Blu-Ray - The future of Digital Media

With HDTV hardware appearing in stores way back in 1998, it became obvious to those in the industry that it was time to start preparing for the next step in the progression of digital media. Over 10 years later, we are finally seeing the potential of video and audio realised in our own living rooms like never before. Blu-Ray has arrived.

Whilst it's fair to say that VHS, Beta (and the many variations of the video tape), laser disc, DVD and the other lesser known video mediums have served the domestic video market well over the last few decades, we've all been frustrated by these essentially flawed mediums from time to time.

Limited picture resolution and sound quality, deteriorating quality (on tape based analog mediums), frustrating and limited navigation systems have all spelt unrealised potential for filmmakers and producers desperate for end users to enjoy their masterpieces in all their glory.

Enter the Blu-Ray. Now I'm not here to say we've arrived and this is the end of the esteemed line for video mediums, but surely...surely we must be close.

Benefits of Blu-Ray

The Blu-Ray disc - available as a single later 25Gb, or dual later at a staggering 50Gb (each over 5 times the capacity of there respective predecessors (DVD and DL-DVD). This alone is an incredible development, but the specification of the disc medium mean that this is by no means the limit. Current players are able to read 100Gb discs without extra upgrades, while a 200gb disc is already in production.

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough that Blu-Ray delivers is the ability to playback 1920x1080 progressive (full HD). DVD was inherently limited by the laser technology used to read the media. The red and infrared laser diode was incapable of accessing data from the media at a constant, fast enough rate to cater for the massive data required for 1080p playback and was limited to playback of standard definition footage (720x576). It wasn't until the development of the blue laser used in Blu-Ray that the extra bandwith was catered for and full HD video and pure audio (formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD high resolution audio) became a reality for domestic users.

These strong advantages, combined with the hard coating technology (providing an almost scratch proof finish), a vastly superior and more responsive navigation system, access to updatable online features and scores of other functionality features that need to be experienced make Blu-Ray a sure fire winner.

Blu-Ray and the future

Blu-Ray discs look just like DVD and therein lies one huge benefit - Blu-Ray players are compatible with DVDs, meaning there's no need to find space for an additional unit. It makes sense to upgrade your DVD player to a Blu-Ray player without your DVDs becoming obsolete.

There are a wide range of developments to blu-ray for the future, including multiple storage capacity variants (currently up to 1 terrabyte storage capacity has been floated by Pioneer for launch by 2013, along with variations such as 3D Blu-Ray which has already been confirmed by the Blu-Ray Disc Association for use on current generation Blu-Ray players with a firmware upgrade.

The cost of Blu-Ray player has fallen dramatically since they were introduced in mid 2006, and the subsequent release of movie titles has been fast and well supported by the public. Recent research has shown the support for Blu-Ray has been stronger and more rapid than DVD at the equivelant point on its development cycle. Having said this, only time will tell the whether the public will continue it's love affair with disc based storage, or if the many online download options will be it's downfall.