Saturday, December 02, 2006

What's Blu-ray?

Who's asking: Mike Clements, W. Gardiner, ME

This question came up at the movies last night, when a preview trailer advertised the availability of Talladega Nights on DVD, PSP and Blu-Ray. (We saw Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny. To my kids and godchildren I say: this movie is not appropriate for you. If you do see it -- which I'm telling you not to -- do not think for one minute that I understood half the jokes or thought any of it was funny. Go see Happy Feet instead. Thank you.)

Neither Mike nor I had ever heard of it, but apparently Blu-ray is the next big thing in home video technology. Blu-ray discs (BD) are written to be read by blue-violet lasers, instead of the red lasers used to read standard DVDs and CDs. The blue-violet light has a shorter wavelength, which allows data to be packed more tightly on a Blu-ray disc than on a DVD. Therefore, Blu-ray is the emerging technology for high-definition videos. Blu-ray discs can hold more than five times as much data as a DVD -- up to 25GB of data on a single layer disc, and up to 50GB of data on a double-layer disc. Blu-ray discs are not the same as high-definition DVDs (HD-DVDs), which use a different technology.

Blu-ray drives are not yet available for PCs, but that's planned for the future. The electronic companies are manufacturing Blu-ray machines that can also play DVDs and CDs, so if this technology takes off, you won't have to replace your existing library. Seven of the eight major movie studios are now releasing videos in Blu-ray format as well as in DVD.

I'm not rushing out to buy one, though. For those who are considering it, I have one word: MiniDisc.

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