Blu-Ray technology is the next generation of optical disc format developed by the Blu-Ray Disc Association (BDA) and major developers of consumer electronics, computers, and media manufacturers around the globe. The technology will enable consumers to store large amount of data (5 to 6 times more than DVD), record / rewrite digital content, and watch high definition videos via Blu-Ray devices. The Blu-ray disc comes in two types: Single layer disc which will be introduced first in the market and dual layer disc which will follow near future. The single layer can hold up to 25 GB of data which equates to about 2 hours of recording / playing time of digital content on HDTV and 13 hours of non-digital content from a regular television. The dual layer disc will hold data up to 50 GB and it will be mainly utilized for gaming (PS3) and entertainment purpose.
Red Vs Blue
The current optical disc technology such as DVD utilizes red laser to read and write data however, the Blu-Ray technology uses blue- violate laser to read and write and thus the name "Blu-Ray" was born. The difference between the red laser and blue laser is quite distinct: First, the wavelength of a blue-violate laser is shorter (405nm) than the red laser (650nm). Second, the numerical aperture has been improved to 0.85. The shorter length of a blue-violate laser leads to focus of a laser spot with tremendous accuracy which makes it possible to pack more data into a disc size of DVD and CD. Moreover, the numerical aperture presents a unit-less measure of the ability of a lens to gather and focus light and the higher number closer to 1, the greater the focusing power and the smaller the laser spot. The current optical disc DVD's numerical aperture ranges from .50 to .65 compared to the Blu-Ray's numerical aperture of .85 making it a huge improvement over the existing optical disc technology.
Blu-Ray: Next Standard?
LaTely, the technology industry has seen an explosive demand for the HDTV and consumer's desire to record high definition content from HDTV is also rising fast. Furthermore, the US government is also looking into standardization and convergence of digital television and unexpectedly replacing non-digital television due to many benefits. The Blu-Ray technology was created out of necessity to meet the new demand and to set a new standard in the field of optical disc. This technology supports direct recording of the MPEG-2 TS (Transport Stream) which is used by many digital broadcasters globally. In other words, digital content from HDTV can be recorded directly to the disc without compromising quality and extraneous processing power. Also, the Blu-Ray uses ultra fast 36 Mbps data transfer rate to complement the large amount of data required for high definition content. This fast rate is more than sufficient to record and playback HDTV while maintaining the original picture quality. It is very possible to watch playback video and record HD video at the same time through the use of random access feature the Blu-Ray technology offers.
Time will tell
Many heated debate ensued over whether the Blu-Ray technology will replace DVD and prevail in the battle against arch nemesis HD-DVD. However, with the strong support of numerous industry leaders and positive outlooks from industry analysts, the Blu-Ray seems to be the next standard for delivering digital content to consumers around the world. In fact, Sony is going to debut the Blu-Ray technology on PS3 when it launches in the spring of 2006. Some Xbox 360 will have HD DVD capability but Microsoft has yet to confirm the speculation. The fierce battle will continue and when the dust settles consumer can decide which of the two will replace DVD and VHS and move onto HDTV era. Only time will tell.