After Pioneer launched the world’s first internal BD-R XL burner late last year, Buffalo Technology and I-O Data announced plans to launch external BD-R XL burners within weeks of each other.
BD-R XL is a higher capacity version of BD-R, which expands the format by adding extra data layers. There are two types of BD-R XL discs, triple-layer and quad-layer, which can hold 100GB and 128GB, respectively.
Outside of the design differences, the drives are fairly identical in terms of specs and price. They can burn BD-R XL discs at up to 4x, DVD+R/-R SL at 8x, and DVD+R /-R DL at 6x. One difference is that the I-O Data model can burn CD-R/RW at 24x, while the Buffalo model can only achieve 16x.
Both models are set to be released in Japan at the end of April for 23,205 Yen ($283 USD) according to Akihabara. The models are so similar they even share the same product number: BRXL-PC6U2-BK.
The capacity expansion of optical media is amazing when only six years you could only fit a maximum of 9.8GB on a DVD-R DL. However, with declining prices of external hard drives, optical drive manufacturers such as Buffalo and I-O Data have been forced to develop new methods to reduce the costs of discs and drives to compete in the data storage market.
These new models will initially cost $283 dollars, which will of course decline over time, but BD-R XL media is very pricey. A single 100GB BD-R XL costs about $75 while 2TB external hard drives will only cost about $99.
It appears that the BD-R XL will either have to reduce reduce costs to compete against hard drives or find a particular market to ally itself with, like BD-R and DVD-R with movies. A future possibility would be an alliance with Ultra High Definition/Super Hi-Vision (i.e. 4K and 8K) video, which is slated to be introduced sometime between 2018 and 2020; however, it’s unclear if the video stream could be compressed enough to fit on a BD-R XL.