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If I buy an external Blu-Ray drive, is it possible to watch blu ray movies via the drive? How much bandwidth does a connection need to stream a high-definition movie (like a blu ray movie)?

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Thanks for your answers, guys. A little back story: I needed to buy a USB DVD drive, so I wanted to find out if paying the extra to get a Blu-Ray would be worth it. I decided not to. – David Oneill Feb 13 '11 at 14:39
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would avoid using a USB Blu-Ray drive. The problem is that though the theoretical max of USB 2.0 is 480 Mbits/sec, it hardly anywhere near that max when sustaining a stream. You will experience choppiness from time to time when watching movies through the USB Blu-Ray drive. If you can get your hands on a USB 3.0 enclosure and are able to pop a Blu-Ray drive into that, you might be fine.

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Blu-ray movies are read with a bandwidth between 36 and 72 Mbit/s, USB 2.0 has a data rate of 480 Mbit/s. So I think it should be possible if the reader/USB host both support at least 36/73 Mbit/s throughput.

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That's a good question, and one that many people wouldn't even consider before taking the plunge. Firewire would be better for this purpose, simply because the packets of information are handled differently (controllers at both ends of the cable ninstead of just one). USB 2.0 does not generally maintain a constant data throughput and you may experience lag. Firewire was designed pretty much exactly for data streaming. USB 2.0 is good for connecting peripherals but not great for being relied upon for high bandwidth appplications. However, if it's USB 3.0 you'll be fine!

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Better to by an internal one. less to go wrong and you'll get the best speed. dont know the price differenct though, might be cheeper but you'll have to search that.

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