Pioneer BDR-XU03 Review

Pioneer is one of the most known companies when it comes to Audio systems and headphones. But besides that, they also have plenty of other media products. Such as optical drives for both DVD and Blu-Ray discs. And one of their newest external models is the Pioneer BDR-XU03. It’s an external Blu-Ray drive that has a modern design and a slot loading system. Both of which look great next to a laptop. But more about that in the review below!

Technical Specification

  • Dimensions: 133×133×12 mm / 5.2×5.2×0.5″
  • Weight: 245 g / 8.6 oz
  • Loading type: Slot
  • Blu-Ray Writing Speed: Up to 6x BD-R
  • DVD Writing Speed: Up to 8x DVD+RW
  • CD Writing Speed: Up to 24x CD-RW
  • Features: PowerRead, Auto Quiet mode, PureRead2+
  • Port: USB 3.0 Micro B
  • Compatibility: Windows and Mac operating systems

In The Box

  • Pioneer BDR-XU03
  • Stand
  • USB 3.0 Micro B to USB 3.0 cable

Design

I’m personally a huge fan of optical drives that have a slot loading mechanism. Something about them just looks so nice. Plus the sound when it pulls in the disc. I first fell in love with that when I got my first MacBook Pro back in 2019. So I obviously already love how the Pioneer BDR-XU03 looks like. It’s like they have literally cut it out of the Mac. I mean it even has the same aluminium look to it! Actually, the body is made out of magnesium. Which definitely gives it a more premium feel than a typical plastic case.

Pioneer BDR-XU03 Design

Another plus for slot drives is the smaller size requirement. Well to be exact, the slot drives are usually thinner. The disc size limits how small you can really make the drive. That said, the BDR-XU03 has a dimension of 133×133×12 mm / 5.2×5.2×0.5″ and weighs 245 g / 8.6 oz. This is actually much smaller than most of its competitors. Which means that you can easily bring it with you anywhere you go. Just slide it into a laptop bag. I’m even surprised at how light it is, especially since it’s not made out of plastic.

But besides that, this particular model also comes with a stand. It allows you to place the drive vertically on a desk. For example I like to keep it next to my monitor. This way it takes much less space when I use it at home. I can see it being especially convenient at an office. This is pretty much the only optical drive that I have seen include a dock.

Like most recent Blu-Ray external drives, the BDR-XU03 has got just one USB 3.0 Micro type B port. The package also includes a USB 3.0 cable for it. This single cable powers the entire drive and you only need to have one available USB port on your laptop or computer. My only complaint is that the cable is a bit short. So make sure that there are USB ports near the drive.

Performance

As I mentioned before, the Pioneer BDR-XU03 is a Blu-Ray drive. The thing with external drives is that they have pretty much maxed out in terms of performance. For example all of the current models have a maximum Blu-Ray writing speed of 6x and a DVD writing speed of 8x. This is pretty much the fastest speed you can buy at the moment.

The drive is designed for USB 3.0 but you can also use a USB 2.0 port. Now I would only recommend doing that for watching movies. For writing something onto the discs, though, I’d still recommend using USB 3.0 as it’s much faster.

What does set optical drives apart are the different features that companies have included into their products. Take Pioneer for example, they are known for including modes such as PowerRead, Auto Quiet and PureRead2+. In order to access those, you’ll need to download the Pioneer BDR-XU03 Drive Utility off their website. This program is only available on Windows. You can use this drive with Mac as well but not the different modes. Which I must say I haven’t used once. I tested them to see what they did, but that was about it. They don’t really make a difference.

If you wish to use this drive to watch Blu-Ray movies, then you do also need to download a separate program for that. Unfortunately both Windows and Mac OS are incapable of playing Blu-Ray discs without 3rd party software. DVD discs don’t require anything though.

Conclusion

When you are choosing between various external Blu-Ray drives, you should mostly be looking at the price and if you like the design. In terms of performance, they are all pretty much equal. Sure you may get some fancy features with certain companies, but how often will you be using them anyways. So for me, the Pioneer BDR-XU03 is everything I’d want for from an external optical drive. It looks fantastic, works vertically with a stand and performs as well as any other model. The only downside is the price, as it’s much more expensive than most of its competitors. But if you can afford it, then why not.

8.3 Total Score
Excellent!

Design
9.5
Build Quality
9.5
Blu-Ray Writing Speed
7
Noise
7