Before Pioneer's BDR-XD04 came along, the idea of carrying a Blu-ray burner in your laptop bag wasn't all that practical. At just 0.55 inches thick, however, the new USB-powered external drive brings all the capacious benefits of BD in a form factor that's legitimately portable. Just don't expect it to win any awards for performance; in exchange for dimensions that Pioneer claims are the smallest in the world for a Blu-ray burner, you'll need to settle for USB 2.0 connectivity and a less-than-stellar 6x write speed.

That said, the BDR-XD04 can handle just about any type of disc you place inside its clamshell design (including Blu-ray 3D media), and features what the company calls PowerRead and PureRead2+, technologies that help the device maintain smooth playback despite fingerprints and / or minor scratches. Expect Pioneer's BDR-XD04 Blu-ray burner to begin shipping in the middle of January at an MSRP of $149.99.