Review: OWC Mercury Pro 8x Blu-ray Pioneer BDR-203 External

If your hard drive is running out of room to store all the movies, music and software you’ve accumulated, maybe it’s time to get a Blu-ray burner. With the ability to store up to 50 GB on each $3.50 disc, backing up your bootlegs has never been cheaper.

Consider the Mercury Pro 8X Blu-ray Pioneer BDR-203 External. Engineering geeks at OWC packed the utilitarian box with four different interfaces: Firewire 400, Firewire 800, eSATA and USB 2.0, even including the cables for each. Backward-compatible for every type of DVD and CD writable and playable format, it works equally well on Macs (OS X 10.3 and higher) and Windows PCs (XP/Vista). Write speeds for BD-R are fast: It took about 7 minutes to write 1 GB of data.

Installing to a Mac using Firewire 800 took less than a minute and only slightly longer on Vista. The BDR-203 does not come with any software or drivers, so both the Mac and PC initially recognized the drive as just a DVD burner. After installing Roxio Creator 2009 Titanium on the PC and Roxio Toast on the Mac, we were able to create data backups and store high-def videos.

It was easy to play Blu-ray videos we made ourselves. But loading a commercial Blu-ray disc on the BDR-203 gave us an error message, and we couldn’t find drivers online to fix the problem. So for now this burner is suited mainly for big-time data storage and playback only of videos created on BD-capable software such as that Roxio packages.

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