Blu-ray Disc (official abbreviation BD, erroneously also known as BR or Blu-ray, not Blue-ray) is an optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the standard DVD format. Its main uses are for storing high-definition video, PlayStation 3 video games, and other data, with up to 25 GB per single-layered, and 50 GB per dual-layered disc. Although these numbers represent the standard storage for Blu-ray Disc drives, the specification is open-ended, with the upper theoretical storage limit left unclear. 200 GB discs are available, and 100 GB discs are readable without extra equipment or modified firmware.The discs have the same physical dimensions as standard DVDs and CDs.
While current optical disc technologies such as DVD, DVD±R, DVD±RW, and DVD-RAM rely on a red laser to read and write data, the new format uses a blue-violet laser instead, hence the name Blu-ray. Despite the different type of lasers used, Blu-ray products can easily be made backwards compatible with CDs and DVDs through the use of a BD/DVD/CD compatible optical pickup unit. The benefit of using a blue-violet laser (405nm) is that it has a shorter wavelength than a red laser (650nm), which makes it possible to focus the laser spot with even greater precision. This allows data to be packed more tightly and stored in less space, so it's possible to fit more data on the disc even though it's the same size as a CD/DVD. This together with the change of numerical aperture to 0.85 is what enables Blu-ray Discs to hold 25GB/50GB. Recent development by Pioneer has pushed the storage capacity to 500GB on a single disc by using 20 layers. Blu-ray vs DVD vs video >
There are a few formats of Blu-ray Discs available or in the works including BD-ROM, BD-R and BD-RE. Although HD DVD has had combo discs (one side HD, other side standard DVD), Blu-ray has not yet created such a format, but is planning to introduce it soon.Videos will be stored on either MPEG-2 (enhanced for new HD), MPEG-4/AVC (High Profile standard) or on the best of all three, VC-1 (HD standard based on Microsoft's Windows Media Video (WMV) technology.)
HD DVD had a head start in the high definition video market, as Blu-ray Disc sales were slow to gain market share. The first Blu-ray Disc player was perceived as expensive and "buggy", and there were few titles available. This changed when the PlayStation 3 was launched, since every PS3 unit also functioned as a Blu-ray Disc player. At CES 2007, Warner proposed Total Hi Def - a hybrid disc containing Blu-ray on one side and HD DVD on the other - but it was never released.
By January 2007, Blu-ray Discs had outsold HD DVDs,and during the first three quarters of 2007, BD outsold HD DVDs by about two to one. In a June 28, 2007 press release, Twentieth Century Fox cited Blu-ray Disc's adoption of the BD+ ant-copying system as a key factor in their decision to support the Blu-ray Disc format. In February 2008, Toshiba withdrew its support for the HD DVD format, leaving Blu-ray Disc as the victor.
Some analysts believe that Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console played an important role in the format war, believing that it acted as a catalyst for Blu-ray Disc, as the PlayStation 3 used a Blu-ray Disc drive as its primary information storage medium. They also credited Sony's more thorough and influential marketing campaign. It is also worth noting that AVCHD camcorders first appeared in 2006, produce recordings that can be played back on many Blu-ray Disc players without re-encoding, but not on HD DVD players.
Guides and Tools for Converting/Playing Blu-ray:
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Estrella H. is a senior editor in Digiarty Software. She manages the software test section and creates easy and useful how-tos. When not in editing, she spends her spare time on Rubik's Cube and ukulele.
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