Pioneer BDR-206MBK review

£190
Price when reviewed

The growth of Blu-ray in desktop PCs has proved steady rather than stratospheric, but the technology continues to develop. Pioneer’s BDR-206MBK is the first BDXL drive we’ve seen, which means it supports triple-layer BD-R (write-once) and BD-RE (rewritable) discs with huge capacities of 100GB, and even 128GB quad-layer BD-R discs.

Pioneer BDR-206MBK review

Given the layers involved, the Pioneer limits burning of these new BDXL discs to 4x speed, rather than the 8x of single and dual-layer discs. It also supports the full range of legacy formats, from CD to DVD+/-R DL, although it isn’t the fastest drive with older media, either: its 8x speed for writing DVD discs is tripled by cheaper, dedicated drives.

Pioneer BDR-206MBK

We filled a triple-layer 100GB BD-R disc with a mixture of large and small files designed to replicate a typical backup – using CyberLink Media Suite 8, which is included with the drive – and it took 1hr 34mins to complete. The resulting transfer rate of 16MB/sec isn’t the quickest around, but bear in mind that you’ll probably be backing up fewer discs as a result of the extra capacity.

The bigger downside, inevitably, comes at the checkout. The drive itself will set you back £158 exc VAT, around twice the price of standard Blu-ray writers and four times a basic Blu-ray reader. But as usual, it’s the BDXL media that ramps up the cost: 100GB triple-layer BD-R discs currently cost around £33 exc VAT each, and quad-layer 128GB media is sure to be even more expensive when it eventually goes on sale. Admittedly, BDXL gives the security of a physical disc archive, but the low price of multi-terabyte hard disks makes that look incredibly poor value.

Prices will fall as more BDXL products reach the market, but to do so quickly they’ll need to sell in large quantities, and it’s difficult to see such a niche product repeating the consumer boom experienced when blank CDs first got us all excited. All that said, if you’ve decided on the path of optical archiving, the Pioneer BDR-206MBK archives truly vast amounts of data in reasonably short lengths of time.

Details

Optical disc technologyBDXL writer
Blu-ray write speed6x

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