New optical drives to ease media centre builds

New optical drives to ease media centre builds

News that major optical drive vendors are readying Serial ATA (SATA) DVD burners to supersede current IDE offerings has been welcomed by local box builders.

Overseas reports suggest Samsung, Pioneer, Lite-On, and BenQ have all instituted roadmaps for launching SATA DVD burners before the end of the year. Currently, the only SATA-based DVD burner available to local builders is from Plextor. It attracts a premium over comparable IDE drives that makes it unworkable in the price-conscious whitebox market, Plus Corporation managing director, Nigel Fernandes, said.

"There's a $20-$30 premium on the Plextor drives and they don't really offer a huge speed increase over IDE anyway," he said. "There hasn't been strong demand to date, but if the price goes down, we'd welcome it."

Fernandes said he had only taken one shipment of the Plextor drives to fulfill a large customer order. However, he praised the SATA drives against IDE because they used a smaller cable to connect with motherboards. It made PC building easier and neater inside the case, he said.

Altech national sales manager, Kevin Hartin, said the reduced amount of cable used by a SATA drive was particularly useful when building media centre PCs because it helped increase airflow inside the case. Like Plus Corporation, however, Altech has yet to get on the SATA bandwagon. Hartin said as new technologies such as the Blu-ray Disc standard became more common, SATA-based optical drives would come into their own.

"All of the motherboards on the market still have a parallel interface, so we're not being driven to make the change to SATA anytime soon," he said. "It boils down to a question of economics and technology."

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