Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD) is the name of a next-generation optical disc format. The name Blu-ray is derived from the underlying technology, which utilizes a blue-violet laser to read and write data. The name is a combination of "Blue" (blue-violet laser) and "Ray" (optical ray). The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. Over 9 hours of high-definition (HD) video can be put on a 50GB disc. If you have standard-definition (SD) video content, you can fit about 23 hours on the same size 50 GB disc.
Blu-ray discs are not just for high-definition video. Blu-ray also supports greater audio quality as well. These include Linear PCM, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD as well as DTS, and DTS-HD.
In addition to the greater video and audio quality, the extra storage capacity also means there will be plenty of room for additional content and special features. This combined with the new BD-J (Java) interactivity layer adopted by Blu-ray will bring the menus, graphics and special features to a whole new level. The advanced interactivity combined with the networking features of Blu-ray will also allow content producers to support new innovative features such as downloading extras, updating content via the web, and watching live broadcasts of special events.
At first glance, Blu-ray and DVD discs look the same. What you don't see is within that shiny plastic disc. Here are some key differences between Blu-ray and a standard DVD. The first major difference is disc storage capacity. A Blu-ray disc can store 25GB on a single layer and 50 GB on a dual layer disc. Compare that to 4.7 GB on a single layer and 8.5 GB on a dual layer standard DVD. As stated previously, this storage capacity is needed to handle the higher resolution 1920x1080 (1080p) HD content. The standard resolution of a DVD is only 720x480. Also, to handle the higher resolution video, the data transfer rate is almost 5 times that of a standard DVD. Not only is Blu-ray capable of handling HD video, it offers a level of interactivity not found on a standard DVD.
Should you upgrade to Blu-ray? If you've have HD content or have ever seen high-definition (HD) video on an HDTV, then you know just how incredibly sharp the picture is and how vivid the colors are. In fact, HD offers five times the amount of detail compared to standard-definition (SD). This is where Blu-ray comes in. Blu-ray satisfies the storage capacity needs of HD. Thanks to the greatly enhanced HD video and audio quality as well as the advanced interactivity and networking features, Blu-ray represents a huge leap forward in the DVD viewing experience and will offer consumers an unprecedented HD experience.