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Appeared on: Friday, January 16, 2009
LiteOn eSAU208

1. Features, specs

This time we put LiteOn's new 8X External Slim DVD Writer to the test. This compact and fancy drive supports most CD and DVD media formats currently available. It is powered via the USB interface, so there is no need for extra AC adapters. Although this drive is not one of the fastest externals that you can find, its ultra slim coating and low weight, along with its capability to be powered from the USB make it a good recommendation for those that do not have a drive on their laptop and definitely need one.

Writing speeds in detail are set as follows: 8X for DVD±R, 6X for DVD±R DL, 8X for DVD+RW, 6X for DVD-RW, 5X for DVD-RAM, 24X for CD-R and 24X for CD-RW.

The drive's key features can be summarized in the following list:

- Drive Specifications

DVD Family Write
Read 24X
Access time 130ms
CD Family Write
CD-R 24X
Read 24X
Access time 110ms
PC Required Pentium 4 1.3GHz or higher CPU and 128MB or higher RAM are required.
HDD must have access time < 20ms; with a minimum of 650MB free
9GB free space for creating a DVD image file (9GB for double layer; 5GB for single layer).
Compatibility Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP
Buffer Size 2MB
MTBF (Life) 60,000 POH
General Environment
Operating 5°C to 35°C; Relative Humidity: 10% to 80%
Non-Operating -40°C to 65°C; Relative Humidity: 10% to 90%
Dimension 138(W) x 24.37(H) x 155.2(D) mm
Weight < 362.8g

-The Retail Box

The Package contains the following items:

-The Drive

Slim and stylish, the drive has a simplistic design that is usually welcomed by the office users as well by all those who may use it on the go.

Using the included stand you can save much space on your desk by placing the drive in a vertical position.

The rear rounded side of the drive includes the USB 2.0 port as well as the power connector, used to power up the device when AC outlet is available.

Our test sample was manufactured on September 2008 in China.

- Installation

The drive was identified under Windows XP as "Slimtype eSAU208 2 ", firmware version ML03. For all our tests, we powered the device using the AC adapter.

Nero Info Tool 5

DVD Info Pro

2. CD/DVD reading tests

For our CD transfer rate tests, we used the Nero CD-Speed utility and a set of data and audio CD-R/RW/ROM. The drive can read CD media at a maximum speed of 24X.

For each CDSpeed graph, you can click on the image to see the complete screenshot, including full measurements.



The following CD Speed graph shows the reading performance with US-RW media. Reading reached a maximum of 24x, as per the specifications.

- AudioCD

In the CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test, the drive's average speed was 17,06X with a quality score of 100.0

A typical DAE task with an 80min non-protected Audio CD produced 17.1X average ripping speed. Not bad at all for a small drive.

- 90 mins Audio disc


DVD Format

Now let's take a look at how the drive performs with DVD media. This time, a set of SL and DL DVD media was used. The drive is capable of reading at 8X maximum speed for single layer DVD ROM and at 6X for dual layer DVD ROM media.




The two layers of a PTP DVD-ROM disc are read sequentially with the drive starting reading from the inner part of the disc, which is the beginning of each layer, progressing towards its outer range.


The first layer of an OTP dual layer DVD-ROM is read exactly the same way as the first layer of the PTP disc we tested previously. The difference here is the reading strategy of the second layer of the disc. The beginning of the second layer is located in the outer part of the disc, so the drive starts reading from the outer tracks and progresses towards the inner part of the disc.











-DVD RAM (5x)

- DVD Video Ripping

Ripping of a single layer DVD movie:

Average 6.033 KB/s (4.4x)
Maximum 8.353 KB/s (6.0x)

- Summary of reading tests

The LiteOn drive performed according to its specifications. Most reading processes were flawless with the drive not having a hard time to complete them.

3. CD error correction tests

In the following tests, we check the drive's behavior and error correction capabilities when reading scratched / defective audio discs. The test discs used were the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.


Errors total Num : 1408771
Errors (Loudness) 64939 -71,4dB(A) Max :-19,7dB(A)
Error Muting Num :6350 Avg : 1.2 Samples Max : 335 Samples
Skips Num : 5 Avg :331,2 Samples Max : 486 Samples
Total Test Result 60,9 points(of 100.0 maximum)
C2 accuracy 97,9 %

Not that much of a good score. There were some skipped samples and the maximum Errors Loudness level is too high, at -19,7 dB(A). There might be a few clicks and some small ammount of noise in the playback procedure of the specific media. There also many muted samples.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total Num 35
Errors (Loudness) Num :5 Avg : -77,4 dB(A) Max : -70,3 dB(A)
Error Muting Num : 0 Avg : 0,0 Samples Max :0 Samples
Skips Num : 0 Avg :0,0 Samples Max :0 Samples
Total Test Result 94,0 points( of 100.0 maximum)
C2 accuracy 100%

Good performance here, successfully hiding and correcting most defected data.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is another tool for evaluating the Sound Reproduction / Error correction capabilities of a CD player. The disc offers a signal combination with disc error patterns to rate the drive's abilities to read music and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a sequence of progressively more difficult tests. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced through a software multimedia player (e.g. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested drive.

Error Level
Slimtype eSAU208

The drive managed to correctly play the first three tracks. Problems occurred with the fourth and fifth tracks. Average behavior here. Overall, the drive exhibited mediocre performance with our defective test discs.

4. DVD error correction tests

In the following tests, we examine the DVD reading capabilities of the drive (error correction) with scratched / defective DVD media. For the tests, we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed. The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media


This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, and its surface has an artificial scratch of dimensions varying from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

The following transfer rate picture comes from the CDVD Benchmark v1.21 transfer rate test.


This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM of 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as that of the TDR-821, with the difference that there are no scratches on it but instead, defective areas of dimensions ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 mm. There are also fingerprints sized between 65 and 75 micrometers.



- Dual Layer media


This is an 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches of dimensions ranging from 0.4 to 3.0mm, on both layers.



The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the first includes defective areas and fingerprints.


The drive gave back some read errors as it was trying to access the data in the second layer (layer 1) of the disc.


The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB.The disc is based upon the TDV-540 series which is designed for inspection and adjustment of DVD-VIDEO players. The disc checks the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also includes test pictures and test signals for DVD sound files.


The LiteOn drive wasn't able to complete the reading process, and it failed a few mm before the layer switch.


The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc with a capacity of 8.5GB.The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the data surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It also has 65 - 75 micrometer fingerprints.

The drive read the disc with ease, producing a smooth graph.

- Overall

The defects on a few of the ABEX artificialy defected media were not overcome and the drive did not manage to read to the data successfully. Mediocre DVD error correction mechanisms for the LiteOn drive.

5. CD/DVD Writing quality - IQB Omni CD DVD Analyser

All CD/DVD writing quality tests are done using the IQB Omni CD DVD Analyser by Quantized. The IQB Omni from Quantized Systems is a physical disc analyser, covering all CD and DVD formats, designed to meet the Quality Control demands of the duplication and replication sectors.

Omni's features allows you to identify media quality issues and highlight drive performance and recording problems.

The system is based on a Philips CD/DVD drive. It supports the majority of the optical disc formats, including CD-ROM, CD-R/RW, CD-A

The platform can test the media for the following signals:

Reflectivity R-I14H R-I14H R-I14H
Jitter Modulation Modulation Modulation
I11/ITop Jitter Jitter Jitter
Asymmetry/Beta PI Sum 8 PI Sum 8 PI SUm 8
E11 to E32 Error Statistics POF POF POF
Burst Errors Beta Beta Asymmetry
  ADER Unc    

Test speeds for CD media are set at 16X and for DVD media at 4X.

The equipment is capable of providing mesasurments on the complete data area or at specific positions defined by the user (Quick Test mode). This zone testing procedure allows multiple areas of the disc to be tested in a single operation.

All numerical and graphical data are stored in a database. Data can be recalled with user defined criteria to create sets of related key results. Data can also be imported into most common software packages - MS Excel etc.

For more information on the Quantized IQB Omni Analyser, visit http://www.quantized.com.

In the following pages, we present the writing quality measurements of various CD and DVD recordable and rewritable media, burned with the LiteOn SLIMTYPE eSAU 208 burner.

6. CD-R writing - Taiyo Yuden @24x

For this test (and for all ensuing tests with CD-R media), the CD-R disc was burned to its maximum capacity and at its maximum speed. Then, the same disc is read with the Disc Speed software, and the disc was scanned for digital errors (C1 and C2).

-Disc Info

Taiyo Yuden 48x CD-R

- Writing strategy


Average Writing Speed: 16.99x
Writing time: 06:04 min

- Reading speed

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

The test reported no uncorrectable digital errors. Nice writing quality with the Yuden disc.

7. CD-R writing - Memorex (Ritek) @24x

-Disc Info

Memorex Ritek 48x CD-R

- Writing strategy

Average Writing Speed: 16.99x
Writing time: 06:04min

- Reading


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI


Some uncorrectable (E32) digital errors were reported here, making this burn an average one. Also, the Jitter value was constantly over limit.

8. CD-RW writing - Verbatim @16x

-Disc Info

Verbatim 32x CD-RW

- Writing strategy


Average Writing Speed: 14.39x
Writing time: 06:16min

- Reading speed

9. DVD+R writing - CMCMAG M01 @8x

We start our DVD writing quality measurements with DVD-R media. A variety of different MIDs were selected and burned at the maximum allowed speed. In each of the following pages, you will find detailed information about each disc, the burning and reading procedure as well as the related signal measurements that construct the overall quality picture for each disc.

You can always navigate across to the different MIDs in this review, using the page navigation drop down menu.

- Media Info


- Writing - 8x (5.37x average) in 13:35min


- Reading - 8X (6.13X average)

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

The drive's first burn wasn't as good as we expected, as the test reported many uncorrectable digital errors. The PISum8 error rate increased after the 40mm radius of the disc surface, while jitter was also high.

10. DVD+R writing - DAXON AZ2 @6x

- Media Info


- Writing - 6x (4.99x average) in 13:53min


- Reading - 8X (6.13x average)


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

A nice burn here, with all error rates within limits.Note that the specific burn was made at 6x.

11. DVD+R writing - Verbatim MCC 004 @8x

- Media Info


- Writing - 8x (5.37x average) in 13:36min



- Reading - 16X (12.16X average)


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI


Another nice burn for the LiteOn drive, reporting no uncorrectable digital errors.

12. DVD+R writing - PRODISC R03 @8x

- Media Info

- Writing - 8x (5.37x average) in 13:34min

- Reading - 8X (6.13X average)



- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI


This was a disappointing burn, as the uncorrectable error rate (POF) was very high.

13. DVD+R writing - YUDEN T03 @8x

- Media Info


- Writing - 8x (5.32x average) in 14:03min



- Reading - 8X (6.13X average)



- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

A very high POF spike appeared in the end of the data area. The disc was readable though, although EDC also failed in the specific point. The error may be attributed to a physical defect on the disc area, which however was not recognizable by naked eye.

14. DVD-R writing - CMCMAG AM3 @8x

- Media Info


- Writing - 8x (5.37x average) in 14:06min

- Reading - 16X (6.09X average)


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

A good burn here with almost all measured signals within limits.

15. DVD-R writing - CMCMAG AE1 @8x

- Media Info

- Writing - 8x (5.37x average) in 13:56min


- Reading - failed


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

the IQB Omni Analyzer could not measure the complete disc.

16. DVD-R writing - TYG02 @8x

- Media Info


- Writing - 8x (5.37x average) in 14:01min

- Reading - 8X (6.10X average)


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Another nice burn for the slim LiteOn drive.

17. DVD-R writing - DataWrite TTH02 @8x

- Media Info

DataWrite TTH02 DVD-R


- Writing - 8x (5.37x average) in 14:11min

- Reading - 8X (5.56X average)

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Although no POF were reported here, the PISum8 rate was high.

18. DVD-R writing - TYG03 @8x

- Media Info

- Writing - 8x (5.37x average) in 14:01min



- Reading - 8X (6.10X average)


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Exccellent burn for the LiteOn drive.

19. DVD+R DL writing - Verbatim MKM003 @6x

- Media Info

- Writing - 6x (4.73x average) in 25:42min

- Reading - 6X (4.71X average)


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

Problems were rported in Layer 1 of the disc, with both PISum8 and POF to exceed the specifications.

20. DVD-R DL writing - Verbatim MKM03RD30 @6x

- Media Info

- Writing - 6x (4.85x average) in 26:26min


- Reading - 6X (4.85X average)


- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

This time we had severe problems with the Layer0 of the disc. Extremely high rate of PISum8 as well as POFs.

21. DVD+RW writing - Verbatim MKM A03 @8x

- Media Info

- Writing - 8X (5.37x average) in 12:45min


- Reading - 6X (4.65X average)

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI


The drive shows us that it can handle the DVD+RW media pretty good.

22. DVD-RW writing - Verbatim MKM01RW6X01 @6x

- Media Info


- Writing - 6x (4.98x average) in 14:01min


- Reading - 6X (4.63X average)

- Writing Quality - iQB OMNI

23. DVD-RAM writing - Maxell MXL16 @5x

- Media Info

- Writing - 5x (4.59x average) in 12:31min



- Reading - 5X (4.61X average)

24. Summary of DVD writing quality, Bit Setting, Overburning

In the following table, we have gathered the findings of the DVD quality measurement tests. On the left side of the table, you can find the discs that did not produce uncorrectable digital errors, while on the right side are the rest of the discs. For detailed measurement data, visit the corresponding pages.

Media type
Digital errors within limits
Digital errors exceed limits
CMC MAG. AM3 burned at 8X TTH02 burned at 8X.
TYG03 burned at 8X CMC MAG. AE1 burned at 8X
TYG02 burned at 8X  
Daxon AZ2 burned at 6X CMC MAG M01 burned at 8X
Verbatim MCC 004 burned at 8X PRODISC R03 003 burned at 8X
  YUDEN000 T03 burned at 8x
DVD-R DL   Verbatim MKM 03RD30 burned at 6x
DVD+R DL   Verbatim MKM 003 burned at 6X
DVD+RW Verbatim MKM A03 burned at 8x  
DVD-RW Verbatim MKM 01RW6X01 burned at 6x  

- Booktype Settings

According to Nero Disc Speed, the drive supports the booktype feature.

- DVD Overburning

As we can see, the drive does not support overburning of DVD recordable media, according to Nero Disc Speed.

25. Final words

The eSAU 208 is a slim and compact external DVD writer, that is aimed mainly at those who have laptops that lack of a similar drive. Its small size and low weight help carrying it around without much effort, as it can fit in most of the laptop carrying bags that have a small amount of space free. Its USB-powered feature helps even more, as you don't need to be sitting near an AC plug in order to use it. Just plug it into the PC (two USB plugs - one for the data and one for the power) and you can staqrt using it immediately, with only a cost on your laptop's battery.

The reading aspect of the drive, to begin with, turned out to be pretty good, as it read every media that we inserted according to its specifications. As far as reading defected CD and DVD media, we can say that the drive handled them not as well as we would expect. Average performance with the defected CDs and read errors were produced on two of the ABEX defected DVD test discs.

Moving on to the drive's writing speed, the drive burned succesfully all MIDs according to its specifications. Only one of them wasn't readable by the drive, the CMC MAG. AE1. In addition, the drive seems to need some wotk when burning DVD-R/+R DL media. The burning quality tests that we performed generally reported good results.

All in all, the eSAU 208 is not the fastest writer around, but if you want something for your laptop, its pros overcome its slow reading and writing speeds. If this is what you are looking for, then this drive is more than recommended. It can be found online for about $70-$80. And if the black and white colors of the drive are not your favorite, the SAU108, which is also available in red colors, will soon be complemented with piano black (from February) and navy blue (from April).

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