Last updated: 16/10/2022

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External DVD drives are a must-have in every household these days. As technology continues to evolve, fewer and fewer PCs are being manufactured with built-in DVD drives as the size and weight of the devices are reduced. Nevertheless, CDs and DVDs still play a major role in our everyday lives and one quickly finds oneself in situations where a DVD reader or a DVD burner would be necessary.

In the following, we have tried to give you a rough overview of the best external DVD drives and present the special features, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different external DVD drives and burners with our external DVD drive test 2023.




Summary

  • External DVD drives offer the chance to play or burn DVDs and CDs, as well as to generate additional storage space, since many modern PCs or notebooks no longer have an internal DVD drive.
  • There are different types of external drives and it is usually recommended to switch to an external DVD drive with an additional burner.
  • It is important to consider in advance which media types should be supported and which connections are necessary for you to find a suitable drive.

The Best External DVD Drive: Our Picks

External DVD drives: buying and review criteria

Below are some buying and review criteria to help you find the ideal external DVD drive for you.

The criteria listed above can be used to distinguish between external DVD drives.

Weight

Most external DVD drives are in the same weight category and vary only between a few grams. Nevertheless, there are one or two outliers in this category.

It is important to note that the weight of your external DVD drive plays a major role, as a device that is too heavy is impractical and unwieldy. A device that is too light might not be pleasant for you personally. Consider in advance what size and weight category you would like your external DVD drive to be.

Before you buy, find out exactly how heavy the product is and compare the weight with competing products to get a feeling for it.

Colour

The colour of the external DVD drive only plays a secondary role, as the functionality of the product is not affected and it is only a matter of the appearance of the device.

Nevertheless, you should buy a product that appeals to you visually and that you like. Most external DVD drives have a simple black design.

If you don’t like black so much, you can check online and look at other models. The product line is versatile and you can choose from many styles and colours.

Supported media types

Before you buy, make sure you know exactly what you want to use your external DVD drive for and which media types it must support.

Different DVD drives do not necessarily support the same media types.

External DVD drives can usually read and burn all CD formats.

However, if you want to use a specific DVD format (e.g. DVD-ROM discs), check the features of your product before you buy to make sure that your desired media type is supported.

Connection

External DVD drives do not necessarily have the same connection options.

In most cases, the external DVD drive is connected with a simple USB cable.

Sometimes you can connect your external DVD drive to your laptop via a USB-C plug and power it via a simple mains plug. Therefore, take a close look at which connections you need to use your external DVD drive and whether you want to charge the battery via your laptop or via the wall socket.

Most external DVD drives have one or more of the following connectors:

  • USB 3.0 port. This port is fully backwards compatible, which means you can also connect a USB 2.0 cable if necessary.
  • USB-C port. USB-C cables can carry data, video, audio and power simultaneously and are much smaller than their predecessors. In addition, USB-C plugs can be used on both sides due to their symmetrical design.
  • Power cable. A few external DVD drives still draw their power from a mains plug. This is simply plugged into the socket and charges the drive’s battery.
  • SD card slot. In the higher price segment, there are also external DVD drives with features such as a card reader. Depending on the model, you can thus also insert SD cards or micro SD cards.

External DVD drives: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following, we have selected and answered a few important questions regarding external DVD drives to give you a complete picture and a better understanding of the topic.

What can an external DVD drive do?

An external DVD drive is connected to your laptop or TV to read and write DVDs and CDs. Modern devices such as notebooks and tablets, but also some laptops nowadays often no longer have an internal DVD / CD drive.

This means that an external DVD drive can be used to provide additional storage space and video or photo files can be played from and onto the laptop without any problems.

Externes DVD Laufwerk

Don’t lose precious memories with your loved ones. With an external DVD drive, you can back up important photos and keep them forever. (Image source: Limor Zellermayer/ Unsplash)

An external DVD drive can be connected and used on any number of devices. With an external DVD drive, you can keep important memories and easily back up your photos and videos.

What types of external DVD drives are there?

There are several different types of external DVD drives. In the following we have selected three of them so that you know the advantages and disadvantages of such products and can weigh them up for yourself.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
external DVD drive with USB connection USB connection is very common and available on almost every device Often a newer USB-C connection is also important
external DVD drive with power cable The battery power of the drive is fed directly from the power socket and does not have to be drawn from the computer this can be louder and make the drive more impractical due to additional cables
external DVD drive with burner CDs and DVDs can not only be read, but also written to and overwritten possibly associated with higher costs

Thus, for example, an external DVD drive with USB port is very helpful and in many cases sufficient, but you should consider in advance whether a device with an additional USB-C port is more sensible for your needs.

External DVD drives with a separate power cable are becoming increasingly rare for the simple reason that the simple, compact design of the drive suffers greatly from an extra power cable. If, for some reason, you specifically want your drive to have a power cable, you need to consciously look for this when making your purchase.

Most external DVD drives on the market are also DVD burners. Since burners are very helpful when using external drives, most manufacturers have decided to include this feature directly in their device. If you specifically do not need a burner, you must specify this before you buy.

What does an external DVD drive cost?

Prices for an external DVD drive start at around 20 euros, depending on the quality, and go up to around 120 euros for certain brands and professional devices. DVD burners also tend to be a little more expensive than simple DVD drives.

A simple drive with a USB port typically ranges between 20 and 30 euros.

Drives with an extra power cable can sometimes be a little cheaper, but are also around 15 to 30 euros. For external DVD drives with burners, as with other products, it depends very much on the model. Thus, there are inexpensive drives from about 25 and professional devices with additional features for over 100 euros.

Type price range
external DVD drive with USB connection approx. 20 to 30 euros
external DVD drive with mains cable approx. 15 to 30 euros
external DVD drive with burner approx. 25 to 120 euros

All in all, you can expect to find a solid DVD drive for between 20 and 30 euros, as long as you look specifically for features that are important to you in the product and leave out additional features that you don’t need.

What are the alternatives to an external DVD drive?

It is difficult to find alternatives to an external DVD drive, as it is virtually the only product that can satisfy the need for reading and burning DVDs. Only in special cases can it therefore make sense to dispense with an external DVD drive and instead opt for a product from the following table.

Alternative Description
Product with internal DVD drive Devices that are still equipped with an internal DVD drive are sufficient for normal everyday use, as the computer itself is capable of reading and, in most cases, burning DVDs.
external CD drive An external CD drive can also be bought as an alternative to a DVD drive if someone only wants to read and burn CDs.

A device with a built-in DVD drive can therefore make the purchase of an external DVD drive superfluous. Nevertheless, many computers are now built without an internal DVD drive to save space.

In special cases, the purchase of an external CD drive may be sufficient to read and burn CDs only. However, since the price of such a product is not significantly lower than that of an external DVD drive that can also read and burn DVDs, it often makes no sense to use such an alternative.

What can I connect an external DVD drive to?

You can connect your external DVD drive to almost any computer and use it. Depending on the age and brand of your computer, you will need to choose a DVD drive with a USB or USB-C connection.

Externes DVD Laufwerk

On your desk in the home office, at work, or in the children’s room. An external DVD drive takes up almost no space and looks good next to any electronic device. (Image source: John Kappa/ Unsplash)

The external DVD drive can be connected to PCs, notebooks, tablets and much more. Furthermore, the power for your external drive is either drawn directly through the USB connection or through another power plug that is connected to the socket. Find out in advance which drive makes the most sense for your device.

Conclusion

External DVD drives are practical and simple. Since many devices today are not equipped with an internal DVD drive, difficulties arise in everyday life. Another way to access CDs and DVDs must be created. With an external DVD drive, it is child’s play to read DVDs and CDs, store them and fill them with new data.

External DVD drives can also be used as additional storage space, saving important memories intact. Depending on your preference, you can choose simple models or more feature-packed models to fit into your everyday life. It’s best to choose an external DVD drive with burner that is designed to meet your needs.

Picture source: Dmitry Shishkin / 123rf

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