Pioneer BD-R 101A Blu-ray Drive


Blu-ray has finally arrived, and like a lot of first-gen products, it’s big on price, but not so big on performance. Sure, we used it in the Dream Machine last month, and we stand by that decision. The Dream Machine is all about the bleeding-edge—it boasted a beta BIOS, a beta chipset, and a Blu-ray drive too, damn it, despite despite the fact that Blu-ray movies and blank media are incredibly scarce.

Now that we’re back in the real world, however, it’s time for a sober assessment of Blu-ray technology. Does it work? Yes. Can it really burn 25GB onto a disc? Yes—though in reality, the burned discs actually contain about 22.5GB, due to the whole “how many bytes are in a megabyte?” problem. And finally, the big question: Is Blu-ray worth the cost? The answer is, to put it bluntly, hell no .

Let’s look at the reasons to pass on this drive. The most obvious is cost. At $1,000 the BD-R 101A costs more than a decent PC—an insane price for an optical drive. Second, it’s not very fast, for burning either Blu-ray recordable (BD-R) or DVD-R. It burns DVDs at just 8x, and burns Blu-ray at 2x—which translates into a pokey 9MB per second. The drive’s slow speed makes it very quiet, but it takes a whopping 45 minutes and 18 seconds to burn a 22.5GB disc.

It gets worse. The BD-R 101A can’t read or write to CD, which is a massive oversight from the perspective of gamers and music lovers. Furthermore, the drive doesn’t come with software to watch Blu-ray movies, and there isn’t any third-party player software available at this time. Pioneer ships a bare-bones version of Roxio with the drive, which lets you burn data discs, but that’s about it. The dearth of software is even more surprising given this drive’s outrageous price.

For mere mortals, this drive simply isn’t worth the money. When speeds ramp up and media and movies are more readily available, it’ll be a more attractive prospect. For now, it’s nothing more than a novelty.

Month Reviewed: October 2006

Verdict: 4


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