Pioneer BDC-202 Inverness

The BDC-202 is currently the cheapest way to play Blu-ray movies on your PC, but it's difficult to recommend whole-heartedly. Putting aside the question of whether Blu-ray will succeed against the rival HD-DVD format, this drive's disappointing burning performance means you might want another DVD writer if you regularly burn DVDs.

Laing PC Support
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Sutherland Systems & Services
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B S COMPUTERS
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iTek Solutions Ltd
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Inverness
 
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Pioneer BDC-202

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If you want to watch Blu-ray movies on your media centre or desktop PC, your only option until recently was to spend around £500 on a Blu-ray writer. This is especially extravagant if you don't need to burn your own Blu-ray discs. A more affordable option is Pioneer's BDC-202 drive, which can only read Blu-ray discs but costs less than £200.

The BDC-202 is an internal drive that uses a SATA cable to connect to your PC's motherboard, instead of the PATA cable used by most other DVD drives. If your motherboard doesn't have any spare SATA sockets, you could add a PCI card with SATA ports to your PC for around £14 from www.dabs.com. The thinner and more flexible SATA cables do make installation less fiddly.

We had no trouble playing back Blu-ray movies once the BDC-202 was installed, although you'll have to get playback software separately, as none is included. For the best results, your PC should have a dual core processor as well as a fairly recent graphics card, and to get the full benefit of Blu-ray movies you'd want a graphics card with an HDMI port connected to a high-definition TV.

While the BDC-202 can't write Blu-ray discs, it can burn ordinary DVDs. Unfortunately, both its stated and actual DVD write speeds are behind those of the latest 18x and 20x DVD writers. It couldn't reach its quoted 12x speed for writing single-layer discs, instead achieving just under 8x. Most '18x' and '20x' DVD writers we've seen reach around 9-10x. The BDC-202 came close to its stated 4x when writing dual-layer discs, but the fastest DVD writers we've seen can burn these at 6-8x. You'll have to find your own disc writing software, too, since this again is missing from the bundle.

The BDC-202 is currently the cheapest way to play Blu-ray movies on your PC, but it's difficult to recommend whole-heartedly. Putting aside the question of whether Blu-ray will succeed against the rival HD-DVD format, this drive's disappointing burning performance means you might want another DVD writer if you regularly burn DVDs. That means more expense, and may not be feasible if your PC doesn't have room for another disc drive.Formats: 12x DVD-R, 12x DVD+R, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD+RW, 4x DVD-R DL, 4x DVD+R DL, 24x CD-R, 24x CD-RW

Part code: BDC-202

Affordable Blu-ray drive for next-generation movies. Pioneer's BDC-202 isn't fast at writing DVDs, but it's still the cheapest Blu-ray drive so far.

Author: Alan Lu

Pioneer BDC-202