The Buffalo BR-816FBS is an internal Blu-ray Disc drive, a repackaged version of the Panasonic SW-5584 able to write to BD-R media at eight-speed.
Unlike previous Buffalo Blu-ray drives, the Buffalo BR-816FBS uses the CyberLink Suite, a wise choice. CyberLink Suite is a well-designed package that covers the full gamut of features, and provides reasonable ease of use.
Disappointingly, rewriteable BD-REs can still only be written to at a rate of two-speed by the Buffalo BR-816FBS, but DVD speeds have been bolstered, with eight-speed double-layer writing of DVD-R and DVD+R media available.
This doesn't quite bring the Buffalo BR-816FBS up to the 10-speed/12-speed capabilities of standard DVD writers, but it does now make a Blu-ray Disc drive a viable option for DVD writing as well - the quad-speed capabilities offered by other Blu-ray drives are simply too slow for most people now. CD-Rs can be written to at a rate of 48-speed - a modest improvement, although unlikely to be one that's going to affect today's PC user.
So how does the drive perform? The headline figure is undoubtedly the Buffalo BR-816FBS's ability to write to BD-Rs at eight-speed, and here the news is stunning. We tested the drive with Panasonic media tested at six-speed.
This is the fastest media currently available, and you shouldn't be expecting full eight-speed media to be coming out for a while yet. The Buffalo BR-816FBS wrote 22GB of data in a time of 13 minutes 33 seconds - an astonishing 7 minutes 50 seconds faster than the current speed demon, the LG BE06LU10.
Even allowing for the fact that we didn't have six-speed media to test with the LG, this speed increase is impressive, and shows that the Buffalo BR-816FBS is easily the fastest Blu-ray Disc drive currently available.
It's possible that there may be better to come too, since we weren't totally convinced by the version 1.00 firmware supplied with the drive, and we needed over 42 minutes to write the 22GB of data to rewriteable two-speed BD-RE media - bizarrely almost half a minute slower than with the older Buffalo Buffalo BRHC-6316U2. It's possible that this may improve when a firmware upgrade is available. We certainly hope so since, for many users, BD-RE (rewritable) performance may be every bit as important as that of write-once BD-Rs.
Playback of Blu-Ray films was very good on this drive. It's worth pointing out that the CyberLink software features ‘smart non-linear stretching', which supposedly plays regular DVDs in near high-definition quality. We wouldn't go this far, but DVDs certainly looked more ravishing then usual.
Note: as of this writing (20 November 2008), the Buffalo BR-816FBS is not yet available in the UK, but we are assured it will be available soon.