updated 10:40 am EDT, Tue July 28, 2009
Pioneer today helped fill the need for external optical drives among netbooks and ultraportables by releasing the DVR-XD09. Replacing the earlier XD08, it writes and reads single-layer DVDs at 8X but has a footprint only slightly larger than the disc itself, making it even smaller than the older model. It's similarly light at half a pound and uses top loading instead of the usual front drive bay.
The drive additionally writes dual-layer and rewritable DVDs at 6X as well as CDs of any type up to 24X. Designed to be universal, the drive attaches to most USB-equipped computers and should be bus-powered rather than depend on an AC adapter. Pioneer supplies the XD09 in August for $80.