50GB Blu-ray disks aren't exactly what I'd call "cramped", but just in case you thought the existing spec was getting a bit long in the tooth the Blu-ray association has released a new standard today that will bump capacities up to 128GB (write-once) or 100GB (rewritable). The new format which will be called BDXL sounds promising, but unfortunately won't be backwards compatible with older hardware. I suspect this little caveat will hamper its adoption pretty heavily, but is great to see that optical storage isn't dead yet.
Video applications for BDXL aren't exactly clear at this point, but it's unlikely the 3D craze that's sweeping the media industry is to blame. Existing disk capacities seem to be holding up quite well, so it's likely this will be phased in slowly over time without the vast majority of users even noticing. The new disk technology goes three to four layers deep on the disk, and a more powerful laser requirement is the reason you'll need to upgrade to get it.
BDXL is also expected to be phased into PC consumer grade optical drives over time, but I suspect flash drives will continue to suck the wind out of adoption for this as a backup medium.
Recordable Blu-ray media has been expensive, and slow to catch on, but would a bump to 100GB capacities change your mind? New developments made by Sharp could do just that by introducing a blue-violet laser which is able to read triple-layer or even quad-layer Blu-ray disks. Current BD-R single layer disks hold a mere 25GB.
The light put out by the beam is much stronger than traditional readers at 500mW, and it is made possible thanks to an aluminum oxynitride layer that is located squarely between the laser’s crystal and dielectric film which is meant to protect the laser.
In addition to capacity increases, this could also allow for writing speeds of up to 8x across all four layers, making it a much more interesting archiving option for digital packrats. Prices and availability still haven’t been announced yet, but the company describes the technology as “production ready”. At the very least it would be nice to see a new affordable disk option come along to replace those aging 4.7GB DVD’s, which frankly, just don’t cut it size wise anymore.
Are you itching for new recordable disks, or is flash the future of the sneaker net?
Before you get too excited about LG’s combo optical drive, bear in mind that while the GGW-H10NI Super Multi Blue can read both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, it can write to only the former format. Still, this drive offers a degree of flexibility that no other next-gen drive we’ve tested has. You won’t be shut out of watching movies from studios that have allied themselves with just one of the high-def formats. Not surprisingly, this luxury doesn’t come cheap. At $1,200, the Super Multi Blue costs more than your average Blu-ray burner—by as much as $600.