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Could Pioneer's UltraHD Blu-ray drive be the last optical drive you ever buy?

Why it matters to you

If you still find yourself using the odd optical disc, Pioneer's new, UHD-supporting one may give you enough future proofing that you never need buy one again.

Pioneer has announced a new internal Blu-ray/DVD/CD writer with full support for ultra HD Blu-ray playback using the bundled CyberLink PowerDVD 14 software. Called the BDR-211UBK, the drive fits into the optical disk drive (ODD) bay on your PC and could end up being the last ODD you ever buy.

Although the world is gradually moving away from physical media and switching to streaming from the cloud, for reasons of bandwidth and immediacy, sometimes optical drives have their uses. With that in mind, Pioneer is helping PC users who want to watch 4K content without the need for hefty downloads by offering its new internal UHD Blu-ray writer.

The drive has a number of impressive features. As well as being fully supportive of Ultra HD Blu-ray playback up to 4K resolution, it can write BD-R single layer discs up to 25GB at 16x speed, 14x on dual layer BD-R discs, and 8x on BD-R triple layer discs.

More: Everything you need to know about Ultra HD Blu-ray

As with most optical drives, you can switch the region encoding, and thereby its support for that region’s content, up to five times. It also supports traditional Blu-ray playback, as well as DVDs and CDs, and quick-play means all types of compatible optical media are ready much more quickly after insertion.

PowerRead and PureRead3 technology also goes some way to avoiding problems associated with scratches and fingerprints, and in the event that a certain amount of data cannot be read due to disc damage, the player will not get stuck and will simply move on to the next readable content.

You don’t need to worry about excessive spin noise either, as the Pioneer drive’s Auto Quiet Mode ensures that it spins at the slowest — and therefore quietest — rate possible when playing media.

Pioneer also bundles software with the drive, including PowerDVD 14 with support for UHD-BD; Power2Go 8, for easy disc burning; PowerDirector14 LE, which offers basic video editing and authoring tools; InstantBurn 5 which uses optical discs as an alternative storage drive; Label Print 2.5 for disc label printing, and PhotoDirector 5 LE for editing and adjusting photos.

The Pioneer BDR-211UBK will become available in late March at a retail price of $130.