUB on its side, so make sure you have enough desk space before you run out and buy one as it measures 17.2 x 24.3cm. It's 6.6cm high.
At almost £59 the Lite-On EZ-DUB is an affordable external DVD writer, whether or not you use the EZ-DUB feature.
The Lite-On EZ-DUB is a simple-to-use external DVD writer that requires minimal technical and software knowledge to get up and running. Although you don't get the more advanced features of a proper disc burning package - though the bundled Nero Express offers slight more sophisticaed functionality, if you need it - most of the target users aren't likely to use these features on a daily basis. It's also an affordable upgrade for anyone that doesn't want to pop the lid on their PC or notebook. ®