The SE-208GB comes in a small black and white box. While there aren't a lot of details on the front, the back of the box lists many of the drive's features including support for technologies like AV Connectivity, Smart Archive and M-DISC. Inside the box, you'll find the SE-208GB, a USB cable, quick installation guide and a software CD containing CyberLink's Media Suite.
The drive Samsung sent us for this review was manufactured in July of 2014 and had firmware TS00. At the time of this review, this is the only firmware available for the SE-208GB.
The Samsung SE-208GB is one of the smallest DVD writers on the market today. Measuring 148.6 x 14 mm x 146 mm, it's not much larger than a couple of jewel cases stacked on top of one another.
The body of the SE-208GB is constructed out of lightweight, black plastic. The top of the drive has a glossy finish with a small, white Samsung logo printed along one of the edges. The LED and eject button are also located on top of the drive. This LED lights up green when both reading and writing.
The bottom and sides of the SE-208GB have a normal matte finish. There are also four small rubber feet on the bottom to keep it from sliding around when placed on a flat surface.
Along the rear, you can see the SE-208GB's USB 2.0 interface. This connector not only transfers data but provides power for the drive.
The SE-208GB is the latest DVD writer from Samsung to offer support for their exclusive AV Connectivity technology. This unique feature lets you connect the drive to a TV, Android tablet or other AV device via USB and play back the music, pictures and videos stored on a CD or DVD.
To put the SE-208GB into AV Connectivity mode, simply hold down the eject button for 3 seconds while the tray is open. When you do this, the drive will be recognized as a USB memory device rather than an optical drive.
Samsung's AV Connectivity technology does have its limitations. It only works with CD and DVD (except DVD-RAM) media using UDF or ISO-9660 file systems. The number of files it can recognize is also limited to 3000 and they must be located in a directory no more than five levels deep. Furthermore, the number and size of the files determines the amount of time it takes the drive to recognize a disc. With a 4.3GB DVD, it can take up to two and a half minutes for the SE-208GB to read the contents and convert the file system to FAT32 so that it can be used by AV devices.
The SE-208GB is also equipped with Samsung's Smart Archive technology. Unlike other existing optical disc archive technologies, this feature offers a recording quality that is optimized for DVDs used to store content for an extended time. The technology follows standard DVD formatting that is compatible with M-DISCs, archival discs (ISO10995 standard) and qualified normal discs.
To use Smart Archive you need Cyberlink Media Suite version 10 or higher which is included with the SE-208GB. To create an Archival DVD, launch Cyberlink Media Suite, click Data & Backup and then create a new Data Disc. From there, click on the Archival DVD icon located on the right-hand side of the Data Disc column.
Take note that when creating an Archival DVD, the maximum capacity is limited to 4,100 MB instead of the 4,488 MB that is normally available on a single layer DVD.
By looking at the picture below, you can see that Samsung's new DVD writer is identified as an "TSSTcorp CDDVDW SE-208GB."
Nero also shows that the SE-208GB has a maximum CD writing speed of 24x and a 704KB buffer. This buffer is also backed up by Super Link buffer underrun protection. According to Nero, the SE-208GB can also write CD-Text and overburn. When testing the drive's capacity, it had no problems overburning up to 99 minutes with our CompUSA media.
Using Alex Noe's Weak Sector Utility we were able to determine that the SE-208GB is a "two sheep" burner. This means that Samsung's new drive is capable of backing up titles protected by SafeDisc 2, including version 2.51.
Here is a screen shot from Erik Deppe's Opti Drive Control. Among other things, this program queries the drive to see what its reading and writing capabilities are. Opti Drive Control had no problems detecting the SE-208GB's reading and writing speeds and supported disc types.
Opti Drive Control also shows that the SE-208GB is an RPC-2 DVD drive. This means that the drive's region is stored in the firmware. The region can be changed five times and after that it cannot be changed anymore. Unfortunately, a patched RPC-1 firmware is not yet available for this drive.
While Opti Drive Control gives us a quick glance at the SE-208GB's features, DVDINFOpro provides a little more information on some of the drive's reading and writing capabilities. By looking at the screenshot above you can see that while Samsung's new drive can read and write to DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL and DVD-RAM media, it does not support technologies like LightScribe or Labelflash.
The SE-208GB doesn't let you set the book type of DVD+RW discs. However, using software like Nero, you can set the book type for DVD+R and DVD+R DL media to "DVD-ROM." This greatly reduces compatibility problems, especially with older DVD players.