Plextor PX-610U Portable USB 2.0 DVD Drive

Netbooks are strange little beasties. Not quite a serious notebook computer, a tad more than a toy, the computing industry has been scratching its collective noggins trying to figure out just what to do with these devices.

Even the very definition of a netbook is hard to pin down.

Maybe it's the little 8-inch to 10-inch screen that defines the category.

No, there are full featured devices with powerful processors that boast 8-inch or smaller screens. OQO computers comes to mind.

It must be the underpowered processors that defines netbooks.

Well, not really. Some of these processors are pretty powerful and, if mated with decent graphics and memory, could easily give low end notebooks a good fight.

Price! That's the ticket! Because of the combination of weak processors, low memory, and small screens the resulting cost of a device is what makes it a netbook.

Wrong again. Lately many low end, but full featured notebooks cost equal to or less than some popular netbooks, so cost is not the defining factor.

We could go on, but one thing seems clear: netbooks, whatever they are, are a category of computing that has gotten much attention of late.

To muddy the netbook waters even more, now Apple is rumored to be preparing a device to compete in the netbook space while not being called a netbook itself, which is ironic since some netbooks aren't called netbooks either.

People buy them because they are cheap, and they can do some work, mostly stuff that's Web related. While out at Macworld, for instance, all my articles were written using an HP Mini Note 1000 that had a 16GB Solid State Drive, a 10-inch screen, a nice big keyboard, and 2GB of RAM. All my articles were written in Goggle Docs, which allowed me to work offline (not connected to the Web), and made the Mini Note 1000 as portable and functional as any laptop, MacBook included, at least for the narrowly defined set of requirements I had at the time.

The shine on the Mini Note dimmed considerably whenever I needed to do anything that wasn't WiFi related because I had no other means of getting large amounts of data into or out of the device. Unless I had downloaded it beforehand, for instance, I had no way of watching a movie while sitting in various airports. If I wanted to backup the stuff I wrote while outside WiFi range, which was surprisingly often, I was out of luck again since the Mini Note 1000, and all netbooks, and even some expensive, but thin laptops, come without a DVD drive.

Netbooks are more of a problem because of the limited storage that typically comes with them.

Playing a movie on or writing data from a netbook has gotten a whole lot easier now that the Plextor PX-610U is available. The Mac version comes with Roxio's excellent Toast 9, and PC users can get a version that includes Roxio Creator 10CE.

Now, before you roll your eyes and sigh about having to lug more cables around that would defeat the idea of portability that made your netbook or ultra slim MacBook Air attractive in the first place, let me point out that the Plextor PX-610U requires only one USB cable, which is supplied.

That's it.

Nothing else.

The DVD burner is small, slim, light weight, whisper quiet, and it works like a charm. The Mac version is MacBook white plastic with MacBook Pro brushed aluminum panels. The PC version is basic black. Either looks good.

I plugged it into my Intel iMac running OS X version 10.5.8 and, like nearly everything else that plugs into a Mac, it worked. I could watch movies with nary a hiccup, glitch, or jitter. I could burn DVDs using either Toast 9, which is a really useful app, or by using the Finder option.

What's more telling is that I plugged the PX-610U into the HP Mini Note 1000 running the latest build of Windows 7 and, after Windows found, downloaded, and installed the appropriate drivers, it worked too. In fact, in a little more than a minute of plugging in the PX-610U into the Mini Note 1000 I was able to watch my Danger Mouse DVDs. Of course, Windows had to tell me everything it was doing, but in Windows 7 the information windows are a lot smaller and easier to ignore.

That speaks well of Windows 7, but it also speaks volumes for the PX-610U. It is a true plug-n-play DVD burner.

I also tried it on a Windows XP laptop, a MacBook Air and one of the new MacBook Pros.

XP required some coercing, but after finding, and installing PowerDVD, which took about three minutes, everything worked fine.

The MacBooks, like my iMac, had no problems. Within 30 seconds of plugging in the PX-610U I was watching the DVD. It just worked.

I've been using the PX-610U for about a month now, and it's about as reliable as pen and paper. Plextor even included a nice bag to carry the drive and cable in.

I honestly have not found one thing with the PX-610U to complain about -- that is, until I check the prices.

The PC version can be had for as little as US$77 while a quick search for the Mac version yielded no price less then US$126. That's a $50 premium for the same device. The only difference, beyond the case color, is the included software. Roxio's Toast 9 Titanium can be had for about $50, and you can get Toast 10 Titanium for about $75 on Amazon. Toast is a wonderful product that compliments the PX-610U well. Is it worth the extra fifty bucks? That's for you to decide. You may find that other USB DVD burners work equally as well and some of those can cost as little as $50 by themselves.

What I can tell you is that the PX-610U, with Toast 9 Titanium, works and works well.

I'm a fan of anything that works as advertised. I'm fanatic about anything that work better than advertised. I will consider selling blood and unused body parts for things that work better than advertised and is inexpensive. If you are in need of a portable DVD burning solution the Plextor PX-610U may be worth a pint or two of blood in my book, but the price is the only thing keeping me from giving it my highest rating. As it is I Highly Recommend* the Plextor PX-610U USB DVD Drive for Mac.


Review ItemPlextor PX-610U Portable USB DVD Drive

List Price

Street Price





Minimum Requirements

Mac G4 500MHZ


5GB HHD space

USB 2.0

Mac OS X version 10.4 or higher

* Note: My rating system goes like this;

  • Get it Now! - Highest rating and an absolute must-have
  • Highly recommend - Minor flaws, but a great product
  • Recommend - Flawed, but still a solid product
  • So-so - Problem product that may find a niche market
  • Avoid - Why did they bother making it? A money waster.