- It can burn to DVDs and CDs, as well as BD-R and BD-RE discs; it burnt BD-R discs relatively quickly
- Its DVD and CD performance is slower than that of a dedicated DVD burner
While adopting the Blu-ray standard is an expensive undertaking, this drive is a step in the right direction, which serves its intended purpose well. For users who want to create their own Blu-ray content, this drive is ideal. It can perform all the functions of a regular DVD burner, in addition to burning Blu-ray discs at relatively quick rate.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
For early adopters, Pioneer's BDR-202BK Blu-ray writer is a good choice. It's priced at just under $900, and it can perform all the functions of a typical DVD burner, as well as read and write to Blu-ray discs. In fact, it's an especially good tool for professional users who are looking to produce and distribute their own high-definition movies. Pioneer ships the drive with CyberLink BD Solution, which is a suite that allows discs to be burnt, movies to be played back and video to be edited and prepared for burning to Blu-ray.
Functionally, Blu-ray discs can be burnt to in the same way as DVDs -- simply drag and drop data into the CyberLink recording program and hit the burn button. When compared to DVDs, Blu-ray can hold up to 23GB of data stored on the one disc. This makes it the perfect medium for storing large data files and backups for music libraries, for example.
The BDR-202BK can write to Blu-ray discs at a rate of 4x, which is actually quite zippy. It even managed to burn to our 2x Verbatim BD-R discs at a rate of 4x. It took 23min 52sec to complete a 23GB burn, which is impressive considering it took longer to write 7.87GB of data to a double-layer DVD+R disc.
Indeed, its DVD specifications aren't as impressive as the specifications that can be found on a dedicated, sub-$100 DVD burner. It has a maximum burn speed of 12x for single-layer DVDs (18x is the norm for current-generation DVD burners), and this is the speed at which our 16x DVD+R Verbatim discs were burnt at. It took 7min 14sec to burn 4.1GB of data to these discs. Its DVD+R DL performance, too was a little slow. Although it's rated at 8x, it was only able to burn to our Verbatim discs at 4x. As such, it burnt 7.87GB of data in 26min 55sec.
The drive created reliable burns, and each one was subsequently read back to our test system without any problems. DVD+R discs took almost an identical time to be read back (7min 14sec) as they did to be written (7min 15sec), while DVD+R DL discs were read back faster than they were burnt (19min 49sec, as opposed to 26min 55sec).
However, it was much slower at reading back our burnt Blu-ray disc. Despite having a rated read speed of 5x for Blu-ray discs, which is faster than the rated burn speed for this type of disc (4x), it took 37min 10sec to transfer the data back to our 7200rpm hard drive. Blu-ray re-writeable performance, using the supplied InstantBurn 5.0 application, is also slow, as the rated write speed for BD-RE discs is 2x, and the read speed is 5x.
For watching Blu-ray movies, the BDR-202BK is ideal. Using the supplied CyberLink software, we ran the drive on a system equipped with an ATI Radeon HD2900 XT graphics card and a Samsung SyncMaster 275T monitor, both of which are HDCP-compatible products. Blu-ray movies played back smoothly at their maximum resolution.
Physically, the drive relies on a Serial ATA connection, which means it's easy to install and won't contribute much to the clutter of cables inside a PC, and it's a very sturdy burner. We tested it in our Lian-Li ATX mid-tower case and couldn't feel any vibration when the drive was at full speed.
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