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What Is Blu-Ray And Why Should You Buy It?

May 26, 2008
In February 2008, Toshiba decided to pull the plug on the HD-DVD format. This ended the format war that was predicted to last much longer. Now manufacturers have the unenviable task of educating the consumer about Blu-ray and convincing them that it is a worthwhile purchase. When DVD hit the market in 1997, it was exciting. Here was a disc the size of a CD which you didn't have to rewind like VHS, had superior video quality and could hold extras. But with that came the additional cost. DVD players were expensive, the discs were expensive and it took some time for consumers to make the change. Blu-ray doesn't quite have the same novelty factor. So why should you upgrade?

First, here is a little technical information about the Blu-ray disc. Blu-ray has the same physical size and appearance of a DVD. A Blu-ray disc is read by a blue (violet) laser in the drive which has a shorter wavelength than the red laser used with CDs and DVDs. Also, the disc has much smaller, tightly packed pits which allows more capacity to be crammed into the same sized space. The BD25 disc has 25GB capacity can hold up to four times the amount of content of a standard DVD-R or four hours of high definition video. The BD50 has 50GB capacity. This format is set to be the main choice for movie studios.

The home entertainment market is driving the promotion of Blu-ray discs. High definition television is growing in popularity and Blu-ray can deliver hours of high definition video. The increased capacity on the disc means more creative authoring options and more scope for interactivity and extras. Increased interactivity such as split screens with director's commentary and cast interviews and menu overlays will allow you to access your extras without interrupting the movie. Future Blu-ray players will also have networking capabilities which would allow you to connect to the internet and access information on the film or whatever extras that the studios have developed. Also, Blu-ray offers robust content protection which is good for both movie producers and software companies.

The downsides: As of May 2008, the players which offer internet connectivity are not on the market and the current players on the market are not upgradeable. The cost of Blu-ray players and discs are prohibitive especially in the current world financial climate. I remember buying a DVD player for $800 USD only to almost weep when it was selling for $100 two years later. Recent research has forecast that almost 30 million homes will have Blu-ray technology by the end of 2008 mainly due to the PS3. However, it will not be until 2013 when the numbers of standalone players surpass that of the PS3. It seems that Blu-ray is now in the realm of early adopters, enthusiasts and gamers. As with a lot of new technology, it might be a few years before consumers jump on board after the technology and pricing has settled. My advice, wait a few more years.
About the Author
Tara Roitman is the marketing manager for Media Heaven Ltd - full service experts in DVD duplication, CD Packaging and USB memory stick duplication.
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