The hugely hyped format war between next generation media Blu-ray and HD DVD has so far mustered all the real world intensity of an arthritic arm wrestling contest so thankfully all the fuss could be over within six months…
The plaudits for saving us from such a fracture fest could go to technology all-rounder Ricoh as it has announced a new laser capable of playing both formats. The so-far untitled breakthrough works by ingeniously detecting the media format inserted – be it CD, DVD, HD DVD or Blu-ray – and adjusting the beam to read data at the appropriate depth.
For example, CDs store data 1.1mm from the disc surface, DVDs and HD DVDs both store data 0.6mm from the surface (hence their native compatibility) and Blu-ray discs hide their data just 0.1mm from the surface (why there were initial concerns about their durability and how they create extra space to reach higher capacities).
In a statement Ricoh said, "This diffraction device is the first one that is ready for four formats, including BD and HD-DVD. It will make it possible to build players and recorders ready for all formats, which will benefit consumers." Furthermore, the company also claims using a single adjustable laser is a cheaper and less bulky alternative to squashing in separate dedicated HD DVD and Blu-ray lasers.
Despite currently only being operational in a reading capacity, the new technology would nevertheless provide confused consumers with the ideal get out. It would also give warring wingers Toshiba & Sony the collective kicks up the backside they both deserve after apathetic unification talks last year.