Over the last few years, we've had a number of Pioneer's DVD and Blu-ray Disc writers drives in the 'Labs. Offering a good mix of performance and features, these drives have become the choice of enthusiasts as well as some of our favorites. The BDR-2203 continues this trend by delivering a number of useful features as well as some of the fastest BD reading and writing speeds available. However, there were also a few performance aspects that kept the drive from getting top marks in our review.

The BDR-2203 is the first drive from Pioneer with the ability to write to both BD-R and BD-R DL media at 8x. At this speed, the drive took a little less than 15 minutes to burn an entire 25GB BD-R disc. This wasn't enough to top the 8x Blu-ray Disc writers from Sony and LG. However, the drive gave them both a serious run for their money. The BDR-2203 also performed very well when writing to BD-R DL media, burning a full 50GB BD-R DL disc in about 30 minutes.

Using the bundled software, the BDR-2203 played all of the Blu-ray movies I had on hand, including those protected by BD+ and with BD-Live enabled features. The drive also performed fairly well in our transfer rate tests, reading BD-ROM's and BD-R and BD-RE media at speeds near 8x and BD-R DL discs at 6x.

Pioneer's new drive also has the ability to read and write to all standard DVD formats, including DVD-RAM. The BDR-2203 performed very well when writing to DVD±R discs, taking about 6 minutes to burn an entire 4.7GB DVD. The drive also had no problems holding its own when writing to other types of media. However, the writing quality could have been better with some DVD+R DL discs. Nevertheless, the BDR-2203 was fairly quick when reading DVD's. In our tests, it was able to read single layer DVD-ROM's and DVD±R discs at speeds near 16x and both DVD±RW and DVD±R DL media at 12x.

When it came to reading CD's, the BDR-2203's performance was a mixed bag. While the drive read pressed discs at 40x, it had to slow to read both CD-R and CD-RW media. This was a little disappointing considering most drives read pressed and CD-R media at the same speed. As a writer, the BDR-2203 performed as expected. The drive turned in some very good times with CD-R media and its writing quality was quite good. Unfortunately, due to its Z-CLV writing method, it wasn't as fast as some of the other drives in our rewriting tests.

Pioneer's new Blu-ray Disc writer also has its share of features. To prevent buffer underruns, the BDR-2203 is equipped with a 4MB buffer that is backed up by some sort of buffer underrun technology. The drive also has a good number of writing and rewriting speeds to choose from as well as the ability to set the book type of DVD+R DL media. To top it off, Pioneer has included a great software bundle from CyberLink.

The BDR-2203 is available now and can be purchased through major retailers or directly from Pioneer for about $250. Otherwise, if you can do without the retail box and bundled software, the BDR-203 can be picked up for less than $210 through some of the vendors listed on Pricegrabber.

Pioneer BDR-2203 8x
Blu-ray Disc Writer
Overall: 8


  • Writes to BD-R and BD-R DL media at 8x
  • Writes to BD-RE and BD-RE DL media at 2x
  • Writes to DVD-R and DVD+R media at 16x
  • Writes to DVD+RW media at 8x
  • Writes to DVD-RW media at 6x
  • Writes to DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL media at 8x
  • Reads single layer BD-ROM's at 8x
  • Reads BD-R and BD-R DL media at 8x
  • Reads BD-RE and BD-RE DL media at 6x
  • Reads single layer DVD-ROM's at 16x
  • Reads DVD±R media at 16x
  • Reads DVD±R DL and DVD±RW media at 12x
  • Features 40x CD-R and 24x CD-RW writing speeds
  • Includes buffer underrun prevention technology
  • 4MB buffer
  • Good CD-R and DVD±R writing quality
  • Includes software from CyberLink
  • Supports bitsetting for DVD+R DL media


  • Questionable writing quality with some DVD+R DL media
  • Had a hard time reaching its rated BD and DVD read speeds
  • Reads CD-RW media at only 24x
  • Cannot set the book type of DVD+R and DVD+RW media
  • Overburns to only 95:10

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