The Pioneer DVR-215 is the SATA version of the decent Pioneer DVR-115 EIDE DVD writer.

Less than a month ago we looked at the Pioneer DVR-115. Now we're jumping to the Pioneer DVR-215. Can there really have been that much of an advance in for short weeks? Well, no.

For anyone not familiar with the fight in the DVD writers market, the real issue now concerns which drive interface to equip the writers with - EIDE or SATA. In many ways this is a rather bizarre fight to be having. After all, the slower EIDE interface has been outdated for several years ago – we can't remember the last time a PC came in that used a EIDE rather than a SATA hard drive, for example.

However, despite the apparent need for speed, DVD writer manufacturers have been slow to catch on and have seemed content to supply drives purely in EIDE form. In truth, this situation has begun to change in recent months, and for some time Pioneer has been offering both EIDE (the 1xx range) and SATA (2xx range) models.

So then, the Pioneer DVR-215 is really just the SATA version of the DVR-115. As such, it has the same slightly disappointing write speeds as the EIDE version.

Obviously the 20-speed DVD-R/+R facilities are as good as it gets on paper, but 10-speed double-layer 8.5GB looks slightly disappointing at a time when the likes of the Samsung SH-S203 can boast 12- and 16-speed. And even the SATA-based Pioneer DVR-215 can't get on terms with that all-conquering Samsung.

Like the DVR-115, future firmware upgrades should bring higher consistency and better compatibility. For the time being though, the Pioneer DVR-215 offers good but not outstanding performance.

Other write formats are well supported by the Pioneer DVR-215, with very decent 12-speed DVD-RAM and the now almost obligatory six-speed/eight-speed DVD-RW/+RW getting a good rendition. There isn't a Lightscribe version of this drive, which is a shame – Lightscribe is still something of a novelty to many users, but if you're looking to create polished and professional discs of your pictures and audio files, this is still the easiest approach.


A slightly improved version of the DVR-115, the Pioneer DVR-215 does benefit from having a faster interface. However, it's still not quite up to the same level as the Samsung SH-S203. A firmware upgrade may give it some extra speed, but in the meantime, this is a very dependable option rather than a must-buy.