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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage

Thursday, June 04, 2009
Pioneer BDR-203BK

1. Features,specifications

The BDR-203BK is Pioneer's latest CD/DVD/BD media burner. This drive offers 8x recording for the latest 6x BD-R media, which means that you will be able to burn 25GB of data in less than 30 minutes. Compared to the previous generation of BD burners, this new drive is significantly faster and as such, it could be more attractive to consumers at a time where the Blu-ray format is making some steps forward to become the successor of the DVD.

Though the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has not yet released the specifications for BD-R recording at 8x, the drive is capable of burning at this speed with specific BD-Rs specified for 6x. However, even 6x BD-Rs (both single layer and dual layer) are currently very hard to find on the market today. TDK/Imation and Panasonic were the first companies to offer such discs, followed by Taiyo Yuden (available soon), Moser Baer India, ritek and Mitsubishi Kagaku Media (Verbatim brand, available in the summer).

Besides the limited availability of the 6x BDR discs, their price is also high for the end users. Let's hope that the situation will change in the following months as the media companies ramp up their production.

Let's now have a look at the Pioneer BDR-203BK drive. Basic features include 8x burning for both single layer and dual layer discs (BD-R SL and DL), using the Partial CAV recording mode. BD-RE are burned at 2x for both DL and SL as well as the new BD-R LTH Type discs.

The drive can be also used as a Blu-ray movie playback device, as soon as your PC's specifications meet some requirements and of course you have the right BD playback software.

The drive also maintains compatibility with DVD and CD discs for both read and write. Below you can see the table of specifications:

Quiet Operation

Most operational noise is generated from the air flow when the disc spins within the drive. Pioneer has redesigned the disc tray structure to control the flow of air and smooth its circulation within the drive. Several tunnel-like air intakes and ducts are placed around the disc tray to realize smoother air flow. The drive's insides have been smoothed, so as not to hinder air flow that can cause noise. Attention to such details allows for the drive's operational noise to be greatly reduced.

But even with attention to such detail, the disc spinning within the drive will create air flow noise. There are 3 areas from which air flow noise escapes from the drive’s front (Above, below, and from the bottom). The interlocking/overlapping design works like sound barrier to trap air flow noise. As a result, Pioneer claims that the drive is 3-5dB quieter than its previous model.

The drive also monitors how it is being used and will adjust its disc rotation speed automatically, meaning it will spin slowly/quietly for audio & movie playback, and quickly for data transfers.


The sound barrier design that traps noise inside also works as a barrier to keep dust outside. With the newly developed mechanism, the drive has achieved approximately four times superior dust durability over previous models .Placed under the same conditions, the DVR-116 outlasted the competition by five fold, making drive failure due to dust practically a non issue.

Particle level≒600cpm
Continuous write/read of media (JVC DVD-RW2-6x)
1cycle= 4x write, 8x read
PASS/FAIL criteria : Disc write/read with no errors
Discrepancy in FAIL time is due to what point on the disc
Became unreadable


Pioneer's performance enhancing features allow for high quality recording characteristics. Liquid Crystal Compensator provides accurate, reliable READ/WRITE performance with a variety of disc characteristics using its three capabilities:


If the disc is warped or its thickness is uneven, it cannot form a precise beam spot, preventing accurate writing. With Tilt Compensator it forms a beam spot that is uniform on both sides, achieving accurate writing.


Standard optical pickups optimize writing to single layer disc. therefore it causes spherical aberrations when attempting to write double layer disc. The Liquid Crystal Compensator makes it possible to focus light to a pinpoint regardless of the disc's single or double layer structure, avoiding spherical aberration, allowing for accurate writing.


Corrects other issues which cause misalignments of the beam spot. The Liquid Crystal compensator is an ideal solution for irregularly curved, thin/thick and double layer discs.

Precision Writing Disc Stabilizer

High speed disc rotation causes disc warping due to disc resonant vibration, which result in unstable writing quality especially in outer area of a disc. With the newly designed top chassis, air flow caused by the high speed rotation is utilized to press the disc surface, which prevents three type of resonant vibrations and stabilize the high speed writing and reading.

Environmental Consideration

Eco Bezel

Pioneer has employed the botanical materials with higher percentage from previous drive models. Entire front panel is made of botanical based plastic materials considering environmental factors.

For easier material recycling

Elastic hot plastic materials to inject on a cold drive metal body, this is conventional production methods widely spread in the industry. Though this production method is having disadvantage from the aspect of material recycling because plastics and metals are unified which makes to hard to lip off while in recycling process. Pioneer has employed more environmental friendly production method by paying attention for easier material removal process in mind. Light weight and elaborate package designs are reflected on the drive considering less impact on our environmental aspects.


The drive can be purchased online for approximately $300. The retail package is complete and includes a software package for Blu-ray play back, as well as connection cables and user guides.

In the box you find the following:

  • Screws (x 4)
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Product Information
  • Software Disc (PowerDVD, Power2Go, PowerProducer, PowerDirector, PowerDVD Copy, PowerBackup)
  • Serial ATA Cable (500 mm / 19 in)
  • Serial ATA Power Adapter (4 pin to 15 pin)
  • Warranty Card
  • Tray Cover Replacement Guide
  • Tray Cover Replacement Kit

The rear panel is typical and has a power and SATA interfaces.

Let's take a look at the drive's internal board. It is recommended not to open the case of your drive since that would void the warranty.

You can click on each picture for a larger view:

The drive's electronics is based on the Renesas R8J32710TF chipset.

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