by Staff Writer
Get in on the HD revolution by finding out more about Blu-ray. Blu-ray movies are the wave of the future, so if you want to see your favorite films the way they were meant to be seen, Blu-ray is the only way to go. There are a lot of questions to ask about the format. Take a look below to learn answers to some common questions about Blu-ray.
What is Blu-ray?
Blu-ray discs are the new standard for movies and television shows in high definition. They're high-density optical discs that are the same size as DVDs but have more than five times as much storage capacity. Blu-ray discs achieve this amazing amount of storage capacity because the "grooves" where the information is stored are spaced much closer together than they are on DVDs. DVDs and CDs are read using a red laser, while Blu-ray discs are read with a blue laser, which gives them their name. This blue laser is of a shorter wavelength than the red, which is what allows it to read information that is packed so closely together on the disc. Think of it as the difference between the needle on a turntable and the nearly invisible laser in your CD player.
How is Blu-ray different from HD-DVD?
Blu-ray was beaten to the market by the now defunct rival brand, HD-DVD. The resulting "format war" was reminiscent of the one between VCR and Betamax, with a victory for Blu-ray that was just as decisive as the one for the VCR. In early 2008, Warner Bros. (the last major studio that still released HD content in both formats) announced that it would no longer release films in HD-DVD, switching permanently to Blu-ray. This was great news for people who had held off on buying an HD player for fear of picking the wrong one and ending up with a very expensive paper weight. Now you can rest assured that Blu-ray media is the industry standard.
What is the future of Blu-ray?
Though you're already guaranteed to get the best picture and sound quality as well as in-depth features, the future of Blu-ray holds almost limitless possibilities for the creative minds of the film industry. Some companies have already developed 100 GB quad layered discs, capable of storing over seven hours of HD content, that are playable on existing players. There are even 400 GB, 16 layered discs in development, though they can't be played on existing players; however, this was the same problem facing the developers of the 100 GB disc, so don't rule it out. If that's not enough to whet your appetite, by 2014 it's predicted that 1TB (a terabyte is 1000 GB) will be available, leaving imagination as the only limit for what HD content can be put on one disc. As for the more immediate future, Blu-ray players integrated with HDTVs as well as portable Blu-ray players are scheduled for release as early as late 2009. These convenient products were previously only available for DVDs and should help make switching to Blu-ray even easier.