Pioneer and CyberLink unveiled for the U.S. market Wednesday a 4K Ultra HD PC bundle including new Pioneer Ultra HD Blu-ray drives and the first-time release of CyberLink’s PowerDVD software enabling playback of Ultra HD Blu-ray content.

In what the companies are calling a “market first,” Pioneer will release at the end of February two new optical disc drives (models BDR-S11J-BK & BDR-S11J-X) that will be bundled with a customized version of PowerDVD to render UHD Blu-ray playback.

Read more on the Ultra HD Blu-ray PC drive bundle after the jump:

Pioneer’s optical drives were introduced in Japan earlier this month as “BD burners,” and included PowerDVD software supporting up to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray video playback.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray format will produce 4K Ultra HD video content (3840×2160 pixels) from pre-recorded Ultra-HD Blu-ray discs. The format also affords a greatly expanded color range and “provision of both high dynamic range (HDR) and high-frame rate (up to 60fps) content.” The release information did not specify if the software or hardware would support Dolby Vision or any other “optional” HDR formats in the Ultra HD Blu-ray specification. Only HDR10 is listed for mandatory support by Ultra HD Blu-ray players.

CyberLink said its PowerDVD flagship media player is billed as the first Ultra HD Blu-ray playback software available for Windows PCs with compatible hardware. A customized version of PowerDVD will be bundled with the new Pioneer Ultra HD Blu-ray drives (models ), CyberLink said.

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“As a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), CyberLink is working closely with PC manufacturers to lead consumers to the ultimate 4K experience,” stated Dr. Jau Huang, CEO of CyberLink. “PowerDVD is already recognized as the number one solution for playing media content on Windows PCs, and with the added support of Ultra HD Blu-ray we are excited to bring next-generation technology in home and personal entertainment to every family.”

Ultra HD Blu-ray playback might require key updates to PC system hardware to operate, the companies said. This includes: a Windows 10 64-bit OS; Intel 7th Generation Core i5/i7 processors (selected models: KabyLake-S & KabyLake-H), Intel HD Graphics 630 chipsets, as well as HDR, HDCP2.2 and HDMI2.0a compatible motherboards, which are expected to ship in early 2017.

The PC will also require a connection to a 4K Ultra HDTV or PC monitor with HDMI 2.oa/HDCP 2.2 connection or better. Ultra HD Blu-ray supporting graphics cards need the ability to read and playback HEVC 10-bit encoded content or better and read and play HDR10 HDR metadata.

At present, CyberLink said it is only shipping customized versions of the new PowerDVD software for Ultra HD Blu-ray to OEM partners such as Pioneer. The retail version of PowerDVD will support UHD-BD playback in version 17 which will release in April, 2017.

In addition to playing Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, the new optical drives will both read and write to CDs, DVDs and standard Blu-ray discs. They will support maximum burning speeds of up to the following:

BD-R 16x
BD-R DL 14x
BD-R TL 8x
BD-R QL 6x
BD-RE (SL / DL / TL ) 2x
DVD ± R 16x
DVD ± R DL 8x
DVD + RW 8x
CD-R 40x
CD-RW 24x

Pioneer’s “BDR-S11J-BK” and “BDR-S11J-X” will carry retail prices in Japan of $195 and $310, respectively, according to U.K. website CDRInfo. The step-up model was designed with advanced components to support high-performance audio playback. The drives will include a CD check function that checks playback quality of audio CDs.

Pioneer said in Japan that it is also working on the release of portable BD burners that will support Ultra HD.

By Greg Tarr


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