What is Blu-ray? No, it’s not a creature of the deep or any mythical beast. Blu-ray is a third-generation digital media or data storage technology from the Blu-ray Disc Association, an assembly of corporate media and electronics technology leaders. Blu-ray discs are currently competing with HD-DVD to become the new optical disc format. They have much more storage capacities and data transfer speeds than conventional DVD’s and CD’s.
Blu-ray Disc Versus Other Optical Discs
A Blu-ray disc, looks much like any other optical disc, including first-generation CDs, second-generation DVDs, and the competing third-generation HD DVDs.
A Blu-ray disc system uses a blue-violet laser with a wavelength of 405 nanometers to write and read data on the optical disc. This laser is the source of Blu-ray’s name and the technology which differentiates Blu-ray from previous generation optical media. The 405 nanometer blue-violet laser is also used for writing and reading data on third-generation HD DVD discs, which have smaller data storage capacity per layer. Older optical media require a red laser for data storage and retrieval.
Blu-ray Storage Capacity
The Blu-ray disc system uses a shorter wavelength than conventional optical discs (CD systems use a red laser with a wavelength of 780 nanometers whereas DVD systems use the same red laser with a wavelength of 650 nanometers). The shorter wavelength means more precise data recording, which allows more data to be packed on the Blu-ray disc surface than a comparable CD or DVD surface. In fact, a standard single-layer Blu-ray disc can store as much as 25 GB of digital data, more than five times the storage capacity of conventional DVDs. A dual-layer Blu-ray disc can store a maximum of 50 GB of digital data. On the drawing board are quadruple-layer Blu-ray discs with 100 GB digital data storage capacities.
To enjoy the considerable benefits of a Blu-ray disc, one must have a Blu-ray disc player (either standalone or software-based) that supports reading of the Blu-ray disc. Blu-ray video players need to have an MPEG-2 codec (which makes a player capable of playing DVDs and HD DVDs), a VC-1 codec, and an AVC or MPEG-4 codec. Movies stored in Blu-ray discs will use any one of the above-mentioned codecs. One movie can also have more than one codec, as long as each codec used is supported by Blu-ray technology.
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