Approximate time to read: 3 minutes

For many Netbook owners, the lack of a CD/DVD drive is one of the biggest problems, whether it’s for listening to music or installing software. If you have a PC with DVD drive at home, you can map to that drive using your home network, but what if you’re not at home? Thankfully, external USB-powered drives are available and I’ve got my hands on possibly the most compact – the Lite-On eTAU108.

This is a top-loading DVD writer jointly made with Philips and measures just 14.2 x 14.4cm (and 2cm deep) and weighs less than 350g. It works with dual layer DVDs, writing at 6x speed, single layer at 8x and CDs at 24x. CD reading is at 24x.

The box contents are the DVD writer itself, a USB cable and a plastic bag containing a quick installation guide and a software disk. The disk contains Nero 8 Essentials for Windows and Nero Linux 3 Essentials. The USB cable stores on the underside of the writer for easy portability – this is an excellent idea. One thing lacking, though, that would be nice is a bag to put the drive in whilst carrying it about.

Connect the USB cable to the back of the drive and the other end into your PC and it should automatically install. There is a side sliding lever on the front of the drive to eject the top lid. On top is an access light and a “stop” button. With a “normal” internal DVD drive, pressing the eject button doesn’t physically open the drive. Instead, this sends a command for it to be opened, which it will be once the disk inside has stopped spinning (and hence why there is a small “eject” hole in which you can stick a paper click to force the drive to open).

With this drive, however, the front slide switch physical opens the lid there and then so the “stop” button should be pressed first, forcing the CD/DVD inside to stop spinning. You can then safely open the drive.


For testing the drive, I’ve used the free Nero DiscSpeed (version Below are the results, including charts. If you need help in understanding them further, I’d recommend reading the DiscSpeed manual.

Reading a CD

Average speed: 16.03x
Start speed: 9.72x
End speed: 20.97x

Random access time: 142ms
1/3 access time: 156ms
Full access time: 254 ms

Burst rate: 18 MB/s

CPU Usage:
1x – 1%
2x – 2%
4x – 4%
8x – 7%

Reading a 3.62GB DVD

Average speed: 5.81x
Start speed: 3.29x
End speed: 7.65x

Random access time: 142ms
1/3 access time: 149ms
Full access time: 231ms

Burst rate: 22 MB/s

CPU Usage:
1x – 15%
2x – 16%
4x – 31%
8x – 74%

Writing to a 700MB CD-R

Average speed: 16.73x
Start speed: 10.08x
End speed: 24.10x

CPU usage minimum: 2%
CPU usage maximum: 37%
CPU usage average: 8%

Elapsed time: 5 minutes, 59 seconds

Writing to a 4.38GB DVD+R

Average speed: 5.39x
Start speed: 3.01x
End speed: 8.02x

CPU usage minimum: 2%
CPU usage maximum: 44%
CPU usage average: 12%

Elapsed time: 13 minutes, 1 second



What can I say? It works as described, and at a bargain price. It’s quiet (well, as quiet as optical drives normally are!) and only gets slightly warm in use (you could certainly put it on your favourite coffee table and not worry about it – indeed, it has 4 rubber feet underneath as well). With no vents to cover, you don’t have to worry about where you put it when in use.

When front loading external drives are retailing for £40+, the idea of a cheaper, more manual, top loading equivalent for just under £30 is very appealing. Certainly I’d been put off buying one in the past because of the price. Now there’s no excuse.

Join the conversation


  1. i just bought this LITEON External Dvd/CD writer. i tried it by playing a film but ther is no sound coming out, i tried again another dvd, thinking that it could be the disc whivh has got a problem, but it is still the same. I have checked the volume on my netbook but it has got a sound. Then with the nero i put it on the max volume but still there is no sound coming out. Could you please help me with this problem as this is just new, just a day ago.

    thanks very much, if you could please help me asap with this because i might just have to return to the shop before the warranty expires.

    thanks again.

    1. It is highly unlikely that this will be a problem with the LITEON, as the sound is encoded along with the video – if one wasn’t being read correctly, I think you’d be having general problems.

      It’s more likely that the problem is to do with your sound settings – you may have one of the sound settings muted (or low) that controls the sound specifically from the device (and this all depends on OS and sound card as to what it may be).

      Could it be a codec problem with the playback software you’re using? I just connected mine up and it played fine via WMP under XP.

  2. I have the same problem, but it does not seem to be a problem of the settings, since I can well hear sound from my mp3 files on the computer, from videos on the hard disc and so on, I hear the sound of audio – Cds if I play them in the lite-on device, but I don’t Hear sound from DVD Videos, just as luz posted. Iwoulb be glad about an answer from here or about a hint where to ask. Thanks!

  3. thanks for the information guys but unfortunately i have to return it back before it reaches the time that i wouldn’t be able to return it. i am still planning to get one those and will try what Klaus did to his by downloading the file he said.

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