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Pioneer BDR-203BK Internal Blu-ray Writer review

Ardjuna Seghers



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Pioneer BDR-203BK Internal Blu-ray Writer
  • Pioneer BDR-203BK Internal Blu-ray Writer
  • Pioneer BDR-203BK Internal Blu-ray Writer
  • Pioneer BDR-203BK Internal Blu-ray Writer
  • Pioneer BDR-203BK Internal Blu-ray Writer
  • Pioneer BDR-203BK Internal Blu-ray Writer
  • BDR-203 8x Blu-ray Drive (Double-layer - BD-ROM/DVD-RAM/±R/±RW - 8x 2x 8x BD - 16x 8x 16x DVD - 32x 24x 40x CD - Serial ATA - Internal - Black - OEM)


Our Score:


Pervasive as it is, DVD is already being consigned to the bins of history as Blu-ray makes slow inroads into becoming the de-facto optical standard. Today, then, we're taking a look at a 5.25in drive from Pioneer that will not only let you read but also burn to these high-capacity discs.

So what's special about this drive? It's one of the first to offer 8x burning for single-layer (25GB) and dual-layer (50GB) writable Blu-ray (BD-R) discs. You wouldn't be able to tell from the outside, though. Unlike players such as Sony or LG, Pioneer hasn't changed the visual design of its drives much over the past few years and were it not for Pioneer removing its logo from the front and the bright green LED indicator having been reshaped and relocated, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this and the company's BDC-202BK Blu-ray drive we reviewed last year.

This means you get a plain matte black front with disc formats printed on it in white - a far cry from some of the drives out there with touches like mirror-finish fascias and full-length LEDs. On the other hand, it's a look that should fit with most rigs.

After inexplicably staying stuck in PATA/EIDE limbo for years while hard drives switched conclusively to SATA, optical drives are finally catching up. The BDR-203BK uses SATA for both power and data connectivity, which is a good thing as this newer standard means cables which are significantly thinner (meaning better airflow in your case) and easier to install.

Of course those with older motherboards that don't support SATA are left out in the cold, but then these setups would be unlikely to have the processing power and HTCP-enabled video card required for 1080p Blu-ray playback anyway. If you're just lacking SATA power from your PSU though, cheap Molex to SATA power adapters are available from most IT shops.

Compared to the class-leading 8x Blu-ray write speed, the BDR-203BK's Re-writeable Blu-ray disc (BD-RE) burning speed of 2x is not very impressive, but though there are some drives which offer 4x BD-RE writing, keep in mind that the format is in its 'infancy' and 2x is still par for the course. Naturally Pioneer's drive can also read and write CDs and DVDs. However, unlike many competitors it can't handle HD-DVD, something to keep in mind if you have any interest in the now-defunct high-definition format (which is still available to rent and buy pre-owned).

CD-writing speeds of 32x CD-R and 24x CD-RW aren't cutting edge either with many DVD-Rewriters offering 48x and 32x respectively, but still plenty for most users. Slow DVD-writing speeds of 16x (DVD-R/+R), 8x (DVD-R/+R DL), 8x (DVD+RW), 6x (DVD-RW) and 5x (DVD-RAM) are less forgivable when dedicated DVD-writers offer speeds of up to 24x, but again it depends on how important this speed difference is to you - to be honest most consumers won't need faster than this.

Amnon Glick

June 13, 2009, 1:51 pm

Good review.

The review had to note that the BR media is still very expensive and there is no point at this time to burn home made BR's. Hard disks are cheaper than ever these days.


June 16, 2009, 3:01 am

I can't help but think that Blu-ray exhausted itself in a battle against HD-DVD, and will ultimately wonder why it fought that battle when the real war was somewhere else - online delivery and SSD / Flash memory.

Hard media like this must be spending a fortune propping itself up. Money that could be better spent in delivering quality online content at a price point that discourages piracy (see the Virgin Music news from today too).

I stopped using my floppy drive in my PC some 3 years ago. I only use the DVD drive in my PC to play an older game, or to burn a CD for the car, and the latter I expect to disappear when the car is replaced.


June 17, 2009, 3:09 am

@Greg: When only 75% of the population is predicted to have a 5Mbit+ broadband speed when the 21CN network rollout is complete in 2012 online distribution isn't going to replace 50GB disks just yet. SSD/Flash may replace blu-ray, but if it does happen it'll probably be a gentle transistion.

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