Pioneer Announces First UHD Blu-ray Optical Drives

Subject: Storage | January 26, 2017 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: Ultra HD, UHD, Pioneer, optical, drive, disc, blu-ray, BDR-S 11 J-X, BDR-S 11 J-BK, 5.25, 4k

Pioneer has announced a pair of new 5.25-inch optical drives (via their Japanese site), and both offer support for UHD Blu-ray playback. These (SATA III) drives are the BDR-S 11 J-BK and BDR-S 11 J-X, and their Ultra HD capability represents a "world's first" for a BD burner, according to Pioneer.

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Image credit: Anandtech

There has been much discussion about support for UHD Blu-ray on the PC in the past year, and the technical capabilities of existing BDXL-compatible drives seemed to offer support for the current crop of UHD media. Unfortunately, the DRM requirements seem to involve the entire chain, and these new Pioneer optical drives support the required AACS 2.0 decryption. But this is just the tip of the iceberg with system requirements, as Anandtech lists what you will actually need to play back UHD Blu-rays on your computer:

  • A PC that supports AACS 2.0 and Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX)
  • An appropriate optical disk drive
  • Software that handles UHD BD playback
  • Windows 10
  • A GPU that has an HDMI 2.0a output with HDCP 2.2 (and AACS2 supported by its driver, which eliminates current-gen standalone GPUs)
  • A 4K TV/display that has an HDMI 2.0a input with HDCP 2.2

The software playback requirements are apparently handled via the included software, which Pioneer lists as PowerDVD 14 - though even the latest commercial version (PowerDVD 16) does not support UHD playback yet. It is possible that a custom version, or one previously unavailable to the public, has been included; as Pioneer specifically states that this included PowerDVD 14 software will allow you to "play Ultra HD Blu-ray such as movies, animation, music, Blu-ray, DVD-Video on your computer".

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Image credit: Anandtech

The two models are differentiated by a more premium audio focus for the BDR-S 11 J-X (and correspondingly higher price, based on reported pricing, below), with this model offering the following audiophile-oriented enhancements:

"BDR-S 11 J-X​ displays the playback quality of the audio CD to be played back in four levels, and in the case of low quality, it carries the "audio CD check function" which displays the coping method such as setting change of this machine It is suitable for applications such as CD ripping and music playback. In addition, by applying the coating adopted also for high-end audio equipment to the disc tray to improve the vibration isolation performance, it also enhances heat dissipation by applying special paint to the interior and exterior of the enclosure, realizing high quietness and reliability..."

Pricing was not included in the official announcement, though Anandtech's report quotes (Japanese-language) PC Watch with pricing roughly equivalent to $200 US (BDR-S 11 J-BK) and $300 US (BDR-S 11 J-X) for the drives. Availability begins in late February in Japan.

Source: Anandtech

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January 26, 2017 | 12:59 PM - Posted by Jeppe (not verified)

Ok so is it possible or not possible to rip your UHD bluray with for example Handbrake with this optical drive?

January 26, 2017 | 01:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You can't rip Blu-rays with Handbrake regardless. You can encode raw, DRM-free video with Handbrake, but you have to get DRM video off the Blu-ray to begin with, or do it on the fly as you encode. You need an application that can decode the AACS, which Handbrake does not do.

January 26, 2017 | 05:53 PM - Posted by Jeppe (not verified)

Thats not what i am asking...(i use Handbrake daily to rip bluray in conjunction with makemkv which act as a "plugin"/link to Handbrake for decrypting the blurays, so Handbrake is my one stop shop for bluray ripping currently)

What i was asking if its possible to rip these UHD blurays since they seem to have extra protection compared to the HD blurays i am ripping.

January 26, 2017 | 09:13 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

AFAIK, no, UHD Bluray has not been cracked yet.

January 27, 2017 | 10:23 AM - Posted by Jeppe (not verified)

Ah, thats a shame, hopefully there is a solution in the future.

January 26, 2017 | 09:30 PM - Posted by Wardialer Turden (not verified)

Why do you do that? Or be stupid enough talk about it in a public forum?

January 27, 2017 | 10:22 AM - Posted by Jeppe (not verified)

Why? Simple, i want to consolidate all my movies all in the same place (on my NAS) so i can watch any of my movies with just 1 click. All my physical movies are stored in my garage, don't want them in my living room, don't want them anywhere.

Why i talk about it on a public forum? Because i simply don't care or agree with the snobs at the media companies, if i buy a physical bluray i am sure as hell gonna be entitled to copy it for my own usage as long as i own the physical media. In Sweden we also pay extra tax on hard drives for "private copy" of media that is redistributed to the media companies, so i buy the bluray AND pay an extra tax to the media companies for my hard drive (even paying that tax if i never copy any of their material on my hard drive) so yeah, i am gonna do whatever i want with the bluray i own.

February 21, 2017 | 10:18 PM - Posted by Jonnie (not verified)

Because I'm sure it will be cracked almost as soon as there's enough content if someone isn't sitting on a crack already. And why are you so paranoid, every crack for dvds, blue ray is already available. You act like he's asking for enriched uranium. Your post is just about the dumbest post I've seen. Ha! Wear your tin foil hat.

January 26, 2017 | 01:48 PM - Posted by wolfleben (not verified)

I find the support for 4k video format being hardware based DRM to be a bit excessive. The fact that to use this device you'll need a Kaby Lake processor or in theory AMD Ryzen and Windows 10 is just nuts. Why couldn't 4k video support weather streaming or watching by a drive be handled at the software level or how about your Graphic Card? That would make more sense in my opinion.

January 26, 2017 | 02:19 PM - Posted by YTech

It's a DRM issue. The chipset on the optical drive has to contain the appropriate key to give permission to decrypt and then the software to decode. The OS has to do with overlay coding to prevent illegal video captures of the content.

It is over excessive. I just hope it doesn't take over your system just to watch a film that you own. And you will probably require access to the Internet as it scans the disc to ensure it's not a pirated copy. Hopefully, it won't be required all the time and won't come with various other limits that prevents you to enjoy your Home Theatre System.

January 27, 2017 | 12:53 PM - Posted by razor512

What happens in a year when the DRM changes, and they suddenly want you to buy a new drive?
Many of the recent $7000 OLED TVs lack support for the latest HDCP needed for UHD blu-ray.

January 28, 2017 | 08:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It's a part of the planned obsolesce business model. They (media companies) want to have endless control over what, when, and how you consume their content. The Electronics companies go along with this as they get to sell more 'new' stuff. With the unstoppable ads and the endless punishment for being a buying consumer it's no wonder the public DVR service does as well as it does.

January 26, 2017 | 01:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So what video card then?

January 26, 2017 | 02:08 PM - Posted by YTech

Note that LG also has a supportive UHD optical drive. What is to be completed this year (2017) is the software DRM finalization and minor firmware update.

Cyberlink and Corel seems to be the only companies making UHD blu-ray playback software to decode the 4K DRM for PCs.

January 26, 2017 | 02:29 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

If I am able to buy the disc, rip it and put it on my media server I will continue to buy discs. If not I'll pirate it and these companies responsible for anti-consumer DRM will not see a dollar from me.

January 26, 2017 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Anonymously Anonymous (not verified)

so, you think stealing is the answer?

January 26, 2017 | 04:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Downloading isn't stealing.

January 26, 2017 | 09:32 PM - Posted by Wardialer Turden (not verified)

Piracy is theft. Assholes who steal shit drive quality down and prices up.

February 21, 2017 | 10:24 PM - Posted by Jonnie (not verified)

Yeah, I'm sure understand discs would be $10 cheaper without piracy. Common sense isn't so common.

January 27, 2017 | 09:34 AM - Posted by Anonymously Anonymous (not verified)

downloading copies of software, music, movies, etc, and doing that without paying for it is illegal no matter how you try to spin it.

How would you feel, if you spent a lot of money to create a movie, or game or application and some ass-hats made copies of your work without paying you for it? Seriously, are you ok with people stealing from you?

January 29, 2017 | 03:35 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You're acting as of they want us to watch their content anyway. I have a 5000$ 4k TV in my living room that cannot play back their DRM loaded trash because it's a few years old. My other 4k TV can't either. If they wanted my to spend 40$ for their stupid discs, I would have to have something to play them right?

Your logic is backwards dude. If we could spend 5$ and get 4k movies to stream or download they would be swimming in money from everyone buying stuff. Instead they price it into some sort of elitist club then scoff at us peasants when we can't afford our dues.

January 26, 2017 | 04:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Same here. They are only punishing paying customers.

January 27, 2017 | 09:37 AM - Posted by Anonymously Anonymous (not verified)

Just because you don't agree with or like the company or the things they do DOES NOT JUSTIFY OR MAKE IT OK TO STEAL FROM THEM!!!

January 27, 2017 | 08:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

When you buy a movie on disc, the label tells you which studio made the disc. Usually, if you have issues with the disc such as a bad copy (which happened with the Blade Runner collection set), you contact the studio to request a copy that works.

I suggest you do the same about DRM. If everyone who bought a copy of a 4K film on blu-ray would contact the studio and request a DRM-free disc, they will start to get the hint.

Depending on the studio, you might get some neat goodies too :)

January 26, 2017 | 08:36 PM - Posted by NightKat (not verified)

I have to agree, this DRM for UHD is Excessive and Draconian. I'm actually shocked this is the first i'm hearing about how bad it is. So.. i guess everyone is okay with this.

But, let me see, I need to buy the Latest CPU, and Motherboard, And A brand new GPU that isn't even released yet... just to watch a movie? Maybe they just want to kill Optical Media for good.

January 26, 2017 | 11:03 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

But the drive is black to match the inside of your case.

January 27, 2017 | 04:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I actually agree with tightening up on the anti-piracy measures.

If you are upset that your PC isn't capable of playing UHD then point the finger at those who STEAL movies.

Would you blame a brick-and-mortar store for putting a better lock on their door?

Sure, it sucks. There's frankly NO PERFECT SOLUTION.

*BTW, aside from the ISP monitoring of downloads to prevent theft, since 2013 BluRay players (standalone) are required to include CINAVIA audio watermarks.

Any movie that has this will be MUTED at random (might even watch 30 minutes fine) and RECODING the audio doesn't help.

I started ripping my OWN CONTENT before discovering I was SOL. It still play fine one other media players, but it's likely a matter of time until all sold "media players" and possibly all computers at some point though I don't know if it's really possible to stop this fully.

(Ironically, many experts believe a little piracy is GOOD for the industry as it gets people hooked and acts like advertising... )

January 27, 2017 | 10:28 AM - Posted by Jeppe (not verified)

You are comparing apple and oranges, especially:

"Would you blame a brick-and-mortar store for putting a better lock on their door?"

I am sure no-one would blame them because that only affect the people who have the intention to steal the products inside the store, and the customer would not even notice that they increased the security, regular paying customer is UNAFFECTED by their extra security measures.

In this case, with UHD blurays, the people who will be mostly affected by this move is the honest paying customer, not the pirates...

January 28, 2017 | 03:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Pirates usually come up with ways to defeat such DRM so it really mostly just adds inconvenience and annoyance for paying customers. I will not buy something that needs to connect to a server to allow me to play a disk. There has been repeated cases where paying customers lose access to content for one reason or another with such setups. I like to have a physical disk because of the much greater quality compared to streaming, but I really consider the actual disk to be for archive/backup. I am not going to buy a disk unless I can rip it and play it whenever I want, without needing to actually get the physical disk out and put it in a player.

I think the threat of piracy also keeps the prices under control to some extent. Back in the 90's, the price of a CD was getting up to around $20, or more. That was very expensive for back then. I believe there were some charges of the music industry/record stores being a price setting cartel; that is they colluded to set higher prices rather than competing on price. It was ridiculous, since it probably costed quite a bit less than $1 to make a CD in volume. After a while, you also could buy a giant package of writable CDs for a lot less than a stamped CD. It is their content, so they can price it anywhere they want, but it is pretty bad that they priced it so high, that they pushed a huge number of people into stealing it.

A digital copy of a song should not be very expensive. It is better for them to be cheaper. People will just have more music and larger video libraries. People are going to spend a certain amount, and if it is more expensive, then they will buy less. With songs being 99 cents, people will buy huge numbers of songs. In fact, it prompts people to probably spend more total than they otherwise would. The low price and easy downloading has probably reduced piracy of music significantly.

The threat of piracy is one of the few things that keeps them from price gouging too much. Although, if something is in high demand, but priceds too high, they run the risk of pushing more people into pirating it. Once somebody pirates one thing, they are probably more likely to pirate more things. Draconian DRM will just increase piracy. People will not be happy with the restrictions. I don't expect UHD blu-ray to really take off. Most people are fine with streaming and optical disk are just considered obsolete. While you can't stream 4K very well now, we probably will be able to in the future. I can watch 1080p YouTube on my Apple TV, and it looks better than the signal I get from the cable box. That wasn't the case just a few years ago.

January 27, 2017 | 08:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What is the benefit over standalone UHD Blu-ray player?

January 27, 2017 | 09:55 AM - Posted by Anonymously Anonymous (not verified)

One of the benefits is it helps cut down on the clutter of too many components under the TV/monitor and potentially fewer remotes. It's also a nice convenience factor, all apps and media in one box, no need to change input channels on the tv anytime you wanted to switch entertainment.

January 27, 2017 | 12:15 PM - Posted by Gadgety1 (not verified)

Great question. Software will probably be buggy, the Pioneer, or LG 5.25 disk drive noisier, and cost as much as a stand alone 4k Bluray player, the PC more power hungry, bring fan noise, and on top of it you need all new hardware, the latest Intel Skylake processor with a "beefy" internal GPU, 200-series motherboards that may, or may not, support 4k UHD, windows 10 etc. A lot of money and requirements. The Windows PC used to be a can-do-it-all, but there's less relevance in it as an HTPC today. Unless you skip native 4k and use MadVR... but, then again, no need for a $200-300 UHD-BD drive.

January 27, 2017 | 12:19 PM - Posted by Gadgety1 (not verified)

A marketing dep't fail: It should at least say Ultra HD Blu-ray on the front of it to bring some bragging rights.

January 27, 2017 | 01:51 PM - Posted by ItsKingJamesNow

Not even possible for current Nvidia Pascal GPU's to work with firmware upgrade? Or does DRM require separate new hardware componentry? If so should come with a PCIe 1x add-in card with at least 1 HDMI output that would work, otherwise this is presently useless.

January 27, 2017 | 05:15 PM - Posted by krohm (not verified)

the right to property is what has us all enslaved

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