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

Test Setup and Software

Testing Methodology
Usually at OC3D we strive to give you all of the facts and figures with our hardware reviews. However, with the SBC-04DIS-U, I don't feel that potential buyers will be using the drive as a burner or reader of normal DVD's and CD's. As such, I will give a short analysis of the drive's capabilities regarding burning and then  get really into the stuff you want to hear: how the drive does playing Blu Rays.
Write test using Nero Burning Rom 7.
Burning CD Album - Intimacy - Bloc Party. 482MB 48:05 minutes.

Read Test using SiSoft Sandra and a DVD written with an artifically created 4.5GB text file.

Blu Ray Playback (Region B UK Discs):

• Monsters Inc
• Quantum of Solace
• Twilight
• Terminator 2 Skynet Edition
• The Matrix

DVD Playback

• The Matrix
• Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
• The Bourne Identity

Whilst the player is touted as a Blu Ray player, I think it is important to play some DVD's as well to ensure you wouldn't be disappointed when watching DVD's. I will be using the graphic card's scaler.
Test Setup
I feel it is very important to get the test setup correct when testing items such as a Blu Ray player. As such, the following setup will be used:
PC Setup

Dell 2407 WFP (QED QUNEX HDMI/DVI-P Cable (3MTR)

Intel Q6600 @ 3.3GHz
Abit IP35 Pro
8GB OCZ ReaperX PC6400 @ 1000MHz
MSI 8800 GTX
Lite-On SATA DVDRW (model LH-20A1S)
Seagate 7200.10 250GB HDD
Coolermaster Real Power Pro 1000w PSU
Asus HDAV 1.3 Slim
Belkin AV Home Cinema Surge Protector - 7 Socket

AV Setup

Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ80B Plasma

Yamaha DSP-AX863SE AV Amplifier
Mordaunt Short 906i Floorstanders (Bi-Amped, silver coated oxygen free copper)
Mordaunt Short 905i Centre Speaker (Bi-wired, silver coated oxygen free copper)
Mordaunt Short 905i Bipole Rears (300 strand oxygen free copper)
BK Electronics XLS200 DF (Mark Grant Canare LV775 10MTR)

Additional Cabling

2 x Tacima CS929 6 Way Mains Conditioner
Chord Company Silver Plus HDMI Cable (1.5MTR)
QED Performance HDMI-P Cable (1MTR)
This setup will enable full 1080p signal to be passed to the plasma TV and a high def audio signal to be bitstreamed for processing by the AV Amplifier for maximum quality.
Asus have provided Cyberlink PowerDVD with the SBC-04DIS-U. This is an excellent software player and it's great that Asus provide this with the player. However, I found that the version on the CD had quite major issues playing back newer Blu Rays such as Monsters Inc. As such, I downloaded the latest version of the software (which is not a free upgrade), and this resolved all issues with the playback. This is certainly something Asus should address when it comes to their retail packs.
The Asus Blu Tuner software is a very light piece of software that dimms and brightens the LED's on the SBC-04DIS-U. This is simple and effective and a must if you have a dark room to watch your Blu Rays in.
blu tuner
Asus also provided their Turbo Engine software that increases the connection performance between the USB cable and the external drive". Whilst I'm not sure exactly how accurate this promise is, I installed it as a default and had no issues at all with USB transfer speed.
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Most Recent Comments

02-09-2009, 17:26:58

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.Quote

02-09-2009, 17:55:07

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.Quote

02-09-2009, 18:09:21

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.Quote

02-09-2009, 18:36:32

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.Quote

03-09-2009, 05:25:41

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:

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.Quote

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