Meet Pioneer’s Two New 4K UHD Blu-ray Drives for PCs

by on January 26, 2017

Stephan Jukic – January 26, 2017

While there are by now several different 4K Blu-ray disc player models for 4K TVs available on the market from all of the major brands, the PC Blu-ray UHD angle has been decidedly under-exploited so far. This is now going to start changing thanks to the pioneering efforts of, well, Pioneer.

The move by the company comes just as some of the first 4K display PC and laptop models hit the market with the capacity to play back streamed and other sources of 4K UHD HDR content thanks to the new 4K playback compatibility specs that are emerging for PCs with Windows 10 and Intel’s new Kaby Lake Core i7 CPUs. We’re talking here about the inclusion of specs like HDCP 2.2, HEVC and HDR support for HDR10 that are now found in a number of PC and even laptop models due to the presence of Kaby Lake processing technology and the latest versions of Windows 10 in these devices.

Thus, just as Netflix 4K content streaming (soon to be followed by 4K content streaming from other sources as well) is hitting the PC display, Pioneer is taking advantage of the same Kaby Lake specs to offer their 4K Blu-ray drives for PC.

Now, while most people probably barely use their physical media drives in their computers these days thanks to the power and availability of HD and SD streaming content sources, the situation with 4K video sources via disc might be a bit different. Just as is the case with today’s 4K UHD TVs, streaming ultra HD content isn’t available to just anyone. A key requirement for this video format is an internet connection with enough bandwidth to support the extra resolution. This amounts to at least 20 to 25 Mbps and for millions of consumers around the world (including the U.S.A) such speeds simply aren’t yet available.

This is where the technology of Pioneer’s new disc drives will definitely come in handly for users who have a Kaby Lake PC with HDR10 support and want to enjoy 4K movies with the full power of high dynamic range enabled on their screens. The 4K resolution aspect of all this isn’t even that important in this case, since a PC display is small enough where the difference between 4K and 1080p is essentially invisible to the naked eye but that sweet HDR is a possibility and it might just be worth the purchase of the Pioneer disc drives.


Moving onto the drives themselves, they come in two editions. One is the BDR-S11K-BK and the other is the BDR-S11J-X. Both are compact devices of the 5.25 inch variety,  making them highly compatible with the vast majority of desktop computing rigs and for PCs without such a size, expansion ports are available.

As for the requirements that a PC has to comply with if it’s going to use Pioneer’s BDR-S11K-BK and BDR-S11J-X drives, they’re as we mentioned above. Said PCs will have to be running on Window’s 7th generation Core i5 or i7 Kaby Lake CPUs and the latest version of Windows 10. A 4K-capable PC monitor would also obviously be a good idea and since we’re mostly talking about smaller 32 inch or less displays, HDR display capability in the monitor would be a useful bonus to have since the 4K resolution itself won’t deliver the same sort of wow factor as the HDR would.

Monitor or PC should also offer support for HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 (which comes with both HDMI 2.0a and Kaby Lake processing technology. Using the drives for 4K content from Blu-ray discs also requires 10-bit HEV support but this too comes with Kaby Lake processing technology. Luckily, 4K HDR PC monitors with HDMI 2.0a are now a thing in 2017 and Kaby Lake PCs and laptops are also now going on sale.

Kaby Lake 7th Generation CPUs

It’s also worth noting that the new Pioneer disc drives come with a copy of CyberLink’s PowerDVD media player, which now comes with 4K UHD Blu-ray playback support, and is at least for now the only media playback software for PC on the market to do so.

Pioneer is releasing both drives in late February, likely to the Japanese market at first and then further on to the U.S and other countries. We don’t yet have pricing details for the two drive units.

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