Asus SBC-04DIS-U Slim External Blu Ray Reader

Conclusion

Conclusion
 
Asus have made a very decent external add-on drive with the Asus SBC-04DIS-U. Stylish and thin with a modern clean look and weighing in at a very decent 412g it's a great addition if you have a very capable laptop or PC, but lack a Blu Ray drive to go with it.
 
Now I can tackle the biggest issue with the drive I have at this time - pricing. Asus have given an RRP of £150 for the Asus SBC-04DIS-U and that's quite a lot. Considering you can grab a well-specced Sony or Panasonic from the last generation of Blu Ray players for around £20-30 less than the Asus SBC-04DIS-U; it's a large price to pay for just a drive on it's own. Add to that the fact that Asus have added in a fairly sparse software bundle (including an out of date software player), it doesn't seem the best value for money I've ever seen.
 
Of course, the stand-alone market isn't where Asus are aiming the Asus SBC-04DIS-U. The lightness and diminutive size of the player lend themselves to a great laptop companion. However,as great as the drive is in this aspect, I'm not entirely sure that someone on a laptop's battery would want to use a drive that needs two USB 2.0 connectors to power it.
 
That aside, the Asus SBC-04DIS-U is an awesome, innovative bit of kit that plays high definition Blu Ray drives and looks great doing it.
 
As such, I think Asus deserves a hearty 'Recommended' Award for the Asus SBC-04DIS-U. Despite Asus predicting a lower 'street price' for the unit than £150, I still think the drive is a little too much for what it is.
 
The Good
+ Fantastic High Definition play-back
+ Gorgeous looking drive
+ No external power (other than 2 x USB 2.0) needed
+ Very slim and light
+ Excellent playback performance
 
The Mediocre
* Not quite as good as a stand-alone player
* Bundle lack-lustre
 
The Bad
- Let down by high price
- Loud during Blu Ray playback
 
recommended award 
 
Thanks to Asus for the review sample.
 
Fancy an external drive that adds Blu Ray playback to your setup? Let us know here
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Most Recent Comments

01-09-2009, 09:15:37

FarFarAway
Asus produces the worlds first slim external Blu Ray drive and we get our hands on it to take a good look at this rather sexy looking bit of kit.

Check it out

02-09-2009, 17:26:58

Rastalovich
Outrageous !

Have to be fair, they're taking quite a micky on the pricing of this unit. Whilst I can understand the styling and that it's probably aimed at those who either have a laptop/netbook without, or media center that's currently dvd only, - look stylish - but even so 150.

I'd have to look at a BR-ROM/DVDRW being in the region of 50 and a caddie/adapter being 20?? ish max/min. It's 80 or so worth of style, and as u say, probably lacking in the bundle department - although it'd probably be contract based. But having said that, there are some awesome BBC documentaries, atleast, that would show-off the capabilities. Other than that, if it was a BR-RAM.. it would turn it into an awesome piece of kit.

I look at the construction and I'm thinking a laptop drive in a fancy caddie.

I don't know that an audio connector would work in same way either. For a pc, many of them have atleast coax inputs, I know not many laptops do.

I dunno, good reviewage, but it's a big spend for not so much imo. Could be so much better for the same price I feel.

02-09-2009, 17:55:07

FarFarAway
Not sure what you mean about audio connector matey? Using the drive as a laptop addition you'd only be benefitting from the HD video and have to sacrifice the audio imo

If you look at laptop Blu Ray drives, the cheapest around is 120ish I believe (linky), so that ups the price somewhat. However, I do agree (and it's reflected in the conclusion), that the price is too much. Around 100 would most likely be a fairer price for a stylish 'lifestyle' device that plays Blu Ray.

02-09-2009, 18:09:21

Rastalovich
I was thinking about something as simple as a pin pass-thru for the hd audio pins u get on bare units. Pins to a phono socket or something. Could just be a jack, and supply u with a jack->phono lead.

Bit confusing perhaps cos the player I was thinking of for 50 or so is like a pioneer regular pc one, not a laptop one. But that's taking all the looks out of the equation and just being practical I guess.

Laptop ones are still quite expensive, so u can see their expense in that department, and keeping in with their slim design, only a laptop one would suffice.

02-09-2009, 18:36:32

FarFarAway
Soz mate you've lost me. Currently the only thing that passes HD audio (bitstream) is an HDMI socket or the dual USB interface on this drive.

An AV receiver can decode HD audio and send it out via an analogue connection (RCA out), but the HD audio has to be decoded by the Amp first and usually this is used to pass to a power Amp in a Pre-Power Amp situation with high end audio to power high end audiophile speakers. A PS3 or Blu Ray player (or one of these link link two cards) can decode HD audio then pass 6 channels (5.1), out using uncompressed linear PCM via Digital Optical or Digital Coaxial.

03-09-2009, 05:25:41

Rastalovich
Yeah on that drive, but the units essentially have the ability (although not wired up in most cases) to have the pins available ala the drive I got:

http://img.directcanada.com/images/P...DC-202BK_1.jpg

With these, similar to oldfashioned ide drives and their audio outputs, u can tap into these sources to channel a socket that a user can use for a decoder or whatever.

Generally, units since the adoption of SATA, have not put the headers for these onto the pcb and u'll just get a SATA & Power ports. Even tho the solder points are there.

As I mentioned tho, this would be an alternative build as ASUS have gone down the latop-in-a-caddie approach.

03-09-2009, 13:32:37

FarFarAway
And the sound output wouldn't be high def either as the bandwidth of those ports isn't the required 24.5Mb/sec afaik (correct me if I'm wrong)

03-09-2009, 14:59:36

Rastalovich
U know, I don't know the bandwidth.

But legend has it, u connect the pins to ur gfxcard to get hd audio through the hdmi output.

03-09-2009, 16:57:54

FarFarAway
Except that graphics cards can't bitstream HD audio afaik.

04-09-2009, 05:46:36

Rastalovich
HD audio on graphics cards has been around, or atleast promoted, since '08 some time. Never reviewed, never tested, never scrutinized.

Believe ATI cards came along with it first as a pass-thru, whereas nVidia stuck it on their cards, made it look like a fan header, and said nothing.

U go online to get any help about it.... mid '08 or so and there'd be nothing.

Just googling now and there are threads about it on the AV forums, even suggestions - how time has changed.

Deal being, I think this needs some study myself. No one has done anything worth linking about. Normally it's just stated that the cards have it and move along quickly to how fast this htpc gpu plays Crysis.

04-09-2009, 06:34:26

FarFarAway
Yeah agreed with you mate, never got any detail from ATI or Nvidia on it really and it would only work on HDMI enabled cards.

04-09-2009, 07:16:54

stevej696
Looks damn good but 150!

04-09-2009, 09:06:50

FarFarAway
Asus think the street price is going to be lower than 150, but it will have to come down a lot below that!

01-10-2009, 12:27:34

wtfmom
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='stevej696'
Looks damn good but 150!
What were you expecting? It seems reasonable to me for the quality they're providing.
Reply
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