StepJoy Mobile External DVD-RW Drive Review | MacSources

Plug and Play Optical Disc for your PC or Mac.

Working in a medical clinic, many of our new laptops do not have optical drives. When patients bring in their imaging discs, we sometimes struggle to find a place to play them. Additionally, it can be convenient to play a DVD after hours, or to play one of the many CD’s from my collection. Turning to Amazon, I happened upon an inexpensive, sub $20, USB 3.0 Portable CD/DVD +/-RW Drive DVD/CD ROM device, which had 82% 5* reviews. I had to try out the device.

The STEPJOY POP-UP Mobile External DVD-RW drive arrived in a blue/white 6 1/2 inches wide by 6 7/16 inches tall by 1/2 inches thick retail package. The cover panel displayed the product title along the top left, as well as “DVD-RW” in orange-colored font. An image of the flat, black-colored, textured DVD burner was displayed along the middle of the panel, along with a USB-3.0 icon. Along the bottom left, you will find details about USB3.0, Max 5Gbps, backward compatibility with USB2.0, and Plug and Play support. The back panel provided the same product title along the top but provided several product features, instructions for use, and caution statements. The USB2.0/USB3.0 product is compatible with “Windows XP/2003/Vista/7/8.1/10, Linux, and the MacOS system” and thanks to the plug-and-play system, requires no driver installation. Although the back panel was quite wordy, and the English was a bit choppy, it provided a lot of information about the DVD-RW device. The company noted that they included shielding and copper mesh technology to improve data transmission. To use the device, plug it into the USB port on your computer and find the icon. As a caution, the packaging recommended to avoid looking into the laser, to keep the machine away from magnets, and to keep it on a flat surface. Lastly, I loved the colorful flare that the company used on the unadorned left/right panels and beneath the product name on the top/bottom panel.

I pulled the small tab out of from the top of the box and slid the clear plastic tray out of the box. I removed the plastic-wrapped, 11.11 ounce, 5 5/8 inches square by 5/8 inches thick DVD-RW drive, and the six panel instruction manual. The matte-black top panel of the DVD-RW drive had wavy, flame-like ripples. Both of the side panels resembled a stretched out Yin-Yang and had an upper glossy and lower matte section. The front panel had the slide out disk drive drawer and the IN/OUT button, while the back panel had a rounded edge. The bottom panel had four 3/8 inches diameter rubberized feet, an “External ODD&HDD Device” placard and a convenient 10-inches long USB-A/USB3.0, built-in cable. Turning to the manual, I found similar instructions to those listed on the back of the outer packaging. However, as an added bonus, the instructions were available in other languages as well.

To test the device, I used my older MacBook Pro 15", instead of my newer USB-C only device. Since the DVD-RW only had a USB-A/USB-3.0 cable and no other output ports, to access a USB-C port, I would need a USB-A to USB-C adaptor, or some kind of a HUB. I plugged the USB-A cable into the USB-A port on my MacBook Pro 15", and then pressed the button along the front. The disk tray slid out of the case and I was able to insert a DVD into the drive. Blu-Ray movies will not work with this setup, as it was only designed for DVD only. Interestingly, against modern trends, the instruction manual noted “Such a situation comes rarely.” I watched an entire DVD movie and noted no lag, no skipping, nor any heating up of the DVD drive. I wanted to use the Blackmagicdesign Disk Speed test but found that I could not use this step to test the speed of the drive because the drive was read only. I removed the DVD that I tested and added a DVD-R+ disk into the drive. The MacBook immediately opened a folder that asked me to take action “You inserted a blank DVD. Choose an action from the pop-up menu or click ignore.” WIth a DVD-R+ in the drive, I again used the Blackmagicdesign speed test. I found the Read/write speeds to be 425–440 MB/s.

If your laptop does not have an optical drive, this device should work well for you. I loved the plug-and-play nature of the drive, the small portable size, and the included built-in USB-A/USB3.0 cable. I was able to copy files to my RW discs, but only obtained USB2.0 speeds with my MacBook Pro. Perhaps these speeds would have been higher on another device. I tried the device on my Lenovo work laptop and found that I was able to open patient CD/DVD images. This feature drastically enhanced my productivity, as I no longer had to take this to IT to view. I do not think that I could have spent my $20 in a more useful manner.

Originally published at on September 18, 2020.



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