In our July issue, we reviewed OWC’s Mercury Pro 8x Blu-ray External and found the drive’s performance puzzling. In short, the Mercury Pro’s BD-R write speeds belied its 8x rating, with the drive taking nearly an hour to fill a 25GB disc with data, compared with the 22-plus minutes it took LG’s 6x GBW-H20L. It got us wondering whether the issues were more the fault of OWC’s external enclosure or the Pioneer 8x Blu-ray drive at its heart.
This month we were able to answer that question as we tested Pioneer’s BDR-2203, the same drive used in the Mercury Pro. We immediately cut to the chase, testing the BDR-2203’s BD-R write performance. While the Mercury Pro was incompatible with the Nero DiscSpeed app we use for our optical drive tests—forcing us to use Nero 8’s Burn Express instead—the BDR-2203 had no such problems. Using DiscSpeed along with 4x Verbatim media, the drive wrote 22.5GB of data to a BD-R disc in 14:56 (min:sec)—a Lab record!—maintaining 8x speeds through much of the job. With rewriteable media, the drive’s performance wasn’t quite as impressive. The BDR-2203 held a steady 2x speed when filling a 25GB BD-RE disc, for a time of 45:35, much like the Mercury Pro—and 15 percent slower than the LG GBW-H20L’s BD-RE write time.
Recordable Blu-ray media has been expensive, and slow to catch on, but would a bump to 100GB capacities change your mind? New developments made by Sharp could do just that by introducing a blue-violet laser which is able to read triple-layer or even quad-layer Blu-ray disks. Current BD-R single layer disks hold a mere 25GB.
The light put out by the beam is much stronger than traditional readers at 500mW, and it is made possible thanks to an aluminum oxynitride layer that is located squarely between the laser’s crystal and dielectric film which is meant to protect the laser.
In addition to capacity increases, this could also allow for writing speeds of up to 8x across all four layers, making it a much more interesting archiving option for digital packrats. Prices and availability still haven’t been announced yet, but the company describes the technology as “production ready”. At the very least it would be nice to see a new affordable disk option come along to replace those aging 4.7GB DVD’s, which frankly, just don’t cut it size wise anymore.
Are you itching for new recordable disks, or is flash the future of the sneaker net?
On the surface, OWC’s Mercury Pro Blu-ray external drive could seem appealing. The cabinet is attractive and sturdy; it offers FireWire 400, FireWire 800, USB 2.0, and eSATA interfaces—including all the requisite cables; and it holds a Pioneer BDR-203 drive, which is rated at 8x for BD-R writes—the highest rating available—and 16x for DVD+/-R. Yet, after using the device, we’re unimpressed.
We first tried to test the drive with the eSATA interface but it failed to work with any of our test beds, which use the nForce 680i SLI chipset. It was recognized by motherboards using Intel’s P45 and X58 chipsets as well as those boards’ auxiliary Marvell controllers. However, we benchmarked using USB 2.0 on our standard test bed for continuity.
After strongly backing HD-DVD during the format wars of yesteryear, Toshiba has announced that they plan on releasing a Blu-ray player, and have applied to join the Blu-ray Disc Association.
“In light of recent growth in digital devices supporting the Blu-ray format, combined with market demand from consumers and retailers alike, Toshiba has decided to join the BDA,” stated an official press release. “Toshiba aims to introduce digital products that support the Blu-ray format, including BD players and notebook PCs integrating BD drives, in the course of this year. Details of the products, including the timing of regional launches, are now under consideration. We will make announcements in due course.”
So, as you can gather, there’s no word yet on any pricing or availability, but they’ll surely keep the world posted.
Web chatter has it that Apple might be releasing iTunes 9 as early as next month, but that's only half of what's been spinning in the rumor mill. Citing a "pretty reliable source," the Boy Genius Report feels fairly confident Blu-ray support will be added to the upcoming release. The rumor coincides with another one from Apple Insider claiming that the new iMacs will also integrate Blu-ray support. Apparently the time is right for Apple to make the jump.
"Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt," Steve Jobs said last October. "It's great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we're waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace."
Getting back to the iTunes software, version 9 is also said to allow iPhone and iTouch owners to arrange icons and applications from within iTunes, rather than having to do it on the device itself. iTunes 9 is also rumored to offer some kind of integration with Twitter, Facebook, and Last.FM, The Apple Blog reports.
It appears CBHD (China Blue High-Definition), formerly known as CH-DVD (China High Definition DVD), has a shot at doing something HD-DVD never could: Beat Blu-ray. Or at least that's the case in Japan.
Apparently a Japanese news station ran the numbers and confirmed that the CBHD format holds a 3 percent market share lead over Blu-ray, FormatWarCentral.com reports. The revelation was presented as part of a documentary, which you can view here, though you're on your own in translating the dialogue.
Under its former designation, the CBHD format was first announced in September 2007 as a joint venture between OMNERC and the DVD Forum, the latter of which was responsible for the failed HD-DVD format. CBHD supporters hope the format will succeed where HD-DVD didn't by offering better copy protection features. However, Warner Brothers is so far the only Hollywood studio to support CBHD.
Earlier in the week Sony announced that they’d be releasing two new Blu-ray megachangers, both of which will hold up to 400 discs.
The two new megachangers will come in the form of the $800 BDP-CX960, which will arrive sometime in the fall, and the BDP-CX7000ES, which will retail for $2,000 and arrive in August. Why the huge price difference? In short, the CX960 will only come equipped with standard Blu-ray player features, such as Profile 2.0 and onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The CX7000ES will add 7.1 analog outputs, an RS-232 port, notably higher build quality, IR inputs and outputs, and supposedly higher quality video.
So, if you’re the kind of person that has a gigantic stack of movies that needs to be cleaned up, this just might be for you. But, with a price tag that’s $800 at the lowest, it’s a pretty tough sell.
I need recommendations on building a box that will play Blu-ray discs. My main computer (Q6600, Nvidia 8800 GT, 64-bit Vista, 8GB RAM) plays them fine. My media rig (older AMD, Nvidia 7900, XP Home, 4GB RAM) chokes on Blu-ray discs. When playing Blu-ray, which is more important, videocard or processor? Should I buy a cheaper processor—say, a Core 2 paired with a beefy GTX 850—or a quad-core with a 9500? And should I go Vista, or will XP be fine?
I’m ripping Blu-ray discs to the hard drive and playing them with PowerDVD 8 Ultra.
For a long while, it seemed as though Plextor was content to fade from memory after ruling the optical market, that is until the company announced a bunch of optical drives last November and a spattering of releases since then. Plextor's back again, this time with a new internal 8X Blu-ray reader and DVD/CD writer combo, the PX-B320SA.
"We're pleased to be able to offer consumers a versatile, multi-feature drive that offers faster Blu-ray read speeds as well as a way to burn data to CD or DVD," said Christine Hsing, Marketing Manager at Plextor. "Additionally, having Cyberlink's BD Suite software included will make it easy for consumers to enhance existing DVD content using the same drive."
Tech specs include reading Blu-ray discs at 8X, DVD±R at 16X, DVD±R DL and DVD+RW at 8X, DVD-RW at 6X, and DVD-RAM at 12X. And in addition to CyberLink software, the drive also comes with Plextor's PlexUTILITIES app.
Plextor says the drive is available now for $179 MSRP.
You probably have an old processor lying around that you ended up modding into a keychain, but to take your geek cred to a whole new level, try wielding a blu-ray laser like a light saber the next time you fumble around for your house key.
Not only can it be done, but "jayrob," a DIY lasers expert, has posted a worklog of how he built his own using a keychain light made from a solid piece of brass that he picked up from Lowe's. In short, Jay stuffed a laser diode and a larger battery inside, did a little drilling, and ended up with the coolest keychain we've ever seen.