The Future Is Blue

In case you hadn’t heard (and practically no one I speak to has) for the last few years there has been a ongoing war between ‘HD-DVD’ and ‘Blu-ray’…two broadly similar yet incompatible formats competing to become the next generation successor to DVD.

Like the VHS v Betamax war (and Highlander) there can only be one winner. Unlike the VHS v Betamax war, the (slightly) superior format, Blu-ray (and its inventor, Sony) has won, following an announcement, a couple of weeks ago, by HD-DVD’s inventor, Toshiba, that they would be pulling the plug on their failing format’s life machine.

This is excellent news for consumers and creatives alike, as multi-industry wide consolidation on a single format should eliminate the confusion and bet hedging that has seen sluggish sales of both formats, while increased competition should lower prices to a point where Blue Ray finally becomes affordable to the average shmo.

However, contrary to predictions by over enthusiastic pundits, it will not be HD movies, or even Playstation 3 games that drives the adoption of this technology, but affordable, recordable Blu-ray computer drives…specifically ones that fit into laptops.

First generation Blu-ray discs held 25 GB. Second generation, dual layer Blu-ray discs hold 50GB. TDK and Panasonic have announced quad layer 100GB discs, while Hitachi have actually demonstrated 100GB discs in action, making Blu-ray indispensable for data backup…particularly for creatives.

But the industry will have to get its act together if it wants Blu-ray to be the same success story as CD and DVD, because with Samsung recently announcing a 128GB SSD…together with their expectation that drive capacities will double annually, alternative holographic technology storage solutions on the horizon, the increasing feasibility of fast full resolution video downloads and widespread manufacturer induced confusion about HD, unless manufacturers start knocking out recordable Blu-ray drives and recordable/pre-recorded discs at little more than the cost of existing DVD technology, Blu-Ray will end up as the next SA-CD…and if you have to ask…I rest my case!

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