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Blu-ray for Data Storage?

Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

Our shop has been waiting for the war between HD DVD and Blu-ray to end before we adopt a high-capacity optical disc format for our archives. Now that HD DVD will no longer be produced and Blu-ray is the standard, should we jump in?

You're correct: Blu-ray has won the years-long battle to be the industry standard for high-definition optical discs. After the major movie makers and retailers pulled support for the competing HD DVD format, Toshiba announced that it will discontinue HD DVD. If you can justify the price of a Blu-ray drive and discs, jump right in.

Personally, I'm happy because not only is the war over and a standard has been accepted, but also because Blu-ray is the better format for computer users. Why? Storage capacity, speed and durability.

Storage capacity:
Writable Blu-ray discs store 50GB on each dual-layer disc, with 100GB discs to arrive soon -- Hitachi, TDK and Panasonic have demonstrated 100GB Blu-ray discs. Think of it: if your computer has less than 100GB of data on its hard drive, you could back up all of it to one of these forthcoming Blu-ray discs. (Side note: If you're into video, you'll appreciate that one 100GB disc can hold 18 hours of HDTV video, or 46 hours of standard video.)

Current burners can burn a 50GB disc in 50 minutes, and can also burn DVDs and CDs at high speed. To put that into context, most external hard drives write at about 1GB per minute, so a Blu-ray drive can be about as fast as an external hard drive.

Because of their super-hard coating, Blu-ray discs are many times more durable than today's CDs and DVDs.

Currently, 4x Blu-ray burners are available for under $600, and prices are certain to come down because of the dramatic increase in sales volume that will occur from people who were waiting for the battle to end, and from the people who will be replacing their HD DVD drives with Blu-ray drives. Disc prices are also on their way down: 25GB discs cost as little as $10 now, and 50GB discs cost about $40.

For more details on Blu-ray and HD DVD, see the special report I wrote for Design Tools Monthly at

And by the way, if you recently purchased an HD DVD video player and/or discs, contact your retailer and ask if they'll take them back. Many, including Circuit City, are extending their return policy to maintain customer loyalty.

This question was answered by Jay Nelson, Publisher & Editor, Design Tools Monthly. We love DTM's tips and advice and think you will, too. For a free sample PRINTED issue, contact Design Tools Monthly at 303-543-8400, e-mail, or go to their website:

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