OWC Mercury Pro Blu-ray -- burn, baby, burn!
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OWC Mercury Pro Blu-ray -- burn, baby, burn!

If your hard drive is running out of room to store all the movies, music and software you’ve accumulated, maybe it’s time to get a Blu-ray burner. Apple may have dissed Blu-ray, but some of us love it. And we can at least burn to Blu-ray discs on a Mac even if we can't play back Blu-ray movies (at least without a kludgy workaround).

OWC's $199.99 Mercury Pro 10x Blu-ray LG Super Multi Blue External Optical Solution --that's a mouthful, so from here on it's just Big Blue -- offers a solution for cooking your own Blu-ray discs. With it you can archive massive amounts of data -- up to 50GB of data or high definition video per Blu-ray disc, or up to 8.5GB using low-cost Dual Layer DVDs. Mac OS X doesn't support Blu-ray drives (thanks for nothing, Apple) so to use Big Blue, you'll need Toast 10 Titanium Pro ($119) or Toast Titanium 9 or 10. You can find 'em at http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Roxio/242700/ and http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Roxio/242600/, respectively.

In order to burn your HD movies to Blu-ray, you'll need the following:

° HD video content from your TiVo, HD video Camera, iMovie, Final Cut, etc. From iMovie, exporting to a QuickTime movie at “Full Quality” will give you good results. In Final Cut Express, exporting as “QuickTime Movie” will give you similar results.

° A Mac with a G5 or Intel Processor running Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

° Enough free drive space as the size of the disc you wish to create (25GB or 50GB for single-layer or dual-layer, respectively). The encoding process can take quite a while, depending on your source footage and computer model. Since it takes so long to encode, you should create a disk image and burn copies of that, rather than burning directly. That way, if the burning fails for some unexpected reason you don’t have to start over from the the beginning

Big Blue comes with four interface types -- FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0 and eSATA -- and cables for all, as well as two pieces of write-once. 25GB DVD media.

Installation is easy. Plug the AC power cord in and connect it to Big Blue's DC power port. Connect the interface type to the OWC drive and your Mac. Power on Big Blue, and you're good to go. OWC recommends using either FireWire 800 or eSATA for Blu-ray burning. Take their advice. (By the way, a nice touch is that you can use the drive as a FireWire passthrough device.)

My main complaint with Big Blue is that while it worked great with Toast, it's supposed to work with iDVD, iTunes and Apple's DiscBurner. It does, sorta, but sometimes the disc burning would simply quit. Or burned discs wouldn't want to eject. But if you use Big Blue with Roxio's solutions, it works just fine.

Rating: 7 out of 10

-- Dennis Sellers


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