While meditating on the history of the CD duplication industry, I was reminded of a quote from British statesman Benjamin Disraeli, who once said, "Change is inevitable. Change is constant." Of course ol' Ben was long gone before the days of compact discs, but his words are just as true today as they were then. From floppy discs, to CDs, DVDs, and now to Blu-ray Discs (BD), it seems that change is the only constant in the world of media duplication. To quote Irene Peter, "Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed."
Okay, okay, enough with the quotes! Let’s get right down to it.
As I see it, the transition from DVD to Blu-ray Disc isn't necessarily a big change, or a bad thing. Video and data are still stored on optical discs, which are the same size as a standard CD and DVD. You can still make copies of them in a standalone duplicator tower, such as an Accutower Blu. You can still buy your own blank media and print your own artwork with a Blu-ray publisher, such as Primera’s Bravo SE Blu. Even the new Blu-ray case still has the same basic shape and holds a disc in a plastic case on a center hub. The practice and procedure of duplicating discs is not going to change very much, if at all. So what's all the fuss about Blu-ray, then?
Blu-ray discs have several big advantages over their DVD counterparts, much the same way that CD’s were succeeded by DVD’s. In fact, the motivator for these discs is still entertainment. CD’s were meant to hold a little over an hour’s worth of audio (about as much as people cared to listen to at one time). Then DVD’s came out with the ability to hold about 2 hours of video (again, about as much as people were willing to sit through at one time). Now we have reached the age of High Definition, and guess what, we need a disc to store about 2 hours of HD programming (yep you guessed it, 2 hours is still as much as people are willing to sit through at one time). So basically discs are all about storage, store your music, store your movies, store your HD Sci-Fi movies, you know - the basic needs of life.
When it comes to storage, Blu-ray Discs outshine DVDs by a factor of almost five-to-one (we’ll forget for a moment that the jump from CD to DVD was by a factor of 6½-to-one). Anyway, a single layer DVD holds 4.7 GB of data, whereas a standard Blu-ray disc holds an astonishing 25 GB. At current prices, that works out to about 0.00008 cents per megabyte for DVD and 0.0005 cents per megabyte for Blu-ray. While the difference may not seem substantial, it is important to note that DVD prices have fallen dramatically since they first came out, and Blu-ray prices are poised to do the same.
Another important issue to consider about Blu-ray is that its read/write speed is also improved over DVD, in fact the read/write speeds are vastly different between formats. 1X is measured as the read speed necessary to perform the fundamental task of each format. While 1X for a CD is 150Kb/second (audio) and 1X for a DVD is 1350Kb/second (video), Blu-ray sports a whopping 1X of 3600Kb/second (HD video). This tremendous boost in bandwidth was necessary to pack such massive amounts of data onto a disc, so that you can watch your movies in full HD splendor. For the smoothest playback and the best picture, it's not hard to see which format has the advantage.
If you're not convinced that Blu-ray is worth the investment, consider the cost of business lost by falling behind the public demand for HD content. With the Digital TV standard coming in 2009 and prices on high-definition TV's in freefall, the stage is set for this next-gen media to take the spotlight. The popularity of Sony's Playstation 3 and other combination Blu-ray/DVD and Blu-ray/HD-DVD players are doing wonders for electronics retailers as well.
Content producers who are still not ready to step up to the new hardware can breathe easy knowing that Blu-ray duplication services are now available from CDROM2GO. As prices on hardware and media continue to fall and consumers further embrace this new technology, one thing is certain, and you can quote The Tech Guy on this: “Change is here, change is Blu, I like nachos, don’t you too?”