Using the Plextor PX-B120U Blu-Ray BDROM Drive with a Mac

A few notes from my initial use of the Plextor PX-B120U external USB BD-ROM drive (you can pick it up for under $100!):

  1. You need to plug the drive directly into your Mac, or use a USB hub capable of providing enough juice to power the device directly. Since the Plextor drive doesn't actually have an AC adapter, it needs all its juice through the USB port. (I was trying to plug it into my weak Belkin USB hub, and that wasn't working).
  2. You can use the drive with VMWare Fusion, but it seems you need Windows Vista or Windows 7 to be able to actually do anything besides read DVDs or CDs with the drive.
  3. I don't have Windows 7 (yet), so I can't yet test how well a new iMac can play back Blu-Ray discs using the included CyberLink PowerDVD 9 BD.
  4. I am evaluating MakeMKV (a native BD/DVD ripper for the Mac) to see if it will be able to do what I did for my HD-DVD collection—back everything up in full HD, including the surround sound tracks (I'm okay with Dolby Digital 5.1...)

I'll post back here with any new updates I find.

[Update: MakeMKV is absolutely amazing - it takes a while to rip all the tracks off a Blu-Ray to disk (heck, just copying 20+ GB of data on any medium takes a while), but once finished, the MKV plays well in VLC, and you can use Handbrake to convert the MKV to an iTunes/iPhone/iPad/AppleTV/Xbox 360-compatible MPEG-4 video file (.mp4 or .m4v).

Update 2: Also check out my latest article on Lifeisaprayer.com: Ripping Movies from Blu-Ray and DVD, Getting them onto Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, etc.

Awesome.]

Jeff Geerling is a Technical Architect at Acquia, owner of Midwestern Mac, LLC, and author of Ansible for DevOps. He is an active contributor in the Drupal community, and has primarily been a Mac user since the 1990s.

Comments

Grant Steele's picture

Thanks for posting this. I'm just about to go and buy one, for the same reason - usings MakeMKV and Handbrake to backup BRD. Cheers.

michael's picture

are you able to backup dvds? blurays work fine for me with this drive,but i'm not able to open dvds in makemkv.

Justin's picture

Thanks so much for this article and the other on your personal site. I was wondering though, what about the faster internal BD-Rom drives? The drive that is listed above is a 4x read drive, while internal drives on newegg have speeds up to 12x. Since I have a PC at home that I could use an internal drive in, then pass the files over the network to my Mac, that would be ideal if I could get ripping speeds of 3x faster.

Or, is there something special about that drive?

Jeff Geerling's picture

This drive works great with laptop Macs, iMacs or Mac minis, and since I don't want to buy a Mac Pro or a PC just to use an internal drive, I'm happy with 4x speed... it would be much faster to get a 12x drive, but USB is the limiting factor here.

My hope is that someone will introduce a Thunderbolt drive capable of 12 or even 24x, but we'll see...

Plus, you can't beat $99!

Personal site: jeffgeerling.com.

Jeff Geerling's picture

Are you using it plugged straight into your MacBook Pro or through a hub, keyboard or monitor? Try plugging it straight in and see if it works then.

Personal site: jeffgeerling.com.

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