Preview - Blu Ray Burner Pioneer BDR 101A

Blu Ray - Capacity for change? Pioneer BDR 101A

Blu Ray - What is it?

It seems everything in the media has to be "High Definition" these days, with more and more electronics getting the "HD ready" tag added to them. Today we're looking at one of the High Definition pretenders to DVD's media crown - Blu Ray.

Blu-Ray, along with HD-DVD is one of the flavours with which you can get your HD fix. It is an optical media format that is read by a blue laser - hence the name. This is in contrast to HD DVD which is read by an enhanced red laser diode, similar to that of it's namesake, DVD.

Blu-Ray was developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) formed by some big names in the industry (Sony, Apple, Dell, LG to name but a few).

The following HD codec types are supported:

MPEG-2 - enhanced for HD, also used for playback of DVDs and HDTV recordings.
MPEG-4 AVC - part of the MPEG-4 standard also known as H.264 (High Profile and Main Profile).
SMPTE VC-1 - standard based on Microsoft's Windows Media Video (WMV) technology.

That means that Blu Ray can support a wide range of resolutions such as 720p, 1080i and 1080p.

Blu-Ray is not just a playback mechanism however, it has huge potential for storage. With 25gb of data fitting on a single sided Blu-Ray disc and 50gb on a double sided disc, the media format has the potential to store a whole lot of data - 50gb is around 9 hours of High-Definition movies.

I won't go into the what's are wherefores of Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD but at the bottom of this article will be some really useful links to take a look at so you can decide yourself.

The Burner - BDR-101A

Blu-Ray is still in it's relative infancy, but Pioneer have kindly lent us one of the first internal BD Burners out there, the BDR-101A. This is aimed at early adopters and heavy data users in professional markets, rather than the home user as it currently only burns and reads from BD-R and BD-RE discs (the writeable and re-writeable media for Blu Ray).

Please note the below response from Pioneer about the Blu-Ray movie capabilities of the player:

The BDR-101A will playback BDMV discs (pressed BD-ROM / Hollywood movie discs). It's just that there is no commercially-available playback software for BDMV discs.

We expect CyberLink to officially release their PowerDVD (BD-edition) application soon.

Today we won't be able to take a look at this function, but we hope to in the near future.

However, it's great to take a look now at the new format and see what it offers on the data storage side of things.


Like most optical drives there's not much to the drive. It's beige with a Blu Ray logo on it.

pioneer BDR-101A

Notice that the burner also writes and burns DVD's and CD's, and is rated at 8X for DVD-R and +R, 4X for DVD-RW and +RW, 2.4X for double-layer DVD+R, and double-layer DVD-R discs at 2X speed. Buffering is 8MB for Blu-ray and a 2MB for DVDs.

pioneer bdr-101a

A rather spangly looking BDR

pioneer bdr 101a

The rear of the disk....Black!

pioneer bdr 101a

Apart from the (not included or currently supported) Blu Ray movie I've stuck in here for show, the drive comes with:

1 x BD R disc (writeable)
1 x BD RE disc (re-writeable)
1 x Copy Roxio DigitalMedia V7

And that's it. As I said earlier, this is aimed at early adopters and professional applications.


I used my test setup which is as follows:

Intel Core2Duo E6700 @ 3.3Ghz
Asus P5W Dh Deluxe
1gb Mushkin HP2 5300 (ruinning @ DDR800 4-4-4-10)
PioneerDVR111DB DVD-RW
OCZ Gamextreme 850w
1 x Hitachi 7K150
2 x Hitachi 7K80 in RAID 0

I set up some quick tests on the drive to see what you can do with it. First I made a random file of 22GB text and burned this to the drive. This took a pretty nice 43mins 58seconds. Writing this back to my RAID 0 hard drive took 24mins 46seconds, not too shabby. This works out at a reasonable 68Mbps, pretty close to what the drive is rated at (72mbps for 2X BD-R).

Taking this file from my RAID 0 drive to my internal Hitachi SATA300 drive took 11mins 48seconds.

I then decided to take an 18gb HD movie file from my RAID 0 drive and transfer it to the Blu Ray drive. This took 40minutes 58seconds, matching the speed in test 1 of 68mbps. This was slightly faster than those of other sites who reported 67mbps, but I did it a few times to test and it seems right.


The future for Blu Ray as a storage media seems to be pretty good with speeds rated very close to what the media is rated at and quite a bit more storage space on a dual layer Blu-Ray disk than a HD DVD disk, the technology is certainly there. Whether it gets steered in the right direction by the Blu-ray Disc Association is another thing of course.

The Pioneer BDR 101A is certainly not something your average user is likely to see in the near future with prices listed £513 @ SCAN for this simple internal drive with pretty frugal software package. Having said that if you need to write some uncompressed HD content to disc, or simply need convenient and high-capacity optical media storage then Blu Ray certainly does the job.

oc3d previewed


+ Large Storage capacity
+ Speeds At close to rated
+ Great for early adopters
+ Future playback of BD-ROM movie's


- Prohibitively expensive
- Uncertain future of Blu Ray
- A lot faster transfer over an external disc
- Lack of Movie playback at this time

Helpful Links

Blue-Ray facts @
Specs @
Blu-Ray @ Wikipedia
How Blu-Ray works @ How Stuff Works
Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD @ Engadget
Blu-Ray vs HD DVD @ CDFreaks

Thanks to Pioneer for providing the review sample

Discuss in our Forums
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Most Recent Comments

17-01-2007, 11:27:46

Cool preview Kemp, good work.Quote

17-01-2007, 12:03:07

Kemp, how are the files stored on the discs ? I mean as opposed to the regular DVD format of VIDEO_ folder with vital stuffs in it etc.

If it`s the same/similar, I don`t see why the resolutions are limited.Quote

17-01-2007, 13:17:02

Well I actually meant on movie discs mate rather than the burned versionsQuote

17-01-2007, 13:29:24

PP Mguire
You say lack of movies but arent their moveis in the stores that are blu-ray?Quote

17-01-2007, 13:31:40

Pardon? Of course there are movies. WTH are you on about?Quote

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