Pioneer just took the wraps off of its newest optical drive, the BDR-S03J. Coming in January, the new Blu-ray capable unit will read and burn Blu-ray discs, DVD+/-RW and CDs.
The new Pioneer drive will record to Blu-ray write-once discs at 8x speed, making it only the second drive (after Sony’s own unit) to do so. Even though no 8x media currently exists for Blu-ray drives, the BDR-S03J will reportedly support burning 4x and 6x media at 8x speeds. Given just how much data (currently up to 50GB) can be put onto one side of a disc, every increase in recording speeds helps that much more. The drive isn’t so speedy at Blu-ray re-writeable discs, however, offering only 2x recording speed. At 50GB, that’s over an hour and a half; for a more traditional 25GB disc, it’s still around 46 minutes. The 8x single-write discs can be burned in 23 minutes for a 50GB disc and just over 11 for a 25GB side. Twenty-five gigabytes of data in eleven minutes is very impressive, considering how long it takes to burn a regular DVD.
Unfortunately, however, Blu-ray recordable discs are still heinously expensive, with the cheapest single layer disc I’ve seen costing $5. That’s also for a 2x disc, which would be risky trying to burn to at 8x, given the cost. 4x discs, compatible with the Pioneer drive’s high-speed mode, cost around $11, and a dual-layer disc still costs clost to a whopping $40!
Pioneer is also marketing the error-correcting features of the drive, suggesting that both CDs and DVDs will play despite being scratched and dirty. Given how easy it is to scratch those optical discs, this is a handy option to have.
The BDR-S03J will be available early next year, starting off in Japan. It will be available both in white and black finishes. The drive comes with a copy of PowerDVD 8, to take advantage of the Blu-ray features. No price point was set, though $399 was thrown around.
AV Watch (machine translated from Japanese)