Icrontic and travel tech go hand in hand. The events the community host span throughout the year, demanding the most from our mobile workstations. So when Pioneer asked us to take a look at their newest slim Blu-ray burner, the BDR-XD04, we jumped at the opportunity.
The drive is the newest in their long line of options for portable slimline readers/writers. As Ultrabooks and laptops continue to shave the weight off their devices in the push for cloud computing, the need for external options continues to grow for those with large media collections. Better still, the BDR-XD04’s support for Blu-ray XL, on triple or quad(!) layer discs, will give you backup capacity large enough for almost anything you throw at it.
In fact, that’s what makes the BDR-XD04 so unique. In addition to the typical BD-R and BD-RE discs that most drives support, Pioneer included the addition of triple and quad layer BDXL disc support, essentially allowing up to 128GB of data on a single disc. A blessing and a curse, as the media is currently quite rare and prohibitively expensive. You’ll be hard pressed to find a BDXL player for your entertainment center, as well, since the medium is poorly supported at the moment. Still, credit Pioneer for their forward thinking—BDXL will mature. It’s poised to be the next big thing in storage media (and perhaps one of the last).
Little has changed in the styling of the slim form-factor device. The only difference between it and my DVR-XD09 is the badge across the top. It’s a compact drive, measuring in at only .55 by 5.2 by 5.2in. An aluminum lid cover wrapped in a matte black plastic outer shell encases a metal base that the drive’s hardware sits in. A small button on the left side of the drive flips the lid open and a small override latch on the bottom is handy when you forget to pop the disc out before powering down.
The drive is not much louder than the fan I had on my laptop’s GPU, but it’s worth mentioning. Given the situations you’ll likely be using the device on the go, you’ll never hear the drive. Still, Pioneer has added two notable features to the drive for when you absolutely need it quiet. Pioneer’s PowerRead technology will provide smoother playback on discs with fingerprints, smudges and minor scratches—it really cuts down on the amount of noise the optical head makes due to an inability to read data. Even better, an AutoQuiet mode will adjust rotation speed automatically to reduce noise while you watch the movie. Finally, Pioneer’s PureRead2 will automatically adjust the playback settings of audio CDs to prevent from any click and pop during playback. All three additions are great touches that really set this drive apart from its competitors.
Powering this tiny beast is a snap. Two USB 2.0 ports are all you’ll need to get up and running. An optional AC adapter is also available, but not included. Now, before you jump on the 2.0 spec, the drive only writes to BD-Rs at a maximum of 6x due to the smaller form factor. USB 2.0 is more than capable of supporting that transfer speed—a 3.0 spec is unnecessary (you can get away with just using one USB port on most laptops, too). Aside from that, about 5GB of space for included software and your typical Windows setup of 2GB RAM will be all you need.
Cyberlink Media Suite 8 BD is included in the box, which encompasses software support for just about everything you’d ask from the drive:
- Power DVD 10 BD3D, for DVD and Blu-ray playback in 3D
- Power Director 9, for editing and authoring DVDs and Blu-ray discs and
- Power2Go 7, which lets you securely store and share files for your rewritable media
Writing to discs was a breeze with the included software—I had no trouble putting together both a BD-R and DVD-R with the included Cyberlink software. The device supports all existing Blu-ray formats: BD-ROM, BD-R, BD-RE (dual, triple, and quad layer), as well as current DVD and CD standard formats. Write speeds for single and dual layer BD-R discs are 6X, while quad layer writes at 4X and BR-RE formats only 2X. As is typical of this size drive, DVD +R/-R writes at 8X and DVD RW at 6X, while CD-R/RW both write at 24X.
At the end of the day, the BDR-XD04’s portability, included software package, and added features give it a let up on the competition around the same price point. You can currently pick up the drive for around $140 at Best Buy, $129 on Newegg and $125 on Amazon at the time of writing, which offers more features and performance in the form of BDXL support than more expensive ASUS and Sony offerings. You simply will not find a Blu-ray writer more portable than the BDR-XD04. For that, we’re awarding it our coveted Outstanding Product award.