Going by its name “Zebra Blu-Ray player/recorder”, Addonics has wrapped an LG 10x Blu-Ray burner in an aluminium enclosure. At 195.00 Euros, the Zebra must be one of the cheapest Blu-Ray burners you can find, and with an eSATA port it can easily cope with the higher throughput speeds required by 10x speed Blu-Ray burning.
Addonics in my eyes is a no-frills vendor. The design of its products is not its first focus. Pricing and quality of components are. This Zebra Blu-Ray burner is a good example. It comes in an aluminium enclosure that won’t win the Red Dot Design Award, but at least the enclosure will keep the burner safe and cool, and it comes with a semi-transparent bezel plate to keep hands away from the LG burner or to protect it against bumps.
The Zebra enclosure is built for mobile usage, so it’s as light as aluminium will get, while also offering robustness. The LG mechanism is protected not only by the aluminium, but also by a fan that keeps the inner workings cool — in fact, you can’t get it much cooler than this and I personally believe the fan is unnecessary, although I didn’t have 10x Blu-Ray discs to see how hot the drive would get at such a high speed.
The LG mechanism itself performed nicely. I am used to dealing with Pioneer mechanisms and have always found these to be the absolute top, but I must admit the Addonics Zebra was faster when burning a 6x Blu-Ray than the Pioneer BDR-203. The Zebra could handle all of my A-brand Blu-Ray discs: Verbatim, Sony, TDK, and Kodak (the latter three only purchased for this test — I recommend Verbatim).
I tested the Zebra with the USB 2 interface and the eSATA interface. There was no speed difference, but Toast Titanium 10 started the actual burning process faster when the Zebra was hooked up through eSATA than it did when the device was connected through USB 2. Nevertheless, the difference was marginal.
After having spent a good month with the Zebra Blu-Ray player/recorder, I have been quite happy with its performance. Although any fan will start working on my nerves after a while, the Zebra’s is relatively silent, and the drive itself also doesn’t make too much noise when burning or verifying, so no complaints in that area either. Having said that, I personally don’t think the fan is really necessary as both drive and electronics inside the enclosure stayed cool, but I’m not a technical engineer, so if you decide to unplug the fan to have absolute silence, you’re on your own…
My only real criticism would be with regards to the design of the device. It’s not that it’s ugly, but it lacks some sexy or cool; it’s too much PC and too little Mac. Luckily, you don’t need design to burn Blu-Ray discs, DVDs and CDs without spitting out coasters half of the time, so unless you can’t bare to have devices on your desk that merit at least one design award, the Addonics Zebra Blu-Ray player/recorder is a sound investment.