First Look: First Blu-ray is awesome
Blu-ray Disc is one of the two competing formats struggling to replace conventional DVDs. The format is based on blue laser technology, offering several times the storage capacity of current DVDs. Blu-ray stores 25 GB on a single layer disc and uses a new disc structure that puts the recording layer much closer to the laser. The format of the competition, but incompatible - HD-DVD - stores a little less: 15 GB of data in a single layer disc. HD-DVD disc has a structure similar to that of DVD. No HD-DVD burners have been announced.
Speed Tests - on target
We tested a production-level BDR-101A unit with shrink wrap TDK BD-R Electronics, and near, but not quite-final software from Sonic. Installing the drive was standard fare for an IDE drive: It looks and feels like an ordinary optical drive, and it was very easy to install in our test system.
In our tests, this unit an impressive performance, close to its expected performance. It took 44 minutes, 45 seconds to master 22GB of data to BD-R using the bundled Sonic DigitalMedia SE software. This results in a yield of 67 Mbps, compared to the theoretical maximum of 72 Mbps for 2X BD-R (where 1X BD = 36 mbps). It takes a little longer to copy the same disc back to the hard drive. The promise of large capacity on a single disc is attractive not only for storing video and multimedia, but also to simplify data backup. That is slightly longer than it can be burned to five single-layer DVD-R, but a little less than it takes to burn the same capacity, double layer DVD + R - without swapping discs .
For example, the Plextor PX-760A, the fastest DVD burner we've tested in our laboratory, it takes 5 minutes and 50 seconds to transfer a 4.35GB single layer 18X DVD + R. 10X Dual Layer burns, Plextor required 14 minutes, 34 seconds to write 7.9GB to a disk.Not surprisingly, however, if speed is your goal, a hard drive remains a faster bet. We have copied the same 22GB of data on a disk Maxtor OneTouch III Turbo external hard (a 1 terabyte drive configured with RAID 0). It took 17 minutes, 20 seconds to copy the data on the hard disk.
Blu-Ray Specs unit: Alphabet Soup
Chief among the supported formats for the BDR-101A is a single-layer 25GB BD-R, the variant of write-once Blu-ray Disc and 25GB BD-RE, the nomenclature of BD rewritable discs. The Pioneer drive is rated to read BD-R, BD-RE and BD-ROM (the commercial print media) at 2X - the same speed as the support for writing to BD-R and BD-RE. The BDR-101A is also capable of writing with a single layer DVD ± R at 8X, dual layer DVD-R at 2X, dual-layer DVD + R 2.4 X, and 4X DVD ± RW. Reading speeds are 8X for DVD-ROM and DVD ± R, 6X for DVD ± R DL and DVD ± RW. These rates of speed-writing are lower than what you expect in a dedicated DVD recorder.
In addition, the unit has 8 MB buffer for writing BD and 2 MB buffer for recording DVD.
As he did with his first DVD authoring solutions, Pioneer says that this unit is aimed at the professional market - a strategic maneuver that explains the relative paucity of software included with the unit. Usually, this hearing has already been high-end authoring software, either for the development of content of films or games. The drive ships with Sonic DigitalMedia SE software for copying discs and write data, however, does not include components for creating records or packet writing. According to Pioneer, customers will be able to update - in a yet-to-be-determined discount - a version with more features DigitalMedia software (which would include disc authoring and packet writing) when available. (At this point, none of the major software vendors are shipping BD-RE packet writing software, but the whole plan to do so.)
Although you can not find Blu-ray Disc still play Pioneer unit when available. As with other Blu-ray (and, indeed, the HD-DVD) devices coming out now, this unit is compatible with the specifications of provisional copy protection AACS (Advanced Access Content System). This means that the unit will not handle future developments as AACS content management system, a highly anticipated addition to the specification that is still being hashed out by the studios and technology companies in question.
However, Blu-ray Disc is ready for professionals who need a unit in which the author and the BD test, and for early adopters who can not wait to get their hands on the latest storage technology. Pioneer BDR-101A burner is only a first salvo in what promises to be a new wave of units: It has some limitations, but the unit also features high-capacity removable storage that users are clamoring for.