Pioneer and Mitsubishi Chemical Media have announced the development of a new type of recordable Blu-Disc (BD-R) that uses an organic dye recording layer, according to CDRinfo. The new disc can be produced using modified CD-R and DVD-R manufacturing equipment, significantly reducing manufacturing costs. The technology is known as “Low-to-High” (LTH) and it is part of the Blu-ray Disc Recordable Format Ver.1.2 specification. The downside is that current Blu-ray drives cannot read the new format at this time, though it is possible that existing drives could support this format with a firmware update.
They’re currently demonstrating a 25GB single-layer disc which can be burned at 1x or 2x speeds. Commercialization of the new format, along with new drives that include LTH support, may begin as early as Spring, 2008. Future plans including bumping the write speeds to 4x, and later 6x, as well as development of a disc using a metal nitride recording layer.
This is good news as it will bring down the costs of burning Blu-ray in the home. And if current drives can be updated to support it, that’s even better news.
Now, I’m sure someone will object to new discs that aren’t fully compatible with existing drives. That’s been a mantra from the HD DVD camp – though it seems to have quieted down some since the bogus 51GB disc announcement. The fact is that neither BD nor HD DVD is ‘finalized’, there will be updates to the standards that may not work on all existing players – like a 51GB HD DVD, or this new BD-R media format. But this is nothing new – CD and DVD went through the same thing. CD-R and CD-RW didn’t work in a lot of CD players, even a number of players sold after the formats were introduced. CDs were originally limited to 650MB of data, or a 74min playing time with music. But the media format was tweaked to get 700MB/80min discs, and beyond – but some players have issues with those discs.
DVD has had similar issues. The best known, of course, is the DVD-R/RW vs. DVD+R/RW ‘war’. -R/RW is the official DVD Forum standard, while +R/RW is a ‘non-standard standard’ from a group of companies who were upset that their intellectual property (and hence licensing revenue) were not included in the -R/RW standard. (Same basic cause as the BD/HD DVD war.) There were, and still are, players which have issues with one or the other format. There are also early DVD players which can’t handle recordable and/or re-writable media at all – just as with the CD formats. DVD Video originally did not include DTS support, and hence the first couple of generations of DVD player also did not support DTS. DTS was later added, and those early players cannot access the DTS audio. There have been other changes – such as with the shift from 8x to 16x DVD-R media. In order to hit the higher speeds, physical changes were made to the media. A number of older DVD drives cannot write, and sometimes cannot read, the 16x media due to these changes.
The point is that both BD and HD DVD are still early in their lives as formats, and both are likely to see changes which may not be backwards compatible with all existing players. Such is the way of technology.
There is another issue here that might be overlooked – this reinforces the fact that Blu-ray is not a ‘Sony’ format. It is a true consortium effort, as evidenced by this development being from a Pioneer and Mitsubishi joint venture, without Sony’s involvement. Blu-ray is much more of a consortium effort than HD DVD is, as the latter is almost totally defined by Toshiba.
Spotted via EngadgetHD.