This seems to be the new flashy word in optical media technology. Some time back we had just CDs with around 700 MB of storage, and that seem quite phenomenal at that time. Then arrives DVD which increased the storage limit 6 times to 4.7 GB, and it simply made the traditional CD look obsolete. We were still savoring the huge benefits offered by this increased storage capacity and here we start hearing about a newer technology, Blu-Ray.
Before delving into what Blu-Ray is, let’s try to see how and why Blu-Ray came into existence. Blue -Ray format is jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of the world’s leading consumer electronics, personal computer and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson). This group declared in February 2002 that Blu-Ray is the newest and coolest format in optical storage media technology. This media storage is capable of storing 25 to 50 GB of content!!
But what was the need for this new technology, when DVD seemed to satisfy all the needs. One DVD can hold one complete movie, and it offers some interactiveness too. So, why Blu-Ray? Answer to this is HD or High Definition technology. High Definition movie has a much clearer image and carry more details. So, it needs almost 5 times the space to store an HD movie. Storing 1 HD movie on 5 DVDs seem to be a stupid thing, and thus this need gave birth to Blu-Ray. A single Blu-Ray disc can easily hold one complete HD movie.
A Blu-Ray disc has 25 GB capacity for a single layer disc and 50 GB capacity for a double layer disc. It is of almost same form as DVD or CD. Due to this reason, most of Blu-Ray players are being made backward compatible, so that you can play your CDs and DVDs in them ( Another reason might be that there isn’t lot of Blu-Ray stuff available around to play in these players!!).
Blu-ray is is now supported by more than 170 of the world’s leading companies. This has also been supported by some of the big movie studios, and many have already announced Blu-Ray titles such as, Warner, Paramount, Fox, Disney, Sony, MGM and Lionsgate. They are planning for newer moview in Blu-Ray format as well as converting existing movies to Blu-Ray. Let’s get into a bit of technical stuff. Normal discs use a red laser light to read and write data. However, Blu-Ray uses Blue laser for this ( and hence the name Blu-Ray). Advantage of using Blue laser is that it has a shorter wavelength than Red laser. Hence, the data can be placed more tightly together offering higher storage on same size disc. Apart from this, CDs and DVDs record data sandwiched between two discs of 0.6 mm each. On the other hand, Blu-Ray records data on top of a single layer of 1.11 mm.
Blu-Ray offers a host of advantages over the normal DVDs and CDs:
1. Their amazing storage size of 25/50 GB.
2. Allows to record HD movie, without compromising on quality.
3. You can record one program while watching another program on disc.
4. You can edit or reorder programs recorded on the disc.
5. You can instantly skip to any spot on the disc.
6. It offers much higher level of interactivity. You can connect to web and download subtitles or other features related to the movie.
7. Once it becomes popular, it would be available at the same cost as DVDs are available today.
Currently Blu-Ray players are more popular in Japan, primarily because HD is more popular in Japan than USA. However, now many manufacturers have started introducing Blu-Ray players in USA. Samsung hit the market with its Blu-Ray player in June ’06. This is what Samsung had to say about its Blu-Ray player:
“The Samsung BD-P1000 plays Blu-ray software titles at the highest resolution available via a native 1080p HDMI output for films digitally mastered in 1920 x 1080p. The BD-P1000 also up-converts conventional DVDs to 1080p through the HDMI digital interface so the picture quality of any traditional DVD will look noticeably more detailed when used with the disc player. The BD-P1000 is backwards compatible and plays both standard DVDs and CDs in addition to supporting all DVD formats including, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW, and DVD+R. “
Blu-Ray is the technology of the future. However, if you are tempted to buy a Blu-Ray device, I would advice you to wait for atleast 1 year. There are number of reasons for it. It is highly priced right now ( the players come in vicinity of $1000), and there isn’t a lot of Blu-Ray stuff available to play in these players. I don’t think you want to end up playing your DVDs in these expensive players.
Blu-Ray is definitely the way to go, just let its time come.