Apple USB SuperDrive
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4 stars
  • Excellent

  • Apple USB SuperDrive
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  • Last modified: Sep 15, 2013

Review Summary:

Pros: USB cable built into the SuperDrive, Slender and lightweight Cons: Lacks blu-ray capability, Required to fill void in Apple's high-end devices

The newest to join the line up of Apple SuperDrive products looks to be the best one yet developed. Because so many Apple products, such as the MacBook Pro with Retina display, the MacBook Air, and the Mac mini, do not have an optical drive already installed in them, it can be a very useful product to have.

It is easy to complain in regards to this: shouldn’t something so practical and useful be integrated into the product itself? Maybe, but sleek and small is what we have come to expect from Apple, and the cost is a lack of an optical drive. So let’s see if this USB optical drive is worth the price.

For an optical drive, its dimensions are very slender, coming in at 5.47 x 5.47 x 0.67 inches (139 x 139 x 17 mm.) At .074 pound (335 grams) it is very light. Something that worries me about slender external optical drives is that when you move it while its reading a disk, you can hear the disk scraping up against the top, and it can sometimes freeze whatever it is your doing. This was the problem with the Samsung SE-208 Model.

I did not encounter this problem with the Apple SuperDrive, although you should probably keep it on a flat surface and not half sliding off your lap. I never heard any problems. In fact, the Apple SuperDrive is very quiet. Besides the initial reading, I don’t hear a peep out of it.

The Apple SuperDrive is replete with relatively high-end tech for an optical drive. It is an 8x Optical drive (DVDA±R and DL or DVDA±RW or CD-RW). It writes CD-R disks at up to 24x speeds, and CD-RW disks at 16x speed. Normal CDs are read at 24x speed. On the fancy DVD±R DL discs, you have a write speed of 6x and with DVD-R and the DVD+R you have a write speed of 8x.

Much of these details are becoming pretty standard, though, and I am hard pressed to see the difference between 16x and 8x when I am writing to a CD. A lot of time this depends on the brand, but in most cases either speed will get the job done, and since the Apple SuperDrive has only one flavor, we will happily take it as it is.

One thing I loved about the SuperDrive is that the USB cable is built into the SuperDrive, so it isn’t a separate part that you have to lug around with you. As is commonly the case, no power adaptor is necessary—it gets its juice from your computer, whether your computer itself is plugged in or running on battery power.

I found the lack of cables to be a relief, and the USB cable itself works just fine, even if the cord is a bit short for my tastes. There isn’t much room for it, so I’ll forgive Apple.

One last little thing: With the new Retina display on both the Air and the MacBook Pro, you would think that we would have Blu-ray capability here. With the resolution of the Retina display now at 2880×1800, 1080p viewing would have been a nice edition, especially for what we are paying for the SuperDrive, at just under 80 USD. Verdict:

Great optical drive that for some people is an absolute necessity. We can complain about Apple not integrating them into the machines themselves, but since we like them razor thin anyway, it’s not possible to eat our cake and have it, too.

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  1. My SuperDrive was great–for about two Netflix discs–then it began to display “skipping over damaged area” more and more frequently. Then it stopped ejecting discs and I’d have to shut down and reboot to get them out–the controller icon would not work for ejecting.

    The thing is, after cursing Netflix repeatedly and getting a number of replacement discs, I went upstairs one evening and put one of the supposedly damaged discs into our cheapie DVD player and watched the whole thing just fine on the TV.

    I called Apple and they are guessing my SD is defective, but I had the same problem with my old MacBook that had the build in slot for discs. That’s one reason I started looking at getting a new computer and then discovered I’d have to pay another $80 for the SD.

    I wonder why the Netflix (and other, such as library or Blockbuster) discs cause trouble for the SuperDrive?