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Appeared on: Thursday, November 15, 2007
Pioneer BDR-202


1. Introduction

Pioneer was one of the first manufacturers to introduce the Blu-ray burning technology. Now Pioneer returns with its second generation Blu-Ray burning drive, the BDR-202 multi-burner. The drive supports up to 12X DVD+/-R media burning, up to 6X for DVD+/-RW, up to 4X for DVD+/-R DL, up to 24X for CDR/RW, up to 4X for BD-R and up to 2X for BDRE. It does not support BDR-DL (50GB) burning though, which was also the case with its predecessor, the BDR-101A.

- Drive Features & Specification

The drive is available in both black and white and uses the SATA 1.0 interface.

Let's take a look at the internal components of the drive. Note that opening the drive case voids the warranty and should be avoided.

Click For Larger Image

The drive uses the RENESAS R8J32500FPV chip, also found in the Pioneer BDC-202 BD-ROM drive.

- Nero Info Tool

- DVD Info Pro


2. CD - DVD Reading

For our CD transfer rate tests, we used the Nero CD-Speed utility and a set of data and audio CD-R/RW/ROM media. The drive can read CD media at a maximum speed of 32X.

For each CDSpeed graph, you can click on the image to see the complete screenshot, including full measurements.

-CD-ROM

- US RW

The following CD Speed graph shows the reading performance with US-RW media. Reading reached a maximum of 24x, as per the specifications.

 

- AudioCD

In the CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test, the drive's average speed was 23,13X with a quality score of 100.

- 90/99 mins Audio disc

90 min Audio

99min Audio

DVD Format

Now let's take a look at how the drive performs with DVD media. This time, a set of SL and DL DVD media was used. The drive is capable of reading at 12X maximum speed with single layer DVD ROM and at 8X with dual layer DVD ROM media.

DVD-ROM SL

DVD-ROM DL

PTP DVD-ROM

The two layers of a PTP DVD-ROM disc are read sequentially with the drive starting reading from the inner part of the disc, which is the beginning of each layer, progressing towards its outer range.

OTP DVD-ROM

The first layer of an OTP dual layer DVD-ROM is read exactly the same way as the first layer of the PTP disc we tested previously. The difference here is the reading strategy of the second layer of the disc. The beginning of the second layer is located in the outer part of the disc, so the drive starts reading from the outer tracks and progresses towards the inner part of the disc.

 

DVD-R

 

DVD-RW

DVD+R

 

DVD+RW

 

DVD+R DL

DVD-R DL

 

DVD RAM (2-5x media)

DVD Video Ripping

A DVD-Video SL movie was ripped to the hard disk for this test. The drive's performance is given below:

Average Read Rate: 5,231 KB/s (3,8x)

Maximum Read Rate: 7,410 KB/s (5,4x)

Blu-Ray

BD-R SL (25GB)

BD-R DL (50GB)

Unfortunately, the drive could not read our 50GB TDK BD-R disc with data. The specific disc had been recorded with another Blu-Ray disc drive and was readable with the Philips, LiteOn and LG BD burners. The behavior was expected since the drive does not support reading of BD-R DL media.

BD-RE SL (25GB)

BD-ROM SL (25GB)

- Summary of reading tests

All of the reading graphs are as steady and smooth. The drive failed to completely read the 90min and 99min audio CDs though, while it did not manage to read our BD-R DL disc.

Notice that the reported seek times in all the reading tests is obviously not correct, possibly due to a bug or incompatibility in the CDSpeed software.


3. CD Error Correction

In the following tests, we check the drive's behavior and error correction capabilities when reading scratched / defective audio discs. The test discs used were the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

 

Errors total
Num : 1840143
Errors (Loudness)
102608
(-75.8A)db
Max :-19.4 dB(A)
Error Muting
Num : 5530
Avg : 1.2 Samples
Max : 582 Samples
Skips
Num : 0
Avg : 0.0 Samples
Max : 0 Samples
Total Test Result
75.3 points (of 100.0 maximum)

A relatively good score from the Pioneer drive. There were no skipped samples, and some Errors Loudness spikes, with a maximum of -19.2 dB(A), which is high. However, the average error level is low.

- ABEX TCD-726R

Errors total
Num : 6830
Errors (Loudness)
Num : 3271
Avg : -87.5 dB(A)
Max : -53.4 dB(A)
Error Muting
Num : 34
Avg : 1.0 Samples
Max : 1 Samples
Skips
Num : 0
Avg : 0.0 Samples
Max : 0 Samples
Total Test Result
83.9 points (of 100.0 maximum)

This is an average performance. The drive should be better here. Some errors were reported but no skipped samples.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is another tool for evaluating the Sound Reproduction / Error correction capabilities of a CD player. The disc offers a signal combination with disc error patterns to rate the drive's abilities to read music and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a sequence of progressively more difficult tests. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced through a software multimedia player (e.g. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested drive.

Error Level
1
2
3
4
5
Pioneer BDC 202
5/5
5/5
5/5
0/5
0/5

The drive managed to correctly play the first three tracks. Problems occurred with the fourth and fifth tracks. Average behavior here. Overall, the drive exhibited average performance with our defective test discs.


4. DVD Error Correction

In the following tests, we examine the DVD reading capabilities of the drive (error correction) with scratched / defective DVD media. For the tests, we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed. The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, and its surface has an artificial scratch of dimensions varying from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

The following transfer rate picture comes from the CDVD Benchmark v1.21 transfer rate test.

 

Reading speed begins at 4X and jumps to 6X while at the beginning of the artificial defects area on this media. Relatively good behaviour. No read errors were reported here.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM of 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as that of the TDR-821, with the difference that there are no scratches on it but instead, defective areas of dimensions ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 mm. There are also fingerprints sized between 65 and 75 micrometers.

 

Very steady and stable reading of the ABEX TDR-825 single layered media.

- Dual Layer media

ABEX TDR-841

This is an 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches of dimensions ranging from 0.4 to 3.0mm, on both layers.

Pretty good performance with the dual layer disc here too.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the first includes defective areas and fingerprints.

Flawless reading. A great performance with dual layered media.

ABEX TDV-541

The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB.The disc is based upon the TDV-540 series which is designed for inspection and adjustment of DVD-VIDEO players. The disc checks the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also includes test pictures and test signals for DVD sound files.

 

Flawless reading here too.

ABEX TDV-545

The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc with a capacity of 8.5GB.The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the data surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It also has 65 - 75 micrometer fingerprints.

 

The defects on both the ABEX TDV-545 & ABEX TDV-541 were easily overcome by the drive, giving a very smooth reading graph. In general, excellent error correction with DVD media.


5. Ritek CDR

For this test (and for all ensuing tests with CD-R media), the CD-R disc was burned to its maximum capacity and at its maximum speed. Then, the same disc is read with the CDSpeed software, and then scanned for digital errors (BLER, C1 and C2) with our system provided by Clover Systems. To simplify the presentation, we present the BLER, E31 and E32 error rates for each disc, which unveil the most serious errors on each disc.

-Disc Info

- Writing - 16-24x (20.76x average) in 04:49min

- Reading - 34x (25.48x average)

 

 

- Writing Quality - Clover Systems

E12 flag has exceeded its limits a bit. Nothing to worry about, here. Uncorrectable errors are within limits.

- About Clover Systems

The Clover Systems CDX Compact Disc Analyzer is a tool to quantitatively measure the quality of a CD. It will analyze CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-I, CD-R, Photo-CD, Enhanced CD and CD-RW discs at 4X, 8X, 24X, 32X or 40X speed. It effectively measures disc quality by examining the quantity and severity of CIRC errors generated during playback. It also provides the capability to measure signal parameters related to pit geometry, such as asymmetry and reflectivity. Together, all these bits of information provide a thorough analysis of disc quality. The Clover Systems Analyzers can also perform various format-checking tests on data discs, and do bit-for-bit data comparison on all types of CDs. All tests are carried out at the speed of 4X.

CIRC error correction uses two principles to detect and correct errors. The first is redundancy (extra information is added, which gives an extra chance to read the disc), and the second is interleaving (data is distributed over a relatively large physical area). The CIRC error correction used in CD players uses two stages of error correction, the well known C1 and C2, with de-interleaving of the data between the stages.

The error type E11 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C1 stage. E21means two bad symbols were corrected in the C1 stage. E31 means that there were three or more bad symbols at the C1 stage. This block is uncorrectable at the C1 stage, and is passed to the C2 stage. Respectively, E12 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C2 stage and E22 means two bad symbols were corrected in the C2 stage. E32 means that there were three or more bad symbols in one block at the C2 stage, and therefore this error is not correctable.

BLER (Block Error Rate) is defined as the number of data blocks per second that contain detectable errors, at the input of the C1 decoder. Since this is the most general measurement of the quality of a disc, you will find BLER graphs for all media tested below. If you click on the images you can see a more detailed table, indicating error levels. The Red Book specification (IEC 908) calls for a maximum BLER of 220 per second averaged over ten seconds. Discs with higher BLER are likely to produce uncorrectable errors. Al low BLER shows that the system as a whole is performing well, and the pit geometry is good. However, BLER only tells us how many errors were generated per second, and it does not tell us anything about the severity of those errors.


6. Taiyo Yuden CD-R

-Disc Info

- Writing - 24x (20.85x average) in 04:44min

- Reading - 34x (25.59x average)

- Writing Quality - Clover Systems

Absolutely flawless! Way to go for the Pioneer drive that seems to make a perfect combination with Taiyo Yuden CD-R media.


7. Verbatim CDR

-Disc Info

- Writing strategy - 24x (20.80x average)

- Reading - 34x (25.58x average)

- Writing Quality - Clover Systems

There are errors here but not uncorrectable ones.


8. Verbatim CDRW

-Disc Info

- Writing strategy - 24x (21.97x average)

- Reading - 26x (19.14x average)

 

- Writing Quality - Clover Systems

What we've got here is the first bad burn with CD-R media from Pioneer's BDR-202 drive. Many errors, both correctable and uncorrectable with the E32 flag to the top of the list.


9. DaTARIUS DVD Analyzer R 2x
The DaTARIUS DVD Analyzer R 2x is one of the cornerstones in DVD quality control equipment, and is truly unique in the industry. It allows checking of replicated DVDs with single and dual layer structure (DVD-5, DVD-9, DVD-10, DVD-14, DVD-18) and written DVD recordable, at 1X and 2X speed. It is based on the Pulstec Reference Pickup and Drive, developed in close co-operation with Pulstec and according to the standards of the DVD Forum.

In short, the device's features include:

An explanation of the various parameters the DaTARIUS DVD Analyzer R 2x offers is available here. At the same page, you can read more details about the error signals and a brief analysis the possible meaning of its parameter in the overall quality of each burn.

In the following pages, we present the writing quality measurements of various DVD recordable and rewritable media, burned with the Pioneer BDR-202 BD-ROM reader / DVD/CD burner.


10. CMC MAG AE1

- Media Info

- Writing - 8x (7.68x average) in 08:09min

- Reading - failed

Reading session stops unexpectedly with the message "UNCORRECTABLE ERROR". The Datarius system will probably produce a similar error.

DaTARIUS Scans -

As predicted, the measurement stops at around 2 thirds of the way on the media's surface. An extraordinarily high count for the PISum8 flag and a dozen of POFs too. We're dealing with some seriously bad burning here.


11. MCC 03RG20

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.51x average) in 07:05min

 

- Reading - 12X (9.48X average)

 

DaTARIUS Scans -

Code red for the POF flag where the burning speed increases from 8X to 12X. Otherwise typical results.


12. OPTODISC R016

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.49x average) in 07:06min

- Reading - 12X (9.47X average)

 

DaTARIUS Scans -

Few digital errors. Although the disc was readable, it is another worry for the BDR-202 drive though.


13. ProdiscF02

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.50x average) in 07:07min

 

- Reading - 12X (9.47X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

One more not so good burn from the BDR-202 drive. Digital errors were reported near the end of the scanning.


14. ProdiscS05

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.51x average) in 07:05min

 

- Reading - 12X (9.47X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Some seriously bad burning again, due mostly to the high amount of PISum8. A few other "red" flags too. Bad result.


15. TYG02

- Media Info

- Writing - 8x (7.68x average) in 08:09min

- Reading - 12X (9.48X average)

 

DaTARIUS Scans -

A lot of POF errors near the end of the scanning session, where the Running OPC was very active (slight ups and downs in the burning speed occur more frequently). A small un-scanned area too.


16. MKM 03RD30

- Media Info

- Writing - 4x (3.95x average) in 27:42min

 

- Reading - 8X (6.33X average)

 

DaTARIUS Scans -

Layer0

Layer1

POF flag exceeds limits on both layers with the specific dual layer media.


17. MKM 01RW6X01

- Media Info

- Writing - 6x (6.02x average) in 10:14min

 

 

- Reading - 8X (6.31X average)

Disc Quality - ALChecker

An uncorrectable error was reported with this -RW media.


18. DAXON AZ3

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.47x average) in 07:20min

 

- Reading - 12X (9.45X average)

 

DaTARIUS Scans -

One more media with digital errors. The strange part is that the Pioneer drive just fails to achieve "green" results, showing only a few errors on most of the scanning test results.


19. MCC 004 (000)

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.49x average) in 07:14min

 

- Reading - 12X (9.48X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

Digital errors exceed their limits by a good deal where the burning speed reaches 12x. This is the exactly the same behavior as with the TYG02 DVD-R media.


20. Philips C08 000

- Media Info

- Writing - 8x (7.68x average) in 08:19min

 

 

- Reading - 12X (9.50X average)

 

DaTARIUS Scans -

Large amount of PISum8 and POF errors here too.


21. PRODISC R04

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.48x average) in 07:19min

 

 

- Reading - 12X (9.48X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

This is pretty close to decent burning, but the one and only POF error prevents the Pioneer drive from achieving a flawless result.


22. PRODISC R05

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.49x average) in 07:15min

 

- Reading - 12X (9.48X average)

 

DaTARIUS Scans -

A single digital error here too.


23. RICOHJPN R03 (004)

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.48x average) in 07:20min

 

- Reading - 12X (9.48X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

One more scan from the Datarius scanning engine that produces with a large amount of digital errors. Pretty bad burning.


24. YUDEN000 T03

- Media Info

- Writing - 12x (9.49x average) in 07:16min

- Reading - 12X (9.47X average)

DaTARIUS Scans -

One more failure with a single digital error, somewhere near the end of the scanning session. This finally seems to be the normal behaviour for the Pioneer drive's burning sessions.


25. MKM 003 000

- Media Info

- Writing - 4x (3.97x average) in 27:03min

 

- Reading - 8X (6.34X average)

 

DaTARIUS Scans -

Layer 0

What we have here is a high amount of digital errors, as usual. But let's have a look at the second layer on the specific media.

Layer 0

A flawless result. That's really difficult to believe, considering all the "reds" in the first layer. Overall, the test is considered as a failure though.


26. MKM A03

- Media Info

- Writing - 6x (6.02x average) in 10:22min

- Reading - 8X (6.33X average)

Disc Quality - ALChecker

PI errors exceeded the 280 limit on this +RW disc.


27. MXL 16

- Media Info

- Writing - 5x (4.99x average) in 11:04min

- Reading - 5X


28. TDKBLDRBA (000)

- Disc Info

- Writing - 4x (4.00x average) in 23:04min

- Reading - 5X (3.93X average)

 


29. VERBATIMa (000)

- Media Info

- Writing - 4x (4.00x average) in 23:03min

- Reading - 5X (3.93X average)

 


30. TDKBLDWBA (000)

- Disc Info

- Writing - 2x (2.01x average) in 45:17min

 

- Reading - 5X (3.93X average)

 


31. VERBATIM0 (000)

- Disc Info

- Writing - 2x (2.01x average) in 46:30min

 

- Reading - 5X (3.93X average)

 


32. Playback Tests

We performed playback tests with the BDR-202 drive, using a Blu-ray title ("Open Season").

The Open Season (Sony) BD-ROM disc (BD 25) specs boast a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC video transfer and uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track.

The tests were performed on an AMD Athlon, 3.0 GHz system, with an ASUS EN8800 graphics card, using Cyberlink's PowerDVD software.

The Blu Ray disc performed satisfactorily with the system - graphics card combination mentioned above.

33. Booktype and Overburning

We considered that including the table that we usually create showing the passed and not passed scanning tests, as not important here, since we're dealing with a 100% failure. This doesn't mean that the BDR-202 drive is incapable of achieving decent burning, since most of the failures happened because of in the main, a single or a couple of digital errors. Very few were the cases of a total failure. Visit the corresponding pages for more info on this pretty strange outcome.

- Booktype Settings

 

 

The drive does not support the booktype feature, with DVD+R, DVD+R DL or DVD+RW media.

- DVD Overburning

 

As we can see, the drive does not support overburning of DVD recordable media, according to CDSpeed.


34. Conclusion

The Pioneer BDR-202 puts us in a pretty awkward position with its somewhat good-somewhat bad results. There was very good performance in the CD reading and DVD Error correction tests, and average in the CD Error Correction tests.

The real problems occurred in the burnings. The worst thing was the fact that, digital errors occurred on every single scanning test that we performed on media burned with the BDR-202 drive. In most cases, the digital error limits were slightly exceeded, with only 1 or 2 POFs. This doesn't change the fact that digital errors exist though. This of course, might not affect the reading procedure of media burned with the specific drive, but it was a major characteristic and bears mentioning in this conclusion page. Frankly, we expected better performance from a drive that burns DVD recordable media at a maximum speed of 12x.

Writing quality with CD-R media is very good, while the corresponding measurements with CD-RW discs showed that there is room for improvement.

The fact that the BDR-202 drive does burn Blu-Ray media at 4x, is what we'd call an advantage, since it keeps the price down to earth, compared with many other Blu-ray burners. Compatibility with the majority of the available BD-R/RE media is good, and the recorded Blu-ray discs were readable with all the Blu-ray drives we tested. On the other hand, the lack of reading support for BD-R DL media (not BD-ROM) could be considered as a minus.

E-shops price the drive at somewhere around the US$600 mark, which is still pretty high for the average user. It's also a long way from the top of the Blu-ray burning technology tree, which could have made it an attractive buy for the price, but we already knew that. Pioneer's second generation Blu-Ray burner missed out on an overall good rating due to the number of specific issues left open.



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