Pioneer BDR-203 review

Back up your HDD using Blu-ray magic

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Our Verdict

It may be a bit of a niche market, but with good write speeds and good capacity this is not the worst option in the world. Oh, and you can watch Blu-rays on your PC


  • Good write speed
  • Good capacity available on Blu-ray discs
  • Can watch Blu-rays on your PC


  • Possibly a dying breed with cheaper storage available

Ten years ago, I purchased a DVD-playing, CD-writing combo drive for £200. It was rubbish. It took years to burn a CD that would play about four times before skipping more than a schoolgirl boxer, and it would only play about one in ten of the DVDs I owned.

Now, I'm presented with much the same thing, only this time it's a Blu-ray burner. Thing is, in the interim we've encountered a little something called convergence. With 250GB portable hard drives, costing less than a third of the price, and having five times the amount of storage, it does seem that Blu-ray burners are a dying breed.

Pioneer's effort will write 19GB of files to a two-speed rewritable Blu-Ray disc in a mere two and a half hours, which gives you something to do between watching paint dry and waiting for Godot. A writable Blu-ray disc fared better, cutting that down to 12 minutes, which is rather impressive.

There are a couple of uses for Blu-ray discs; they're good for archiving files, and handy if you want to burn hi-def videos to show on Blu-ray players. But, in the latter case, most Blu-ray players (ie. PS3s) accept a USB, so you can easily connect your cheapo USB hard disks crammed full of hi-def lovin'.

If you're sure you need a Blu-ray burner, then the BDR-203 is the best, and cheapest option. It's just a shame that there's a sense that the tech is already obsolete.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeBlu-ray Writer
Optical Media SupportedBD-R/RE
Compatible Drive Bay Width5.25"
Compatible Drive Bay Height1/2H
Media Layer SupportedDouble-layer
Brand NamePioneer
Form FactorInternal
Maximum DVD Write Speed16x
Maximum DVD Rewrite Speed8x
Maximum DVD Read Speed16x
Maximum CD Write Speed32x
Maximum CD Rewrite Speed24x
Maximum CD Read Speed40x
Maximum BD Write Speed8x
Maximum BD Rewrite Speed2x
Maximum BD Read Speed8x
Height42.3 mm
Width148 mm
Depth180 mm
ManufacturerPioneer Corporation
Product ModelBDR-203BK
Product NameBDR-203BK 8x Blu-ray Drive
Package TypeBulk
Manufacturer Part NumberBDR-203BK-SW
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

The BDR-203BK is our first Blu-ray writer to achieve write speeds of 8x on Single Layer (25GB SL) and Dual Layer (50GB DL) BD-R discs.

Weight (Approximate)820 g