Pioneer Intros Blu-ray Combo Drive

And it’s Working on a 400 GB Super Blu-ray Disc.

Pioneer plans in early 2009 to unleash its newest optical drive (BDR-S03J) that will read and burn an array of discs, including Blu-ray, DVD+/-RW and CD.

The new drive will capture content on Blu-ray “write-once” discs at 8x speed—following Sony as the only other drive maker able to equal the speed (although no 8x media exists yet for Blu-ray units).

For Blu-ray “rewritable discs,” however, Pioneer’s new drive offers a decidedly slower 2x recording speed. Pioneer said the 8x single-write discs can be burned in less than 25 minutes (for a 50GB disc) and a bit more than 10 minutes (for 25GB).

The BDR-S03J will be typically backwards-compatible to work with standard DVD and CD, and it comes with error-correcting attributes Pioneer says should allow the drive to play through most disc scratches and surface dirt.

The drive will first be available in Japan in January, and probably reach North America and other sectors by early spring.

But wait, there’s more…

Pioneer also said it is currently working on a 400 GB Blu-ray disc—eight times the capacity of today’s 50 GB disc. It hopes to launch the readable-only version sometime by late 2009 or 2010, according to several tech Web sites. And yes, it will be backwards-compatible for use on today’s “ordinary” Blu-ray players.

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