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April 20, 2006

Definitions of the Day: Blue-ray Disc and HD DVD

The other day we mentioned that the new HD DVDs were finally hitting the streets. But did you know that HD DVD isn't the only new DVD format you need to be familiar with? Yep, you'll want to get familiar with Blu-ray also:



Here's a partial definition of Blu-ray from Wikipedia:


Blu-ray Disc (BD) is a next-generation optical disc format meant for storage of high-definition video and high-density data. The Blu-ray standard was jointly developed by a group of consumer electronics and PC companies called the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA). As compared to the HD DVD format, its main competitor, Blu-ray has more information capacity per layer, 25 instead of 15 gigabytes, but may initially be more expensive to produce.

Blu-ray gets its name from the shorter wavelength (405 nm) of a "blue" (technically blue-violet) laser that allows it to store substantially more data than a DVD, which has the same physical dimensions but uses a longer wavelength (650 nm) red laser. Blu-ray unveiled their plans for a Spring 2006 launch at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2006. It will be released on May 23, 2006.


And the partial definition of HD DVD from Wikipedia:


HD DVD has a single layer capacity of 15 GB and a dual-layer capacity of 30 GB. Toshiba has announced that a triple-layer disc is in development, which would offer 45GB of storage. This is less than its primary competitor Blu-ray Disc, which supports 25GB for one layer, 50GB for two layers as presently released. BD 100GB for four, 200GB for eight layers have been demonstrated in a laboratory but have not yet been released to the market. HD DVD proponents point out that multi-layer Blu-ray discs are still in development. The surface layer of an HD DVD disc is 0.6 mm thick, the same as DVD but thicker than the Blu-ray Disc's 0.1 mm layer. The numerical aperture of the optical pick-up head is 0.65, compared with 0.6 for DVD. Both formats will be backwards compatible with DVDs and both employ the same video compression techniques: MPEG-2, Video Codec 1 (VC1, based on the Windows Media 9 format) and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. HD DVD is frequently mispelled 'HD-DVD' as people think it copies the dash from previous generation DVD-R/RW.


You can click on the Wikipedia links above for more details on each technology. So which is better? Well that's becoming the big debate. Obviously Blu-ray looks good because of the larger capacity but the concern is Blu-ray is a more expensive technology than HD DVD. We'll just have to wait till both technologies hit the street to get a better idea of the future of High Definition DVDs. No matter what though, this is an exciting time if not somewhat confusing time for home entertainment.

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Posted by William Hungerford at April 20, 2006 11:31 AM

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