Blu-Ray Technology

“It [technology] has surely reduced the world to a global village, greatly reducing distances between people and nations” (How Does Technology . . ., 2009, ¶ 1).

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During June 2006, even though only total of 24 Blu-ray movies were available at that time, stores advertised and sold the first Blu-ray DVD player, Samsung’s BD-P1000, for $1,000. In the article, “Blu-Ray or HD-DVD? A format battle rages for supremacy over the new generation of high-definition DVD Players,” Johnson (2006) explains that “Blu-ray was jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association, a group of the world’s leading consumer electronics, personal computer, and media manufacturers” (Johnson, 2006, p. 82). Its future, albeit, as well as the future of HD DVD, the contemporary contender for next generation digital video players appeared unclear, Consequently, electronics manufacturers waged fierce battles in their war to determine whether the Blu-ray or HD-DVD format would the win dominate the market.

In addition to Samsung, supporters of the Blu-ray included Apple, Dell, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Sharp, and Sony. Along with Toshiba, Microsoft, NEC, and Sanyo backed the HD-DVD Toshiba. Johnson (2006) reported that both Blu-ray or HD-DVD offered ” high-resolution pictures and sensational sound, along with pop-up onscreen menus, picture-in-a-picture features, and the ability to change languages or scenes” (p. 82). During 2006, Blu-ray offered an enhanced scene search function HD-DVD did not provide; implementing a clickable menu of the actors and scenes as well as the scenes in which they appeared. A significant selling point for HD-DVD during 2006, however, gave Toshiba a different kind of edge in the war to attract buyers when it released a pair of HD-DVD players: The HD-A1 ($499) and the HD-XA1 ($799); prices relatively higher than standard DVD players, nevertheless, significantly less than expensive than Samsung’s Blu-ray version.

Competing and incompatible aptly describe Blu-ray and HD DVD, two recently invented high-definition video storage and playback formats technological inventions that have historically battled for completion; each stoically remaining incompatible with the other. In the article, “Digital Video Update: YouTube, Flash, High-Definition,” Godwin-Jones, (2007) assert that during 2007, even though players for both formats for Blu-ray and HD DVD had officially been released, consumers did not rush to purchase them for two reasons. One: The initial costs related to each format proved expensive. Two: Consumers determined to wait and see whether Blu-ray or DVD would win the “war” as they battled to convince customers their format constituted the best buy. The Blu-ray Disc, also known as Blu-ray or BD, consists of dimensions identical to a standard CD or DVD. In the article, “Comdex computer course kit: Windows Vista with Microsoft Office 2007, Gupta (2008) points out that primary uses for Blu-ray include high-resolution video and pictures and storing massive volume of data. “A dual layer Blu-ray Disc can store 50 GB, almost six times the capacity of a dual layer DVD” (Gupta, p. 15). Benefits of both Blu-ray and HD-DVD are that they possess larger storage capacity and higher quality video than DVD. The interactive programming which both formats offer constitutes another feature language professionals of the high definition video formats find particularly appealing. Godwin-Jones, (2007) explains:

Blu-ray uses Blu-ray Java Interactivity (BD-J), while HD DVD features iHD. iHD offers a shallower learning curve than BD-J, as it combines fairly well-known technologies, namely CSS, JavaScript and XML. BD-J represents an easier transition for Java programmers; it also provides more options for customization through a full-fledged programming environment. Its use also allows programs to run on any Blu-ray player, whether it is a drive on a computer, in a game console, or in a stand-alone player. (Godwin-Jones, 2007, High-definition video archives Section, ¶ 2)

In 2010, one could purchase a Blu-ray player for approximately pounds 200 in England or for approximately $319.86 in the United States. Online, one could purchase this player for as little as pounds 90. One could buy a DVD player for pounds 90 or $143.97. In the newspaper article, “Blu-Ray to the future; format makes the most of new releases,” Fulton (2010), purports that similar to DVD, Blu-ray constitutes an optical disc. The blu-ray, however, stores 10 times more data than the DVD and reflects resolution six times higher than that of DVD. This in turn gives the viewer better color, detail, and sound quality; in addition to a number of other extra perks. Two years prior to the official release of Blu-ray, a monthly newsletter published by Home networks (2004), predicted that Blu-ray would become the preferred choice for its type technology in the future. The name, Blu-ray, the article explained, relates to the blue lasers that transmit the signals. These rays proved to possess more storage power than the red rays carrying DVD transmissions. According to Blu-ray FAQ (2011), reportedly the world’s largest Blu-ray dedicated site as well as one of the largest online home theater sites, the underlying technology of Blu-ray, utilizing a blue-violet laser to read and write data, gave Blu-ray its name. As a combination of “Blue’ (blue-violet laser) and ‘Ray’ (optical ray). . ., [according] to the Blu-ray Disc Association the spelling of ‘Blu-ray’ is not a mistake, the character ‘e’ was intentionally left out so the term could be registered as a trademark” (Blu-ray FAQ, Section 1.2). The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of leading consumer electronics, personal computer and media manufacturers; currently with more than 180 member companies from throughout the world developed the Blu-ray Disc format. Table 1 portrays the differences between Blu-ray and DVD.

Table 1. Comparison of the Parameters of Blu-ray and DVD (Blu-ray FAQ, Section 2.4).




Storage capacity

25 GB (single-layer)

50 GB (dual-layer)

4.7GB (single-layer)

8.5GB (dual-layer)

Laser wavelength

405 nm (blue laser)

650 nm (red laser)

Numerical aperture (NA)



Disc diameter

Disc thickness



Protection layer

Hard coating





Track pitch



Data transfer rate (data)

Data transfer rate (video/audio)

36.0Mbps (1x)

54.0Mbps (1.5x)

11.08Mbps (1x)

10.08Mbps (<1x)

Video resolution (max)

Video bit rate (max)

1920 x 1080 (1080p)


720 x 480/720 x 576 (480i/576i)


Video codecs





Audio codecs

Linear PCM

Dolby Digital

Dolby Digital Plus

Dolby TrueHD

DTS Digital Surround


Linear PCM

Dolby Digital

DTS Digital Surround




How Blu-ray Works

In the information published from the seminar, “Blu-Ray Disc,” Ahlawat (2011) explains that the Blu-ray Discs include pits, which comprise spiral grooves extending from the center of the disc to its edges. Bumps constitute the other sides of these edges. The track pitch depicts the distance connecting the two tracks (of pits) on the surface of the disc. The Blu-ray Disc stores digitally encoded data in pits. In addition:

Discs store encoded video and audio information in pits – spiral grooves that run from the center of the disc to the edges.

A laser reads the other sides of these pits to play the movie or program that is stored on the disc.

The more data that is contained on a disc, the smaller and more closely packed the pits must be.

The smaller beam focuses more precisely, enabling it to read information recorded in pits that are only 0.15 microns long. (Ahlawat, 2011, p. 19)

Figure 1 compares the optical disc data layer and density comparison diagram of the CD, the DVD, HD-DVD, and the Blu-ray Disc.

Figure 1. Optical Disc Data Layer and Density Comparison Diagram (Blu-ray Disc, 2006, p. 5).

Fulton (2010) emphasizes that although the transition from DVD to Blu-ray may not appear as dramatic or as massive as the differences noted in the conversion from video tape to DVD — the distinction does exist. Colors appear more vibrant and sounds like explosions and gunfire in vibrate with life. Blu-ray also reportedly simulates 3D. As those producing Blu-ray as well as other comparable media formats continue to develop competing and incompatible products, the war to win customers in the market place will continue. Technology like Blu-ray will continue to figuratively broadcast that and also literal wars; reducing the world to a global village, at times reducing some of distance separating people and nations. At other times, however, the distance relived in this media format may separate people and nations even more.

II: Impact of Blu-ray Technology

“Technology has a tremendous influence on society in that

it affects every aspect of people’s social existence;

from the way we communicate with each other to the way we carry out monetary transactions to the ferocity with which we wage wars”

(How Does Technology . . ., 2009, ¶ 1).

In Los Angeles, California on December 30, 1956, the CBS evening news broadcasted their news production, Douglas Edwards and the News, utilizing the Videotape Recorder (VTR), at that time, a new technology in the broadcasting industry. In the book, Communications & multimedia technology, Andrews (2008) explains: “The VTR allowed networks to broadcast their news at any time that they wanted. . . . [All] news broadcai1s were live to this point” (p. 3).

The fact that news productions originated front either Los Angeles or New York and was later transported to various locations in the U.S. comprised a problem for viewers receiving the news at inconvenient times. The means the news production crews utilized could not compensate for the four diverse time zones across the United States.

Viewers on the west coast would see news at 3 p.m. that stations in New York had broadcast at 6 p.m. previously. The VTR permitted broadcasters to videotape the news and then rebroadcast it at 6 p.m. During this era, delayed playback and storage proved to be the most significant advances in media. Prior to the invention of magnetic videotape, “the news industry relied heavily upon film tor storage and playback of images, In fact, the national news used delayed playback with film” (Andrews, 2009, p. 4). Producers would aim a film camera toward a television monitor during the actual broadcast of the national news. After the broadcast ended, the producer would then deploy the film to be developed, hang it to dry, and then load the film for use two hours later. This process proved to excessively time consuming. Often, even when the film dried on time, the picture quality appeared horrible.

Magnetic audio tape developed in the early 1950s permitted radio show producers to tape shows at an earlier lime and play them back later. This was not yet available in television at this time. Radio producers, however, could edit the best takes together to produce a better show. During 1956, the Ampex Corporation presented its first commercial VIR (the Mark IV) that would record black and white format. As the television industry still did not possess the means to edit videotape as producers in radio industry, television show producers continued to record shows live to tape. In 1958, a method to edit videotape, known as mechanical editing, was established. Identical concepts initially employed in film editing proved applicable to editing. To edit film, the editor spliced the segment in the videotape to be altered with a razor blade. He then used splicing tape to reassemble the film. Even though this crude, inaccurate proved time consuming, it permitted the television industry to record shows in segments to and spliced them together later (Andrews, 2009).

By the 1960s, videotape was considered as a legitimate production medium. Next steps in videotape editing transitioned into mechanical editing and then electronic editing. In 1967, the Electronic Engineering Company (EECO) of California developed a time-code system; allocating each video frame an eight digit time-code; measured in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. Figure 2 portrays a visual representation of the Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). SMPTE Time-Code system, a format used in motion picture editing and for digital video editing on computer systems (Andrews, 2009).

Figure 2. Depiction of SMPTE Time-Code System (Andrews, 2009, p. 5).

The time-code system permitted editors to access particular individual points on the videotape for frame accurate editing. By 1970, SMPTE adopted the Time-Code system as an industry standard. In 1967, the video disc could handle 30 seconds of color video. These segments could then be played back in slow, fast, or still motion. “The first videotaped made for television movie was produced in 1972 and was called Sandcastles. The production of this movie depended solely upon video cameras and videotape. Even the editing was done using videotape” (Andrews, 2009, p. 5). This depicted the first use of a computer to edit video. The contemporary media format war regarding control of the market started with the legendary VHS vs. Beta war, the media format war that transpired during the 1970s. Another ongoing war relating to media format relates to industry standards. Panasonic released the first DVD home recorder in November 2000. “Technology companies always seem to have a hard time agreeing on industry standards. Currently, a few major differences exist between the Blu-ray and the HD DVD player. Blu-ray remains the most expensive with fewer available titles as they can store 50GB of high definition information. HD DVD, which can store 30GB of high definition information cost less and offer more titles. (Andrews, 2009). LG constitutes the only company capable of playing both Blu-ray and HD DVD.

Environmental Issues

Initially, when CD technology entered the market, some reported it to not only constitute a permanent storage solution but also indestructible. In the book, Building a digital forensic laboratory: Establishing and managing a successful facility, Jones and Valli (2008) assert that in time, albeit, as occurs with new technologies as well as other products and services, sales hyperbole and physical reality intersect. Also, in time, new technology, like Blu-ray to CD and DVD, regularly surpasses current technology.

Even though optical storage media, like Blu-ray, constitutes one of the best solutions currently available for long-term archival storage for digital forensics, a common problem that evolves with this firm of technology involves the ability to accurately estimate the media’s longevity. As occurs with magnetic tapes, the layers used for recording of data on optical media prove susceptible to the perils of oxidization. A contemporary industry standard purports that “it takes five years for CD or DVD media to start to deteriorate, delaminate, rot or give trouble. This figure has reemerged at various tunes since the discovery of the issues related to the deterioration of the recording layers” (Jones & Valli, 2008, p. 145). This concern constitutes a critical issue with currently published standards to help estimate the longevity of CD media (ISO 18921 and 18927). These merely depict models, albeit, for one to estimate the media’s longevity. When one loses only one bit of data in a digital recording of a song, the results prove relatively minor. For digital forensics, however, or in other highly critical uses of accurate data, a one-data-bit change could invalidate crucial results.

Te quality of the physical media production relates to and comprises a major determining factor regarding the issue of optical media longevity. Therefore, ensuring that one purchases the best quality media in optical drives for archiving data proves critical. “The other critical factor is adequate environmental control to reduce temperature change, eliminate humidity, and reduce exposure to UV light. The optimal temperatures and humidity levels are the same as for conventional IT equipment” (Jones & Valli, 2008, p. 145). One can reduce levels of UV light by merely making a point to store the media away from sources of direct UV light; preferably wrapping or storing the optical media in a container that eliminates light. Current knowledge contends that if properly stored, good quality media formats can last approximately 20 to 50 years.

Challenges and changes relating to media format like Blu-ray confirm that throughout time, technology has tremendously influenced and continues to impact people’s lives. Those influences range from the way individuals communicate with each other in public as well as in private to the way they transact monetary transactions to the ferocity with which they not only wage wars but recount the news about those wars.

III: Prospectives

“The fetishizing of Blu-ray’s superior image quality is running up against the lure of the cloud and the convenience promised by portable media on smaller, handheld devices”

(Macaulay, 2010, Here are a few . . . Section, ¶ 8).

Perceptions Regarding Blu-ray

Apple, Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung, and Sony currently back Blu-ray, the media format designed to support always-on Internet connectivity and fascilitate regular updates of programs as well as peer-to-peer and server-client communications. Major movie studies, however, differ regarding support for the competing standards of Blu-ray and HD DVD. The fact the Sony game console, “Playstation 3, incorporates Blu-ray capabilities [, however,] does provide some market penetration for that format” (Godwin-Jones, 2007, High-definition video archives Section, ¶ 1). The exact extent developers will expand easy-to-use authoring tools to facilitate authoring of the interactive capabilities of Blu-ray disc formats cannot be predicted. It appears likely, albeit, some language professionals will start to consider the possibility of embedding annotations and user interactivity in video presentations, including, but not limited to documentaries, feature films, or custom-produced video.

Criterion, and a number of brand leaders, are reportedly counting on Blu-ray and projecting they can leverage their cultural cachet to induce customers to re-purchase their favorite films in Blu-ray format. This contemporary “trend toward nonphysical media may have other consequences having to do with our ideas of just what a film is” (Macaulay, 2010, Here are a few . . . Section, ¶ 8). Whether film comprises something that ought be owned or, instead, remixed and manipulated also merits deliberation.

To create Blu-ray versions of films, movie studios digitize directly from the original film print. Consequently, a re-mastered Blu-ray will replicate the original quality of a film that much closer than a DVD. For the foreseeable future, Blu-ray will likely continue to constitute the maximum resolution widely available for personal use. Dean and Cage (2010) further explain: The quality of the film scanners used to convert film to a digital format has improved dramatically in the past few years. That gives mastering artists more to work with when they apply tools to even out film grain and remove fading, film cuts and other damage that befalls elderly prints. As a result, . . . [one will] see brighter, clearer colors, less variance in quality between scenes, and a sharper image. Of course, sometimes the mastering is so good that it exposes flaws in the original film. (Dean & Cage, 2010


Some consumers strongly rebel against a number of the constraints built into the disc formats on usage as well as harsh remedies some companies build into to this media format. These counters include a possible player mechanism that “self-destructs” when one plays a tampered. Individuals interested in personally creating high-definition video and delivering the finished product of to one of the new generation of optical discs can utilize a number of camcorders presently marketed. One can also now purchase writable Blu-ray and HD DVD drives. One extremely controversial aspect of the new optical disc formats relates to a new digital rights management (DRM). DRM depicts a process integrated into both Blu-ray and HD DVD, albeit in significantly different ways. Nevertheless, producers of both formats strive for the identical goal of restricting individuals from illegally ripping and mass producing copies. In the process of incorporating diverse strict DRM devices and measures like a digital watermark in the case of Blu-ray, designers of the formats have created challenges to constrain any individual other than those in and professional video houses from producing high-definition discs that play without problems (Godwin-Jones, 2007).

The FCC establishes or declines to set standards for the media industry. According to Werbach (2009): Regulatory questions regarding interoperability standards “concern whether to mandate a standard and which standard to pick. The FCC chose to set a standard for FM radio and analog mobile phones, but declined to do so for AM stereo or ‘second-generation’ digital mobile phones” (Werbach, Government and the standards process Section, ¶ 9). Decisions such as these evolve from the determination as to whether the market, if left to its own volition will produce standards that nurture beneficial network effects.

Video codecs Blu-ray currently supports include the following:

MPEG-2 – enhanced for HD, also used for playback of DVDs and HDTV recordings.

MPEG-4 AVC – part of the MPEG-4 standard also known as H.264 (High Profile and Main Profile).

SMPTE VC-1 – standard based on Microsoft’s Windows Media Video (WMV) technology. (Blu-ray FAQ, 2011, What video codecs . . .Section, ¶ 1).

The identification of the above reported the Blu-ray supported video codecs only indicates that all Blu-ray players and recorders must support playback of these video codecs. The movie studios maintain their right to decide which video codec(s) they use for their releases. (Blu-ray FAQ, 2011, What video codecs . . .Section, 1.8).

Audio codecs Blu-ray currently supports include the following

Linear PCM (LPCM) – up to 8 channels of uncompressed audio. (mandatory)

Dolby Digital (DD) – format used for DVDs, 5.1-channel surround sound. (mandatory)

Dolby Digital Plus (DD+) – extension of Dolby Digital, 7.1-channel surround sound. (optional)

Dolby TrueHD – lossless encoding of up to 8 channels of audio. (optional)

DTS Digital Surround – format used for DVDs, 5.1-channel surround sound. (mandatory)

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio – extension of DTS, 7.1-channel surround sound. (optional)

DTS-HD Master Audio – lossless encoding of up to 8 channels of audio. (optional) (Blu-ray FAQ, 2011, What video codecs . . .Section, 1.9).

The identification of the above reported the Blu-ray supported audio codecs only indicates that Blu-ray players and recorders must support playback of these audio codecs. The movie studio maintains its right to determine which audio codec(s) they use for their releases. With Blu-ray as with other new technology, due to low production volumes, the first generation of products typically proves to be expensive. As a wide range of Blu-ray products like drives, media, players, recorders, and writers a regular being manufactured, the extensive cost will decrease. Following the mass production of components for Blu-ray products, prices, rapidly decrease. The Blu-ray Disc Associations asserts that ultimately, the overall cost of manufacturing Blu-ray Disc media will not prove to be the any more expensive than producing a DVD. With production volumes increasing, the production costs of Blu-ray regularly decrease and ultimately become comparable to DVDs (Blu-ray FAQ, 2011). With the demise of the obsession of Blu-ray’s superior image quality, the lure of the convenience portable media on smaller, handheld devices looms stronger. The exact extent developers will expand to enhance Blu-ray disc formats, albeit, just as the outcome of the Blu-rays quest to win the war in media and capture the marketing realm – cannot be 100% predicted.

IV: Technological Trends

“Blu-ray won its own format war, vanquishing HD DVD as the hi-def disk format of choice.

But will it be the cash cow on the studio horizon, or is it already being rendered obsolete?”

(Macaulay, 2010, Here are a few . . . Section, ¶ 8).

During its short history, Blu-ray has subjugated HD DVD, winning its own format war as the hi-def disk format of choice. In the article, “Rewind,” (Macaulay 2010) asserts that the assumption proclaims that Blu-ray will ultimately replace DVDs. Blu-Ray format “has received broad support from the major movie studios as a successor to today’s DVD format. In fact, seven of the eight major movie studios (Disney, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) have released titles in the Blu-ray format” (Will Blu-ray replace . . . Section, ¶ 1). A number of studios have also proclaimed they planned to release new feature films on Blu-ray Disc day-and-date with DVD, as well as a constant slate of catalog titles each month. In the book, Scientific data management: Challenges, technology, and deployment, Shoshani and Rotem (2009) explain that Blu-ray has been locked in a multiyear battle with HD DVD to capture the digital video market, but that Blu-ray has won the battle. Shoshani and Rotem further explain:

The much higher storage capacity of this technology is largely enabled by the availability of solid-state blue lasers. The much shorter wavelength of blue light can be focused to a much smaller point size on the disk medium. The specific and design for this technology includes plans to expand a single disc to 100-200 GB by simply defining new tracks. Current drives are capable of 1x – 16x speeds providing anywhere from 6 MB/s to 16 MD/s. The specification allows for up to 35 MB/s. These are substantial improvements over previous generation optical storage, but still not competitive with magnetic storage. (Shoshani & Rotem, 2009, p. 21)

Future Trends The physics of far-field diffraction impose fundamental limits regarding their traditional optical storage technologies. This indicates that the wavelength of light used in the optical drive determines of the amount of data stored on a two-dimensional disc. To increase the amount of data on the disc requires new optics with smaller wavelengths (blue and ultraviolet light). This proves challenging as physical limitations constrain how tiny optics can become. In regard to future possibilities in the realm of media, Shoshani and Rotem (2009) explain that holographic storage promises solutions that eliminate or reduce the far-field to defer action and limitations by use of a variety of techniques capable of utilizing the entire volume of available media. A holographic storage, albeit, continues to struggle with bringing a product to the market. This makes it unclear regarding when or whether the physical limitations of optical media will be overcome. Scaling up the performance of disk technology for server-class systems increasingly becomes more expensive. Composite technologies embody the same spirit as commodity clusters attempt to achieve the performance and reliability goals of specialized proprietary hardware using clusters of a much a simpler consumer-grade building blocks. In the book, Building a digital forensic laboratory: Establishing and managing a successful facility, Jones & Valli (2008) assert that format wars like the one between Blu-ray and DVD have occurred a number of times I the past. These included the one between VHS vs. Betamax in the video cassette market (noted earlier) and the war in PC between Windows and Macintosh operating systems, another classic example. Prior to Blu-ray technology being launched in the market, Columbia pictures and MGM, both owned by Sony, as well as Disney and Fox studios, committed exclusively to Blu-ray. By late 2005, several other studios including Warner Brothers and Paramount, also pledged their support for Blu-ray as well. Also, as noted earlier, to further strengthen its stance, Sony announced it planned incorporate Blu-ray technology in its next generation PS3 gaming console and its Vaio line of PCs. HP and Dell also indicated they planned the Blu-ray format. Sony licensed the Blu-rayy format to several other consumer electronics’ firms, including Samsung, to increase the supply of Blu-rayy players to stores (Jones & Valli, 2008).

After this time, Sony began to experience a number of challenges and felt forced to delay delivery of itsP3 gaming console by its due date. This sapped some of the momentum regarding Blu-ray. These challenges were augmented by the fact Blu-ray prices almost doubled price of entry level HD DVD players. In mid-2007, Toshiba persuaded Paramount to transition from Blu-ray exclusively back to the HD DVD format’ paying it $150,000,000 to do so. Sony however, claimed Paramount’s defection reflected that it was winning (Jones & Valli, 2008). By late 2007, sales of Blu-rayy DVDs outsold HD DVDS 2 to 1. Sales of the P3, although the P3 arrived late to the market, still sold reasonably well. Sony also cut prices on its standalone blu-rayplayers. During 2008, Warner announced that from that day forth, it would exclusively back blu-ray. A few (five) members of the BDA’s current Board of Directors include:

Apple Computer, Inc.

Dell Inc.

Hewlett Packard Company

Hitachi, Ltd.

G Electronics Inc. (Blu-ray FAQ, Section 1.3).

Macaulay (2010) posed the question regarding the future of Blu-ray: “. . . [I]s it [Blue-ray] already being rendered obsolete? (Here are a few . . . Section, ¶ 8).


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