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Even a short year ago, Blu-ray Disc on PC was quite a rarity, and those devices that were available tended to be high on price and short on features and design.

This has changed as Blu-ray continues to make inroads into popular usage, which includes computing. Products like the new SBW-06C1S-U combo drive from ASUS exemplify this trend. First of all, the design itself marks a departure from the merely utilitarian. The slim profile and nicely finished exterior are quite attractive, and there are even adjustable blue lights that can be accessed from the user interface software, just in case you want to put more emphasis on the “blu” in Blu-ray.

But the functionality of devices like the SBW-06C1S-U is where progress is showing the most. This is a full Blu-ray, DVD and CD reader and burner, so it pretty much covers every common disc format. It can play all of them as a regular drive, and then act as a versatile optical media burner, as well. The burn is controlled by something called BluTuner, which adjusts write temperatures and speed to maintain optimum data reliability. ASUS is telling us the Blu-ray burn speed averages at 6X, which is fast compared to what’s available on the market.

Also, the SBW-06C1S-U offers 3D playback of Blu-ray Disc content, as well as 5.1 channel digital surround. This makes it a powerful component for those looking to assemble an entertainment center, and the compact form factor helps keep things organised and neat. There’s also no power adapter needed, as the device gets power from the PC it’s connected to over USB.

With the CyberLink PowerDVD software that comes with this drive, consumers can even “upscale” 2D Blu-ray movies to 3D in real time. All 3D content requires a compatible 3D-able screen and active shutter glasses.

There’s no doubt Blu-ray has become a standard to contend with, and the de facto storage standard for HD video content. With talk of ultra high definition and the upcoming 2160p resolution (supported by Blu-ray), the process has just begun.

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