What is Blu-ray Disc?

Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD), is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of the world's leading consumer electronics, personal computer and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson). The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. This extra capacity combined with the use of advanced video and audio codecs will offer consumers an unprecedented HD experience.

As with conventional CDs and DVDs, Blu-ray plans to provide a wide range of formats including ROM/R/RW. The following formats are part of the Blu-ray Disc specification:
BD-ROM - read-only format for distribution of HD movies, games, software, etc.
BD-R - recordable format for HD video recording and PC data storage.
BD-RE - rewritable format for HD video recording and PC data storage.

There's also plans for a BD/DVD hybrid format, which combines Blu-ray and DVD on the same disc so that it can be played in both Blu-ray players and DVD players.

While current optical disc technologies such as DVD, DVD±R, DVD±RW, and DVD-RAM rely on a red laser to read and write data, the new format uses a blue-violet laser instead, hence the name Blu-ray. Despite the different type of lasers used, Blu-ray products can easily be made backwards compatible with CDs and DVDs through the use of a BD/DVD/CD compatible optical pickup unit. The benefit of using a blue-violet laser (405nm) is that it has a shorter wavelength than a red laser (650nm), which makes it possible to focus the laser spot with even greater precision. This allows data to be packed more tightly and stored in less space, so it's possible to fit more data on the disc even though it's the same size as a CD/DVD. This together with the change of numerical aperture to 0.85 is what enables Blu-ray Discs to hold 25GB/50GB.

Blu-ray Disc was developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association, a group of companies representing consumer electronics, computer hardware, and motion picture production. The standard is covered by several patents belonging to different companies. As of April 2008, a joint licensing agreement for all the relevant patents had not yet been finalized.

During the high definition optical disc format war, Blu-ray Disc competed with the HD DVD format. On February 19, 2008, Toshiba the main company supporting HD DVD announced it would no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders, leading almost all other HD DVD supporters to follow suit, effectively naming Blu-ray the winner of the format war.

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