The first external Ultra HD Blu-ray drive is coming... to Japan

Phenomenal high-quality playback! Itty bitty drive size!

The Japanese digital entertainment company Pioneer is living up to its name by releasing the first external Ultra HD Blu-ray drive in Japan next month. 

After announcing its internal BDR-S11J SATA drives that officially support playback of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, the company is moving its Blu-ray technology into something a little more portable with the BDR-XD06J-UHD.

The USB 3.0-powered external drive weighs only 230 grams (around the weight of two iPhone 5Ss for context) and will support playback of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs using a special version of Cyberlink’s Power DVD 14 software.

Complex playback

As simple and compact as the player is, though, there are certain requirements that have to be met to watch the 4K content it can play on your PC. You’ll need a Windows 10 PC running on an Intel 7th generation Core i7 / i5 processor and at least 6GB of RAM.

It’ll require at the very least an Intel HD Graphics 630 along with a motherboard based on the Intel 200 series chipset with support for HDCP 2.2 / HDMI 2.0a video output. 

Don’t forget you’ll also need an HDMI 2.0a-equipped 4K monitor to go with it.

This seems like a large number of requirements to contend with so to help any confused UHD fans, Pioneer has a UHDBD advisory tool which will check whether your PC is compatible with UHD BD playback.

When it’s launched in Japan later this month it’s expected to cost no more than 15000 yen (around $134/£107/AU $172). Considering full-sized UHD players can sell for several hundred dollars this seems like a reasonable price for the convenience that a portable drive would offer. 

It's not clear just yet when or if the drive will be released in markets other than Japan.

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Emma is TechRadar's staff writer covering the latest technology news. She loves nothing more than being unnervingly enthusiastic about gaming, VR, AI, and acronyms.