Having passed through the era of lugging bulky 3kg+ laptops and accessories around airports, it is a relief to find CAD capable machines such as the excellent Sony R600 at almost half the weight and size.
While ultimate portability means base unit specification is focused on the essentials, the only necessary accessories should be a mains unit, a modem lead and when necessary a CDRW.
Of course any such drive should maintain the portability theme and certainly avoid the need to carry a second dedicated power supply.
The Freecom Traveller II Combo promises just this, offering CD writing and DVD play in a unit just 150 x 145 x 18 mm and 352g and when using the PCMCIA lead no need for external power.
Unfortunately this is not true for all laptops and particularly, it would seem, ultra portables as the voltage supplied through the PCMIA slot is limited to conserve precious system power.
In such cases the drive will not run without additional power and to avoid the need to carry a power supply the Combo is supplied with an optional rechargeable battery pack.
This can be supplemented by whatever power the portable is supplying and can therefore offer up to 6 hours usage.
Although this is an elegant workaround, the 150g battery does not fit entirely within the lean drive package adding some 7 mm to the unit thickness and raising the issue of whether the battery is fully charged before leaving on a trip.
If relying on the battery is acceptable, the alternative Multi Connect system leads can be selected from Parallel, IEEE1394 Firewire / iLink and USB although data transfer rates clearly varies between these.
This flexible, modular approach should allow the drive to be shared between PC's or to some extent future proof the drive itself.
Freecom supply Roxio's Easy CD Creator software including Direct CD for writing to CD's in the same way as any other path, plus PowerDVD for video playback.
The drive offers 8x write, 4x rewrite, 24x CD read and 8x DVD read speeds and has a 2MB data buffer.
The drive is available for around £255 with Multiconnect leads around £25.