Sony, among other vendors, co-developed an optical disc format known as Blu-Ray. It is so known because it uses a blue laser to read the optical information from the disk. Because of the wavelength of the laser, it is able to focus to a much smaller degree than a typical red laser. Because if this tighter and smaller focus, the pits etched on the disk are much smaller. As a result of the higher density of data, much more data can be placed onto a Blu-Ray disk as compared to a DVD disk.
The Blu-Ray project is separate from the HD-DVD project. The HD-DVD format was created by the same DVD consortium of companies that created the DVD format. The HD-DVD format uses a similar blue-ish laser light to allow for a higher density format. Until recently, HD-DVD's disk sizes were about half of the Blu-Ray disks. Now, both formats can hold about the same amount of space through multiple layers at about 50GB per disk (give or take).
As a result of both formats being backed by notable large technology corporations, it was inevitable that both groups would give it a valiant effort to have their format adopted as the standard. So far, it's been a toss-up. One format would entice a studio over, but that didn't make the format a shoe-in. The turning point of the war was when Warner Brothers turned to Blu-Ray. Events rapidly spiraled down, for example NetFlix scrapping HD-DVD in favor of Blu-Ray. HD-DVD is currently considered defeated by Blu-Ray.
"Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD), is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of the world's leading consumer electronics, personal computer and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson)."
"HD DVD shares the 12cm diameter and 1.2mm thickness of the current generation of DVD discs, yet is able to deliver eight hours of High Definition video on a dual-layer, single-sided disc. Enhanced interactivity, multi-media functions, secure AACS content protection and the capacity to store ten thousand average MP3 tracks on one disc means that the HD DVD format matches the real-world needs of today’s consumer market. For the IT industry, a double-sided HD DVD-R disc can hold up to 30GBytes of data. For replicators, there is the reassurance that today’s DVDs can be produced on tomorrow’s HD DVD lines."
Note that this HD-DVD information shown above was created in 2005 per the PDF it was derived.
Most discs produced in HD-DVD format are 'combo' disks. This means they contain both HD content and also regular DVD compatible content. Because of this 'combo' format, HD-DVD disks are compatible in both DVD players and in HD-DVD players.
Blu-Ray disks are, however, compatible only with Blu-Ray players only. These disks cannot be placed into a DVD player and play. With Blu-Ray, there is no backward compatibility to DVD like the HD-DVD format.
Both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray have well enough space to accomodate full 1080p resolutions combined with full uncompressed audio. Thus, there is no technical differences in the playback quality.
In the Blu-Ray camp, the most notable player is the Sony PS3. This player is technically a gaming console, but also contains a Blu-Ray player since the PS3 games are distributed on BD-ROM disks (Blu-Ray data disks). As of this writing, the cheapest PS3 is $399.99 for the 40GB hard drive model. The cheapest standalone Blu-Ray player is around $288 (via Nextag).
Also as of this writing, the cheapest standalone HD-DVD player is around $200 (via Nextag) which is still half of the cost of a PS3, but close (~$88 difference) not that far from the cost of a standalone Blu-Ray player. Occasionally, stores may put Blu-Ray or HD-DVD players on sale for substantially cheaper prices as one-day sales or as an incentive.
Buzz Out Loud References
- 662 - HD DVD dies, kills Blu-ray?
- 659 - Microsoft: No means yes
- 658 - Hostile growth hormone
- 650 - Calculus is bogus
- 648 - RIP HD DVD
- 641 - Save Aaron's grandpa's
- Voicemail: The HD-DVDs we got.
- 640 - One less thing
- Email: Real reason Warner went Blu-Ray
- 638 - The Royal Wii
- Xbox 360 could back Blu-ray
- 637 - New U.S. currency: Wii
- Finally, a Blu-ray player that costs less than a PS3: The $350 Philips BDP7200
- Paramount to drop HD DVD?
- Paramount to not drop HD DVD?
- Email: Whither HD VMD?
- 636 - New rule: Press "record"
- Email: HD war better not be over
- 635 - Peace comes to CES
- The party for HD DVD is over, literally
- 612 - Judges gone wild
- HD DVD gets 'community screening' while Blu-ray pulls ahead in Europe
- 609 - Tech turkeys!
- 606 - The Kindle is coming!
- Email: Toshiba A2 HD DVD firmware upgrades unit to 1080p!
- 604 - School daze
- Philips and Lite-on announce a $199 Blu-ray drive
- 601 - Europe gets its day
- Sony CEO sees 'stalemate' in disc fight
- Voicemail: What about ripping HD DVDs?
- Voicemail: HD DVD players "down"convert. Why?
- 600 - TiVo is watching YOU
- Blu-ray's DRM crown jewel tarnished with crack of BD+
- 599 - Et tu, Prince?
- 90,000 HD DVD players sold in one weekend
- 597 - Duh. Google phone
- Kmart says it still supports Blu-ray
- 596 - The good ship "Jollycast"
- Best Buy follows Wal-Mart with $100 HD DVD player
- Email: No HD DVD deals in Oklahoma
- Email: Kmart drops Blu-ray players
- 595 - Has HD DVD won?
- Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player: $100, this Friday, Wal-Mart
- 590 - What's your brain's bandwidth?
- Wal-Mart now selling Toshiba's A2 HD DVD player for $198?
- 589 - The mother of all patents
- Toshiba nixes Xbox 360 with built-in HD DVD rumor
- 587 - Xkcd is awesome
- Toshiba to field HD DVD-equipped Xbox 360?
- 573 - Hard out there for a PMP
- Panasonic: Blu-ray will win the war by New Year's Day