HD DVD & Blu-Ray

It’s worth remembering though that the next generation of optical storage will have two uses, just like the previous two generations. The first use, as already mentioned, is as an entertainment distribution medium, but the other is as a data storage medium. The computer industry has always made use of optical media for storing and distributing data, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen with Blu-ray and HD DVD. In fact I’ve recently reviewed a Sony notebook - the VAIO VGN-AR11S - with an integrated Blu-ray drive, and believe me, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But here’s where things get a little complicated. Obviously for data storage, the higher capacity the better, which puts Blu-ray in the driving seat right? Well you’d think so, but with both Intel and Microsoft backing HD DVD, it’s not going to be that simple.

The answer to every consumer’s dream would be a drive/recorder that can use both formats, but although there has been much talk around this subject, nothing has been officially agreed yet. However, the good news is that Ricoh has recently announced a laser technology that will read both formats, which is a definite step in the right direction. But I really don’t think that it’s technology that’s standing in the way of unified hardware, more the millions of pounds spent on marketing each format.

You can expect to see lots of Blu-ray and HD DVD hardware start to appear over the coming months. It will no doubt be very expensive, and the chances are that the early adopters will carry the burden while manufacturers try to claw back some of their R&D costs.

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