Article by Levi Mckie
As home cinema technology advanced to bring us the DVD in the mid nineties it was not long before the world’s leading consumer electronics manufacturers were looking for a new format that would enable large amounts of data to be stored for viewing high-definition film. Initially, from 2000, there was a battle between the Bluray disc and Toshiba’s HD DVD but by 2008 the Bluray looked set to be the preferred format by the consumer. Today the Bluray Association is represented by almost 200 of the leading consumer electronics manufacturers including computer, video game, film and music companies.
So how does the technology behind Bluray discs work? As mentioned, a Blu-ray disc has the capability to store far more data than your average DVD. A single or dual layer disc can hold between 25GB and 50GB of data and a typical HD feature-length film is around 50GB. Some triple layer 100GB discs and quadruple layer 128GB discs are also available and Pioneer has even managed to increase the storage capacity of their discs to 500GB by using a 20-layer Bluray disc.
The reason that Bluray players are able to read the vast amounts of information stored on the Bluray discs is thanks to the use of a blue-violet laser, from which the name ‘Blu-ray’ is derived. Unlike the red laser used in CD and DVD players the blue-violet laser has a shorter wavelength that enables much more precise readings. This is why it is also possible for your Bluray player to read regular DVDs and in fact when you use a Bluray player to watch DVDs it will improve the quality too by ‘up-scaling’ the image. This means if you invest in a Blu-ray player you do not have to worry about replacing your old DVD collection.
When combined with an HDTV you will really notice the difference in picture quality a Bluray player can bring. Although this high-definition disc format is still relatively new there are lots of affordable Bluray players on the market today offering a range of features including the interactive ‘BD Live’. The price of the discs is also beginning to fall and it is surely only a matter of time before the Blu-ray completely replaces the DVD as the primary format for watching films in your home. At this stage if you are upgrading your home cinema it is not really worth purchasing a DVD player as a Blu-ray player will allow you to watch both DVDs and high-definition Bluray discs.