Dear Lifehacker, since January of this year I've been looking to buy an external Blu Ray burner so I can burn Blu-rays and DVDs to watch on my TV. Every site has their own "Top 10" but they're all different. I'm not looking for the greatest, but at the same time I don't want to spend 20 bucks on a piece of junk. I'm on an iMac that's only a year old — so it's not an outdated paperweight. Thanks, Little Boy Blue
It's unfortunate, but external Blu-ray players are becoming harder to find as PC and Mac peripherals as streaming services become more popular, as flash storage gets much cheaper, and as streaming devices like Google's Chromecast and the Apple TV become more ubiquitous. Because there's not a great deal of choice out there, you're restricted to a precious few devices that are a little more expensive than you'd like. But, if you've been waiting nearly a year, you may as well bite the bullet and spend a little bit extra to get that peace of mind.
You're actually in an interesting situation in that if you were buying for a PC, your choice would be a fair bit easier — but since you're tied to an external device, at least you don't have to go through the hassle of physically installing one in your machine's chassis. Most modern Blu-ray burners should work equally well with a Mac, but it's always worth triple-checking before you buy. You ideally want a straightforward, USB-bus-powered external Blu-ray burner, and there are a couple of great choices I can recommend.
From my own personal experience, I actually own a ~$110 Samsung SE-506AB and have used it perfectly successfully on both PC and Mac. I haven't tried the ~$120 Pioneer BDR-XD05, but it's USB 3.0 and should be a fair bit faster. These are both reputable companies with good warranty services, and the devices themselves have been solidly reviewed. Remember that you might need to invest in some new DVD- or Blu-Ray-burning software, too.
With that said, I would also suggest you give some serious thought to those alternatives I mentioned before. A 128GB Sandisk Cruzer flash drive is barely more than $50, and you can find a faster USB 3.0 variant for not much more coin. You could buy two for the price of a Blu-ray burner, and that's not even counting the substantial ongoing cost of consumable disks (unless you're spending more upfront again on some rewritables). Flash drives are a great way to temporarily or permanently lend out files to friends, and they're obviously reusable too. If you're happy with your Apple ecosystem, too, an Apple TV — which you could AirPlay movies and other files to from your iMac — is only $109.
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This article originally appeared on Gizmodo.