Fernando Lyons

We are now living in the era of the clouds and streams.  As cloud based storage, digital downloading, and video streaming services increase in popularity, the prevalence of physical disc formats and optical drives is becoming more obsolete.  If you have purchased a desktop or laptop computer over the past couple of years, chances are that your machine did not come with an internal optical drive, as many computer manufacturers are omitting the drive in order to reduce costs, or to produce a smaller, thinner and lighter device.  This will force people who require an optical drive to purchase an external USB-connected optical disc drive.  When I went out to purchase my external drive, my intention was to purchase the Apple USB SuperDrive.  However, when I saw that the Pioneer BDR-XD05S BlueRay burner was available for around the same price, I decided to go for the upgrade.

One of the first things you will notice about the Pioneer BDR-XD05S is its size.  Its a thin and light device, which makes it pretty portable.  It should fit in your bag or backpack with your laptop computer with relative ease.  Its has a simple design, but it doesn't look out of place next to my iMac.  It has a pop open tray, instead or a disc slot, so there will need to be plenty of space above the device to allow it to open without obstruction.  There is an open button on its top, and an emergency eject button underneath it.  The previous will not work while the disc is in operation, but the latter will always pop the tray open, which comes in handy if the drive freezes for some reason.  The device is equipped with USB 3,0, which allows for faster data transfers and more efficient processing.  Unfortunately, the device takes up two USB ports, as the second USB connection is used to power the device.

As far as performance, the drive works with all of the popular disc formats, including the 128GB, quadruple layer BDXL discs.  The write speed varies depending on the disc format, but CD's can burn as fast as 24X, DVD's burn between 6X and 8X, and BluRay discus burn at around 6X2.  I have yet to test the device with all of the available disc formats, but the ones I have tried worked well-enough.  The DVD-R's that I replicated using the device, were successfully burned to disc with no incident, however, I was not overly impressed with the overall speed compared to the write speed of the internal DVD burner on my older computer.  The device works right out of the box with pre-installed CD/DVD Rom software software on your computer, but it doesn't come with any packaged disc player/recorder software (at least not for Mac users), so some users will have to go online to download software compatible with some of the device's features, including BluRay playback and recording.  Depending on the software purchased, this can be an expensive endeavor for some.  The Pioneer Utility software is available as a free download from the Pioneer website.  This software allows users to configure their devices for optimum performance.  There is a Quiet Mode which slows the disc down enough to recede the voice associated with the disc and internal fan spinning.  This mode can be set to Off, Persistent, or Quiet Mode (default).  During the latter, the drive may switch to Performance Mode, in which the drive will spin at maximum to accommodate high quality video playback.  The other mode is Pure Read.  This is an audio CD error correction mode that adjusts to damaged or corrupt discs, and attempts to auto-correct the problems in order to provide smooth playback.  

While its overall performance on traditional media is nothing to write home and tell mom about, the Pioneer BDR-XDo5S does perform as expected.  The true value of this device is realized when playing and burning high quality/high capacity BluRay discs.  While I am let down by having to purchase additional software for my Mac, I am still pleased with my decision to purchase the Pioneer BDR-XD05S.  

Bottom Line

+Quiet Drive Mode, Pure Read (Audio Error Correction) Mode, Works With All Optical Formats Including BDXL, Price, Portability, Emergency Eject Button

-No Bundled CD/DVD/BD Player or Recorder Software with Mac version, Consumes Two USB Ports