Although USB flash drives have become the most popular way to transport project files between systems, you're probably looking for a cheaper way to distribute presentations, music, photo, or video compilations. For these jobs and others, creating a CD or DVD make more sense. However, there's plenty of confusion at home and the office when it comes to what media to choose and how to write your files.
Read on to discover our ultimate guide to CD and DVD media, burn strategies, and freeware CD and DVD burning programs.
Doubts have been cast on the success of the Blu-ray format ever since it debuted. Initially, the format appeared to be doomed due to a poor adoption rate, thanks mainly to a host of factors, including the PS3’s initial tribulations, popularity of the DVD format, and the steady rise in the popularity of digital downloads.
However, it soon appeared that the tide had turned as PS3’s sales picked up and the rival HD DVD format ran out of steam and met its sorry fate. The latest good news has come in the form of sales data released by research firm Futuresource, which indicates that Blu-ray sales during the ongoing holiday season have been promising.
Another sinister portent for the Blu-ray format happens to be the grim sales picture of the PS3; strong sales of the console surely could have gone a long way in popularizing the format. I expect Blu-ray to share the same mediocre fortunes as the PS3 during the remainder of its lifetime.
Like everyone, Microsoft hates to back a loser. There comes a time though when you have to lick your wounds and suck it up. With the demise of Microsoft backed HD DVD, they are now working on incorporating the new storage option into Windows.
Microsoft is developting a “Windows Feature Pack for Storage” for both Windows XP and Vista. On the Microsoft Connect website they highlight three new technologies each in their own installer for the prerelease beta: Active Storage Platform: This pre-release package enables the Windows platform to restrict access to portable devices (such as a USB Flash Device) via a certificate or password authentication based on the IEEE 1667 standard specification. Image Mastering: API update for Blu-Ray media: This feature enables the Windows platform to do master style optical burning on Blu-Ray media.
Smart Card Drive:: This release provides support for new form factors, such as ICCD/CCID smart cards.
Maybe official Microsoft and Windows support for Blu-ray will help speed adoption rates for the new storage media.
Since Blu-ray won out on the high-definition format war over Toshiba’s HD DVD, high definition on disc has just languished. Blu-ray’s victory has been a hollow one with few people rushing out to replace their trusty old DVD players and DVD collections. The initial assumption that it was the format war that kept adoption of the new standard slow. It turned out to be customers being perfectly happy with standard DVD quality.
Toshiba has been considering it’s next move and has decided DVD is good enough and is jumping on the "upconverting" DVD player bandwagon. They are releasing the XD-E500 DVD player that they says does more than previous models to improve the look of DVDs on high-definition TVs. At a MSRP of $149.99 it is twice as much as regular "upconverting" players, but it is less than half the price of a Blu-ray player.
An Associated Press report said that the XDE player produced a noticeable sharpening of the image over a standard, $70 up-scaling model on side-by-side LCD HDTVs. Toshiba didn't demonstrate the XDE against a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, however. Toshiba did stress that it's not meant to compete with Blu-ray.
Toshiba is playing up to Blu-ray’s marketing weakness, they can’t seem to convince users that there is enough of a difference in between regular Blu-ray and Standard DVD to warrant the expense of upgrading. The appearance of “upconverting” DVD players is only going to further hinder Blu-ray adoption. It might be an inevitability that someday we will have to upgrade. The big question is who will hold out the longest, Blu-ray’s high prices or consumers not wanting to pay those high prices and holding on to standard DVD? Who do you think will win out? My money is on the consumers.
Pioneer has to its credit a $145 Blu-ray player - on sale only in China, perhaps the cheapest BRD player in the world. However, it was a tad watchful during the course of the format war. Now with Blu-ray having emerged victorious, Pioneer is making a deeper commitment to it. It has announced plans to launch Blu-ray recorders by the end of the year in Japan. The recorders will be developed with some help from its minority owner Sharp (14% stake), which is amongst the six Japanese majors currently offering Blu-ray recorders.
It’s no surprise that high-def optical drives are getting less expensive while their specs improve—that’s the trajectory of all emergent technologies—but we are still taken aback by the dramatic strides LG’s GGW-H20LI represents. Just a few months ago, in our September issue, we reviewed this drive’s predecessor, the GGW-H10NI, and not only is its follow-up better in every respect, it’s half the price!
So your DVD burner is getting a little long in the tooth and you’re ready for an upgrade, but you’re not all that keen on adopting next-gen tech. And who can blame you? Even the falling price of hardware doesn’t make up for the relatively slow burn times, costly media, and compatibility issues that plague Blu-ray burners (and the same would be true of HD DVD burners if you could even find them!). Trouble is, you’ve got a brand-new 27-inch LCD that’s just begging to display high-def movies. What’s a consumer to do? Well, you could buy a combo drive—one that lets you read next-gen discs and write data to fast, friendly CD and DVD, like the two models we review this month.
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.