Pioneer First to Market with Blu-ray XL Recorder

By · Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Pioneer BD-XL DriveOne of the exciting things about the Blu-ray format (beyond the amazing picture and sound quality) is the fact that it is changing and growing. Earlier this year, we reported on the Blu-ray Disc Association’s approval of a new specification called Blu-ray XL. In July, we blogged about Sharp introducing the first 100GB Blu-ray XL recordable discs to the market. Now, Pioneer is the first manufacturer to begin shipping a BD-XL recorder drive.

Pioneer’s official name for the drive is the BDR-206MBK, but to you and me it is simply the “Wow! drive.” Wow because it is the first optical drive that can record on BD-XL discs with up to 4 separate layers for a total of 128GB per disc. Wow because it also reads and writes CD, DVD, and regular Blu-ray discs. Finally, wow because of the price tag.

Let’s take a closer look at the BDR-206MBK to find out what makes it worthy of so many superlatives. First, it can read and write Blu-ray XL discs in both three-layer (100GB) and four-layer (128GB) varieties. To put that in perspective, a single Blu-ray XL 128GB disc will hold as much information as twenty-seven regular DVD-R discs! That is an incredible amount of storage for one disc.

Although you may not need that much storage space today, you probably will in the future. As today’s electronic gadgets take increasingly larger photos and HD videos, you would be surprised at how fast the space can be used up. When archiving mountains of personal data such as emails, photos, videos, and music libraries, the convenience of putting everything on a single disc is wonderful.

Video editors, sound engineers, photographers, and other professionals in the multimedia industry know that there is no such thing as “too much free space.” Hard drive space is precious and best reserved for active projects. Completed projects and their original files can safely be backed up on these extra large Blu-ray discs for future use.

But there’s more to this drive than its impressive storage capacity. It also comes with a free 100GB BD-XL disc and a software suite provided by CyberLink, makers of the popular PowerDVD player software. The whole package of the drive, blank disc, and software is priced at $199 dollars. That’s a lot of dough for one a single drive, but then you do get a whole lot of functionality for the price.

While Pioneer is not the first to produce a BD-XL burner, they are the first to bring one to the consumer market. That is pretty remarkable when you consider that the BD-XL format was just finalized eight months ago. It won’t be long now before these drives start appearing in Blu-ray duplicators, recorders, and other devices.

Pioneer has announced that it has begun shipping the BDR-206MBK drive to retailers such as Fry’s Electronics. We hope that other manufacturers besides Sharp will step up to produce more types of recordable Blu-ray media for this new drive. We’ll keep you posted about future developments in the Blu-ray XL saga as they happen.


Finally! Just as I upgraded to 3D Blu-ray… I get to upgrade my blu-ray player yet again for larger formats. Please, movie industry, don’t adopt yet another standard for another 10 years.