Blu-ray has had the high-definition market all to itself for quite some time now, yet here we are still talking about the format's adoption rate. That's because pricing, for the most part, has kept BD players out of the living room, but according to Taiwan-based BD player makers, that's about to change. Kind of.
Sources say the average retail price for Blu-ray players will drop from $193 to just $77. Such a significant price drop would surely boost consumer demand, but there's a catch. While prices are coming down, such a dramatic decrease won't occur until 2012, still more than a year away.
On the desktop front, blank media is expected to come down in price as well. By 2012, the average retail price is expected to drop from $5 to $1.50, the same sources say.
There aren't a ton of affordable notebooks out there that come with a Blu-ray drive as a standard accessory. And if sources behind the scenes at makers of optical drives turn out to be true in their predictions, don't expect to see many Blu-ray based notebooks until the second half of 2010.
As has always been the case with Blu-ray, price is the prohibiting factor. According to DigiTimes, a slim-type Blu-ray drive costs about $100, while a slim DVD burner can be had for just $20, or five times less. It doesn't take a math or business major to crunch the numbers and see which one makes more sense.
By the second half of 2010, however, sources say Bu-ray drives are expected to drop. While they didn't say by how much, the general consensus is that you'll be seeing a lot more notebooks equipped with Blu-ray drives than you do today.
In the meantime, there's still the high-end sector, which now includes Intel's Core i7 processors. Toshiba, for example, recently announced the Qosmio X500 series, which sport both a Blu-ray drive and Intel's new mobile Core i7 parts.
For a long while, it seemed as though Plextor was content to fade from memory after ruling the optical market, that is until the company announced a bunch of optical drives last November and a spattering of releases since then. Plextor's back again, this time with a new internal 8X Blu-ray reader and DVD/CD writer combo, the PX-B320SA.
"We're pleased to be able to offer consumers a versatile, multi-feature drive that offers faster Blu-ray read speeds as well as a way to burn data to CD or DVD," said Christine Hsing, Marketing Manager at Plextor. "Additionally, having Cyberlink's BD Suite software included will make it easy for consumers to enhance existing DVD content using the same drive."
Tech specs include reading Blu-ray discs at 8X, DVD±R at 16X, DVD±R DL and DVD+RW at 8X, DVD-RW at 6X, and DVD-RAM at 12X. And in addition to CyberLink software, the drive also comes with Plextor's PlexUTILITIES app.
Plextor says the drive is available now for $179 MSRP.
Last month, Asus shipped its first ever Eee PC netbook to integrate a Super-Multi optical disc drive, a trend which still hasn't caught on full-force. The Eee PC notwithstanding, if you must have a DVD drive with your optical-less netbook, one solution is to buy an external drive, but Century may have a better idea. The company plans to release a netbook stand with a built-in Panasonic DVD drive.
The stand/DVD drive measures 260 x 190 x 19mm and weighs 52g. It supports DVD±R/+RW (8x), DVD±R DL/-RW (6x), DVD-RAM (5x) and CD-R/-RW (24x), and comes with two USB 2.0 ports for good measure. Also included is a small 4cm cooling fan. And according to a rough translation of Century's product page, the stand also looks to incorporate a 2.5-inch bay for a SATA-based HDD or SDD.
Century's multi-functional stand will be available in Japan starting this Friday for $100, CrunchGear reports.
As ultraportable PCs become more powerful and increasingly feature-rich, it might soon be difficult to discern where netbooks stop and standard notebooks begin. Such is nearly the case with Asus' new Eee 1004DN, the first Eee ever to integrate a Super-Multi optical disc drive.
The addition of a CD/DVD burner addresses a common complaint among netbook and potential netbook owners, particularly those who might want to use one as their primary PC (Protip: Don't do it). Other specs on the 1004DN are decidedly more standard-fare and include a 10-inch LED-backlit 1024 x 600 display, Intel's Atom N280 processor (1.66GHz, 512k L2 cache, 667MHz frontside bus), up to 2GB DDR2 memory, Intel GMA 4500M graphis, up to 120GB hard drive, 1.3MP webcam, and 6-cell battery.
I just picked up a new netbook the other day. And you know what that netbook had? A lot of things, but "optical drive" wasn't on the list. So there I sat, staring at a stack of CDs all full of my most critical applications, games, and movies. Then I had a brainstorm: Rather than run down to the local electronics store to buy a lame external optical drive, I figured I would convert all of my optical media and slap it onto one of the external hard drives I have sitting around.
To do that, I turned to a suite of applications to rip, burn, encode, convert, and create all sorts of image files. It was a daunting task at first, but it sure beat shelling out for more hardware. Based on my troubles, I've come up with a list of five of the must-have applications for your CD manipulation needs. And these aren't just a list of applications for new netbook enthusiasts. These free apps have a universal appeal for anyone who's ever had to interact with their optical drive at any point. I would assume that this would make up 99% of all computer users--the one percent being anyone who just bought a new netbook without any kind of secondary system in their house. Whoops!
Click on the link and check out the five free apps for CD manipulation mayhem. Trust me, it's just that exciting.
Earlier this week Lite-On announced a new line of internal DVD writers it says will be the fastest on the market with a 24X rated write speed. The new drives will come in three different versions, with all three sporting Lite-On's SmartErase data erasing feature. Lite-On's fastest model, the iHAS624, will be the only one to come with the company's LabelTag feature, which allows users to create label tags on the data side of the disc.
"PLDS is proud to manufacture the fastest 24X writers in the market, especially with included technologies such as LabelTag," said Christine Hsing, Marketing Manager at PLDS. "LabelTag provides a cost-effective and flexible method for professional disc labeling, a great solution for today’s busy professional, and people on-the-go."
Lite-On says that users can still add data after using its LabelTag technology, which works on any standard recordable media. Two of the drives -- the iHAP424 and iHAS624 -- will also support LightScribe.
The iHAS324 with SmartErase will be available in March, the iHAP424 with SmarErase and Lightscribe by the end of March, and the iHAS624 with SmartEarase, LightScribe, and LabelTag by mid-May. No word yet on pricing.
LaCie's newest Blu-ray burner might as well be called the 'Top Gun' model because the company obviously felt the need for speed when designing it. The newly announced LaCie d2 Blu-ray Drive gooses the burn rating to 8X, or double the speed of its previous high-capacity Blu-ray drive.
"With the doubling of the speed to burn Blu-ray discs, video professionals will be able to spend more time creating content and less time on production," said Christelle Dexet, Multimedia Product Manager for LaCie. "And for those who need to safely store large quantities of information for extended periods of time on secure removable media, the LaCie d2 Blu-ray Drive is an ideal solution."
The external drive supports both USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 and can burn up to 50GB on a single dual-layer BD-R disc. DVD recording checks in at 16X, CDs at 48X, and dual-layer DVD at 8X.
LaCie's d2 Blu-ray burner is available now starting at $450 and comes bundled with Easy Media Creator 10 and Toast 9 Titanium software.
Tired of scratching all of your discs every time you fling them about your desk after an install? Want to pull of your favorite online services--Google Mail, Google Picasa, Amazon S3--directly into Windows explorer, bypassing the need to log into them from a Web site? Want an easy way for compressing the contents of your folders into a single mountable source, and beyond that, a way to mount up to 20 of these at once? It's mount week at Maximum PC's freeware... repository... feature... thing. We're going to take a look at five different programs that will make your optical drive quiver with fear, your Internet connection explode, and your general computing life much easier.
While Blu-ray continues to inch into living rooms amid lower prices, it won't be long until the high definition format becomes a mainstream feature in PCs, says Lite-On. The optical drive maker predicts 2009 as the year BD combo drives are a standard option in new PCs, with BD burners becoming commonplace by 2011.
By Lite-On's count, BD-ROM drives, BD combo drives, and BD burners are already showing signs of significant growth as the total number of global shipments has increased from 700,000 units in 2007 to 1.7 million in the first of 2008 alone.
But it all comes down to price, and OEMs will continue to charge between $100-$200 for BD combo drives in 2009, according to DigiTimes. Lite-On says the price of BD burners is expected to drop to between $50-$100 in 2011.