First Look: First Blu-ray Burner Lives Up to the Hype

Melissa J. Perenson, PC World blu-rayPC World tests show that the Pioneer BDR-101A drive's performance and capacity are impressive. Blu-ray is finally here, with Pioneer Electronics' BDR-101A leading the way. This drive is the first burner for PCs that records to Blu-ray Disc. The $1000 model may be light on software and extras, but its appeal is undeniable: In PC World tests, we were able to pack nearly 25GB on a single write-once disc, and in about 45 minutes--less time than it takes to drive from San Francisco to nearby San Jose. Pioneer Electronics' BDR-101A with mediaThe drive has a single-lens optical pickup with two lasers: a blue laser capable of reading and writing to Blu-ray Disc (BD) and a red laser for reading and writing to DVD media. However, as the first Blu-ray burner to market, the BDR-101A sacrifices a few format details in favor of being here now. Though it supports BD and DVD media, it does not read or write to CDs. It also does not write to dual-layer 50GB BD media. Blu-ray Disc is one of two competing formats battling to replace conventional DVDs. The format is based on blue laser technology and offers several times the storage capacity of current DVDs. Blu-ray stores 25GB on a single-layer disc and uses a new disc structure that puts the recording layer much closer to the laser. The competing but incompatible format--HD-DVD--stores a little less: 15GB of data on a single-layer disc. HD-DVD has a disc structure similar to that of DVDs. No HD-DVD burners have yet been announced. read more...

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