What’s Next After Blu-Ray?

I was in a Sony store last night. Walking through the mall, I was lured in by the glossy TV screens and the idea of potentially making the move from DVD to Blu-Ray. I’ve never owned an Blu-Ray player and, to be honest, have been somewhat skeptical whether Blu-Ray will quickly replace the ubiquitous DVD format.

The sales rep. that chatted me up was, unsurprisingly, enthusiastic about the quality that Blu-Ray delivers. This same salesperson also told us that we should expect to pay $60 for an HDMI cable. Ouch.

Nevertheless, I didn’t walk home with a Blu-Ray player. But I did start doing some reading. Are retailers pushing Blu-Ray players on their customers to support the new format? Can an up-converting DVD player suffice for now? And the even bigger question: what’s next after Blu-Ray?

My intuition tells me that the USB Flash Drive format may be a viable alternative. We already have Flash Drives which can hold ample data. To put it in perspective, a standard DVD holds 4.7 GB of data, a Blu-Ray disk holds 25GB (or 50GD if dual-layer). USB Flash Drives have come down in price and gone up in capacity. If you really need the space, you can even get them as large as 256GB, more than five times the storage capacity of a double layer Blu-Ray disk. Optical disk readers, e.g. Blu-Ray, DVD and CD players, are inherently fragile and sensitive to heat, condensation, and dust. USB Flash is more robust, and certainly more portable.

So the question remains, what’s next after Blu-Ray? Will it be a new optical disk technology, such as Holographic Versatile Disk (HVD). Or will it be a type of card or portable thumb drive? And don’t forget, there’s also the possibility that we may soon just be downloading all of our data heavy content from the cloud, e.g. like renting movies via iTunes.

Any bets on the future of Blu-Ray?

7 comments ↓

#1 Jordan Kettner on 11.26.09 at 2:51 pm

I have followed exactly the same thought process. But I think that it goes one step further than a USB flash drive.

I think that interfaces like Apple TV and other home theater hard drive systems will take over. Buy your movies online and automatically sync to your laptop, desktop, and TV hard drive. Or as bandwidth allows have it all stored on a personal movie server and stream it to your computer, tv, or phone on demand.

This technology already exists, but in my opinion it is only being slowed down by the maximum allowable adoption rate.

#2 admin on 11.26.09 at 10:11 pm

Good point. We’ve got companies like Apple and Blockbuster that have invested in the online distribution channel. Assuming that our devices can talk to the ‘cloud’, we may not need anything portable at all. Well, at least not a portable device just for storing data.

#3 Chris on 01.31.10 at 12:17 am

OMG. Hilarious comparisons. We can’t use usb flash drives for movies because the video can’t be accessed fast enough from that little stick. If you insisted on using a flash drive, you would have to install the 50+GB movie on your disk player first and then play it from the player, which would take time that no one wants to deal with. Then that would mean that the player would need a massive hard drive. And I’m not even going to start with the copyright issues from installing a movie on your hard drive and potentially giving them away to thousands of other people. The future is no disk at all. In the future, your player will receive a network similar to cable tv or satellite. If you bought the movie, your data will be stored at a far away facility ready to broadcast it to you whenever you select it from your menu.

#4 Marcus Poulin on 05.23.10 at 9:48 pm

Probably eventually something Plasmonic and into the Yottabyte ranges and that is certainly needed.

CD is 780 nanometers and 670 MB of storage

DVD is 650 nm and 4.7 GB

Blu-Ray 405 nm 25 to 50 GB

So imagine down to 30 or 40 nanometer chip features with surface wave plasmons and encoding down to that level and using an attosecond to encode the data?

#5 Kevin on 09.21.10 at 7:45 am

A lot of you have said that you believe the future is direct download. I am not so sure the public will go for that as being their only option. I think you all underestimate the desire to own a hard copy. Direct download is limited, you have tons of digital rights limitations, you can’t resell the media or lend it out to a friend.

#6 Derek on 10.04.10 at 3:24 pm

Again, we’re not talking necessarily about tomorrow for the change. Digital rights will eventually be the initial rights. Eventually. As far as download, people don’t care about downloading, they simply don’t trust that their information is truly safe if it’s beaming across a network.

Hypothetic: A handheld transfer module (card or similar) for media shopping in person with built in banking. Straight download for home purchase (online).

Any way they do it, people won’t want their “property” housed on servers. If the server gets attacked, hacked, or goes down… think of the potential outcry.

Just thinking out loud.

#7 Lamini on 04.22.11 at 1:25 pm

I, for one, am sick of the buzz word “Cloud”. Like its something new, like we haven’t already been using it for a couple decades. I am so sick of depending on internet or LAN connectivity in order to achieve any connectivity. Sick because all the pop-ups, ads, bandwidth issues inherent to everyone else hogging up resources and just sharing in general. I pay this much dollars not so I can share and be limited because of others actions and/or limitations. You can keep the “cloud”, and I’ll stick to whats been working, my own equipment. No one can get any work done while waiting for the network to come back up after an outage. The more we allow these online services, the more we say its OK to put up with advertisements, advertisements that take up resources, mine and theirs, multiplied by millions. Not even going to talk about adult advertisements that kids can see.

I’ll stick to whatever does not depend on an internet connection, the digital salesmen, etc, if I have a choice.

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