Ultrabooks are the new ‘cool’ thing in laptops in a while. They are light, have a long battery life and will fit into a briefcase or handbag with ease. The only problem with these shiny new laptops is that manufacturers have to sacrifice on ports available to the consumer. For example, the Samsung 15″ Ultrabook that we will be reviewing shortly (Link to Review coming soon!) is great! But it has its limitations, it only has 3 USB ports, no optical (DVD/Blu-Ray) drive and slightly less performance (although the new Intel Core i7 chip-sets works like a charm) than its bigger laptop counterparts.
This is where external optical drives like the Pioneer BDR-XD04/T come handy. These are external optical drives which you can plug into a usb port on your laptop/netbook/ultrabook when no drive is available or your current drive is either dead or does not have blu-ray support. The only downside, you will have to carry it around if you need to always have a cd/dvd/blu-ray reading/writing capability. The upside? The Pioneer BDR-XD04/T is one of the smallest and lightest external blu-ray writers on the market at the moment. Weighing in at just 240g or 8.5oz (excluding cables), it is very light and shouldn’t add much weight to your backpack. Its external dimensions are 14mm by 132mm by 132mm or 0.55″ X 5.2″ X 5.2″ (HxWxD) .
The drive looks very sleek, comes in black and is a clam shell design (as opposed to a slot loading or tray design). There are no many buttons, just the open button on the bottom left of the drive and a manual release latch on the underside. The max write speed of the drive is 6X for BD-R, 4X for Quad layer discs while BR-RE will write at 2X. Pioneer have also included support for the BDXL format, which can support upto 128gb of data on a single Blu-ray disc. Although this format is not widely accepted at this stage, Pioneer have stepped outside the box and made this drive more compatible for the future.
The BDR-XD04/T uses the USB 2.0 standard. With this, it can maintain its 6x max write speeds with no problem. Some laptops (with ports that have less or are unpowered) will require the Pioneer drive to be plugged into two spare USB 2.0 slots. I believe it can be used with USB, but write/read speeds and quality of the burn might be affected. We managed to run the drive no problems with the main USB (single) in a powered USB2.0 slot. We have not tested writing anything on this single port, but see no problems.
Here are some pictures of the Pioneer BDR-XD04 external Blu-ray drive:
The drive itself is not that loud and it also comes with Pioneers PowerRead technology which skips scratches and fingerprints etc.. which reduces the amount of noise the drive would normally make when encountering these sections on the disc. Another technology used on these drives is Pioneer’s PureRead2, which will adjust the settings of audio playback to remove any pop and clicks during playback of audio discs. The Pioneer BDR-XD04 comes with the Cyberlink Media Suite 8 (for Blu-ray) which includes, Power DVD 10 BD3D (for 3D playback), Power2Go 7 (for re-writeable media) and PowerDirector 9 (for editing and creating DVD & Blu-ray movie discs).
The Pioneer BDR-XD04 external Blu-ray writer retails for AU$229/US$149.99.You can get the drive from Amazon for US$125 (+$6.95 delivery) – I believe they will deliver this to Australia. While in Australia, MSY sells this drive for AU$158. Another thing to note is the different model names for the US (BDR-XD04) and Australia (BDR-XD04T) which we believe have no difference in specifications. If anyone knows, let us know!
The Pioneer BDR-XD04 is quiet, sleek, compact and reasonably affordable for what it offers. We recommend you get one if you need a ultraportable Blu-ray writer to go along with your shiny new Ultrabook.
– Random Reviews Team –