What is Blu-ray?

Posted By BrokenClaw on March 7, 2008

Blu-ray Disc (abbreviated either BD or BRD) is the brand name for a new type, or format, of optical media disc. Blu-ray discs are the same physical size as standard CDs and DVDs and look very similar. Its name comes from the fact that it uses a blue laser (actually the violet spectrum) to read and write the disc. As with most new things in technology, its defining characteristic is that it can do more, faster than previous technology. In this case, Blu-ray discs can hold five to ten times more data than a standard DVD.

In 2007, there was an ongoing format war between Blu-ray and another high-capacity disc called HD DVD. In 2008, the manufacturers and content providers abandoned the HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray.

The high capacity of BRD makes them ideal for two areas of home entertainment: high-definition movies and video games. In fact, the Blu-ray format got its first boost from the Sony Playstation 3, which uses the BRD player.blu-ray It is important to know that Blu-ray discs are not interchangeable with regular DVDs. In order to play a BRD, you must have a Blu-ray player and a high-def television (HDTV). To take full advantage of the video and audio capabilities, you need other equipment as well, including special cables. A Blu-ray player will also play regular DVDs.

For the non-gaming consumer, Blu-ray is all about high-def movies on a high-def television. The increased clarity and sharpness of a high-def picture is unmistakable, especially when viewed from a closer distance or on a larger screen. The high capacity of the BRD also means that they can hold more stuff, like more commentary, deleted scenes, interactive content, alternate endings, different audio tracts, etc.

In recent times, standard DVD players have been improved with a technology called upscaling. This process is specifically designed to help regular DVDs look better on an HDTV.

At the present time, Blu-ray players and movies carry a premium purchase price. Some would say the price is prohibitive for the average consumer. The real question is whether the increased quality of the picture is worth the high price.

When home video moved from VHS tape to DVDs, the jump in quality was so remarkable that consumers immediately made the switch in vast numbers. Movie enthusiasts were willing to re-purchased their favorite films on DVD. The jump in quality from a standard DVD with upscaling on an HDTV to a Blu-ray disc on an HDTV may not have the same impact, especially when you consider the premium costs.

Some analysts doubt that Blu-ray will ever become ubiquitous in home entertainment. They believe that high-def movies downloaded from the Internet will overtake it before the BRD hardware costs drop to an acceptable level. Nevertheless, if you decide to go with Blu-ray, DVD rental programs like Netflix and Blockbuster give you a better option for viewing high-def movies on your HDTV without the cost of purchasing the discs.

Like other optical media, Blu-ray disc players and burners can be installed in computers. Again, the high price of the hardware and the blank discs puts them out of range for most home users, but if the price comes down, they may become an option for external storage or as part of your backup plan.


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