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?