We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Storage Devices Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Pioneer BDR-203BK review

Approx £220 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Pioneer

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Pioneer's latest internal Blu-ray drive, the Pioneer BDR-203BK, is ahead of media technology, promising eight-speed BD-R writing.

Pioneer's latest internal Blu-ray drive, the Pioneer BDR-203BK, is ahead of media technology, promising eight-speed BD-R writing.

With months having passed since the appearance of a new Blu-ray Disc writer previous to the Pioneer BDR-203BK, you could be forgiven for believing that the race to popularise the surviving HD format had rather trailed off. Indeed, the Blu-ray market is having trouble even getting media onto the market that's sufficiently fast to make the most of the existing drives.

The last BD drive we reviewed before the Pioneer BDR-203BK was the Buffalo BR-816FBS, when we were able to use Panasonic six-speed media (itself too slow to get the maximum from that drive's eight-speed write-once BD-R claimed facilities).

Four months on, we still find it almost impossible to replicate those results, since the UK market remains effectively restricted to quad-speed BD-R media. This new Pioneer BDR-203BK drive is, again, an eight-speed rated model. And this time, the only test media available was TDK, rated at four- (rather than six-) speed, which makes it difficult to assess the Pioneer's future performance.

For the time being, it's worth noting that the Pioneer BDR-203BK's eight-speed mode took just under four minutes longer than the Buffalo to complete the BD-R tests.

The Pioneer BDR-203BK doesn't fare as well as the Buffalo but, had there been six-speed media available with which to put the Pioneer BDR-203BK through its paces, we reckon this drive may have been the fastest we've seen yet. When even six-speed media does become widely available in the UK, we hope to retest this drive and issue updated figures.

Visit Digital World for the latest home entertainment and digital audio news and reviews

The Pioneer BDR-203BK's rewriteable BD-RE times (the drive supports a maximum here of two-speed) are decent and, while the Buffalo took half a minute longer than the competition, the Pioneer BDR-203BK is more in line with those other drives.

Otherwise, the Pioneer BDR-203BK is very similar to the Buffalo - with some subtle differences. The drive can read double-layer BD-R media at a rate of six-speed rather than 4.8-speed in the case of the Buffalo, for example.

At the other end of the scale, the Pioneer BDR-203BK's CD writing and reading capabilities are slightly slower than those of the Buffalo. The differences are fairly small, and we suspect few of those buying a Blu-ray drive will pay much attention to its CD facilities.

This Pioneer BDR-203BK SATA drive isn't the fastest to set up, although that's mostly down to the time to install the CyberLink software. This is fast becoming the most popular suite for new Blu-ray writers (quickly usurping the previous favourite from the Nero family), and with good reason. Its strong cohesion and reliable performance makes the CyberLink bundle a joy to use.

NEXT PAGE: Our verdict >>

Pioneer BDR-203BK Expert Verdict »

SATA Blu-ray Disc rewriter
max read speeds 8x/6x (BD-ROM/-ROM DL)
max Blu-ray write speeds 8x/8x/2x/2x (BD-R/-R DL/-RE/-RE DL)
max DVD speeds 16x/16x/8x/8x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
max CD speeds 32x/24x/40x (CD-R/-RW/-ROM)
max storage capacity 50GB
CyberLink Software Suite
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 9 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 6 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Assessing the true capabilities of the Pioneer BDR-203BK was somewhat difficult. We couldn’t push its BD-R facilities to rated specification, and at present we can’t even be sure of its retail price, although we expect it to be around £220, in line with the eight-speed Buffalo BR-816FBS.

  • Sony BWU-300S review

    Sony BWU-300S

    Blu-ray Disc drives that can create BD media remain thin on the ground. The Buffalo BR-816SU2, and now this internal Sony BWU-300S, are the only burnable Blu-ray drives to have been released in the UK since early Spring.

  • Plextor PX-B940SA review

    Plextor PX-B940SA

    Blu-ray may still not be as popular as DVD, but if you want the fastest way to make your own discs, look no further than the Plextor PX-B940SA, an internal SATA Blu-ray Disc burner.

  • LaCie d2 Blu-ray Professional review

    LaCie d2 Blu-ray Professional

    The LaCie d2 Blu-ray Professional BD-R, BD-RE Drive is an external optical drive that can burn data to Blu-ray discs, as well as single and dual-layer DVD and CD media.

  • Lite-On iHES208 review

    Lite-On iHES208

    An eight-speed Blu-Ray Combo Drive, the Lite-On iHES208 will make a good value purchase for those who want an HD disc drive.

  • LG BH10LS30 review

    LG BH10LS30

    The LG BH10LS30 is a Blu-ray Disc drive whose combination of modest price and rapic performance heralds a bright future for Blu-ray products.

IDG UK Sites

Best camera phone of 2015: iPhone 6 Plus vs LG G4 vs Galaxy S6 vs One M9 vs Nexus 6

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 of price of Retina iMac with new model