Pioneer has become the first company to launch Ultra HD Blu-ray drives for the PC market, announcing two models with full read/write capability and support for the latest high-resolution discs - providing, of course, you meet the minimum system requirements.
The Pioneer BDR-S11J-BK and BDR-S11J-X - the latter a higher-priced model including improved error correction capabilities for reading scratched discs, something the company claims will be especially welcomed by audiophiles - are first and foremost data storage devices. Both support the full range of CD, DVD, and Blu-ray writeable formats, while including the ability to read CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, and the new Ultra-HD Blu-ray format - the latter offering near-4K resolution and previously exclusive to standalone players and selected games consoles.
Sadly for those still wedded to physical media, there's a long list of requirements before you can take advantage of UHD Blu-ray playback. You'll need the drive, naturally, but you'll also need Windows 10 running on a Kaby Lake processor with Intel's Software Guard Extensions (SGX), HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 on your GPU and an Ultra HD monitor with both of those features too. Worse, anyone with an Intel processor lacking an integrated GPU will be excluded, as the device decodes the Ultra HD Blu-ray content entirely upon the iGPU even if an external GPU is present. Even then, Pioneer has warned that low-power U-family parts with iGPUs aren't compatible.
Assuming your system meets those requirements, the BDR-S11J-BK is to launch in Japan late next month priced at around £154 excluding taxes, while the audiophile-friendly BDR-S11J-X fetches around £245 excluding taxes. Exact UK pricing and availability have yet to be confirmed, with more details available on Pioneer's official announcement
(though in Japanese.)