What is Blu ray?
Blu ray won the DVD-format war.
If you spend any time in your local electronics store, I'm sure you've seen them. Those new movies with the blue packaging. You've probably asked yourself, What is Blu-ray? Blu-ray (blu ray, Blu-ray Disc or BD) is one of two high-definition optical disc formats that until recently were competing to replace the DVD. The other was HD-DVD. That competition was ended with the announcement on February 19, 2008, that Toshiba, the main developer of the HD-DVD was halting all production and development of that format, leaving Blu-ray as the sole heir to the CD and DVD legacy.
How Blu-ray Works
Both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD technologies use a blue laser, hence the name Blu-ray. Both were intended to replace the DVD in the new world of high-definition video, hence the competitor's name HD-DVD. Blue lasers have a much smaller wavelength than red lasers (meaning the beam is thinner). This allows more data to be crammed into the same amount of space. Both formats' discs share exactly the same dimensions as a standard CD and DVD. But because of the smaller beam of light, they carry far more data.
CD's peaked in size (in terms of data storage) at around 700 megs (MB, MegaBytes). DVD's improved on this considerably with up to 4.7 gigs (GigaBytes, GB, or 4,700 megs) on a single-layer disc, and up to 8.54 gigs on a dual-layer disc. By comparison, the HD-DVD held 15 gigs (single layer) or 30 gigs (dual layer) and the Blu-ray holds 25 gigs (single layer) or 50 gigs (dual layer).
The number of American movie titles available on Blu-ray was approaching 500 in February 2008. With the last few studios who were loyal to HD-DVD switching over, that number is sure to skyrocket. There is some speculation within the industry that Blu-ray will only enjoy its victory over HD-DVD for a short period of time and that online downloads will completely replace it. But this is unlikely. While online downloads are growing in popularity, there will always be those like myself who want something physical for their purchase, and it's pretty tough fitting a digital download into nice packaging that you can place on a shelf.
With HD-DVD out of the way, look for Blu-ray to explode in popularity in the next two years and most likely completely replace the DVD within five.
Of course, just as with DVD's, the Blu-ray disc's original purpose seems entirely related to movies. But just as with DVD's once the format is established, you'll begin seeing Blu-ray players and eventually Blu-ray burners in home computers for data storage.