Loading

What's goinging to be after Blu-ray?

We all know that HD-DVD has given up the battle for the next generation movie media, and that Blu-ray has been declared the winner. This is all fine and dandy, but that was so last year, and as a tech guru, I want to know what is next. It’s the nature of technology to be in development before the current market adapts to the next high end gear.

Now that we've finished with the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray battle, it's time to move on to what might replace Blu-ray. We will take a look at what is up next for the video viewing audience. Just as there were multiple formats fighting for the current "next generation" format, there are a few different formats that look poised to become the next favored media format when Blu-Ray kicks the bucket. Some are brand new high technologies that are mind boggling, and some are in use today, but haven't caught on yet.

Holographic Versatile Disc
No, we aren't talking about something out of Star Trek; this is real holography. This new technology could hold up to 3.9 TB per disk. To put that into perspective, you could fit the entire Library of Congress onto six of these disks. At the current video resolution, that is about a year of play back on a single disk. Sounds really interesting, doesn't it? I'm sure we will see the resolution bump up to at least double if not even more.

Traditional film is roughly 3000 to 4000 lines, which compared to the current 1080i is three to four times as big. If you're thinking of audio, this is more than 48 80 GB iPods in one disk. To go from 50 GB on a disc, which is what Blu-ray is capable of, all the way to 3.9 TB requires some technology we have yet to see.

This will work similar to previous generations of optical media. Instead of having a single laser to read the data, with HVD, there is a green laser and a red laser that work together. The red laser is first and is used to help lead the green laser. The interesting aspect is that the disc is designed so that the top layer is read by the green laser, where the data is stored, while the red laser passes through the first layer onto the second later, and both are then reflected back up to the laser reader, which translates the disc into usable data.

The way the data is stored on the media is more 3D than anything we have seen today. The best example of how this will work is using a desk of cards. In any media available today, it is similar to putting cards side by side. The closer they are together, the more cards fit on the surface. This is where the idea of Blu-ray comes from; the blue laser allows the cards to be placed closer together without overlapping. The lasers will read the position with respect to the X and Y axis.

HVD does something a little different with the cards. Take a deck of cards, and push them over so that they overlap. This takes up a lot less area than putting them side by side. The HVD has the traditional X and Y coordinate readers. Since the cards are overlapped, a traditional X Y reader wouldn't be able to distinguish the different packets of data. This is where the two-laser requirement comes in. With the two-laser approach, the data can now be read on the Z axis as well, making every card in the desk readable. This is the main reason we can store so much data on the same size media.

At the same time as HVD is being developed, another device utilizing this technology is in the works. Instead of having the traditional discs as we have come to know, they are also working on cards. As far as the laser aspect of HVD, this should be similar to the Holographic Versatile Cards (HVC). The biggest benefit of the card over the disc is that the card won't have moving parts, which cuts down on problems faced with current optical devices. These won't be able to hold as much information, only around 30 GB per card.

As far as next generation media, I don't think this will cut it. Currently Blu-ray discs can hold more data than this. I think that this may take off in the business sector though. The ability to store an entire computer hard drive's worth of data would be amazing. You could carry all your data around with you, even your OS, and also have all your programs and configurations available on any computer you choose to use. An HVC would also posses any data or access codes one would need for identification. You could have a ID tag along with your PC hard drive in a single card.

If you think that the price might be a problem, think again. The cards should be around $1 at launch, and we all know how the price falls on media after launch. Okay, price isn't an issue, but will size be an issue? These cards will be the size of a credit card, the same size as many of our ID cards.

Tapestry Media
Tapestry media will work in a way that is similar to the other technology I discussed. Instead of having two lasers, this will only have one, but it will be split into two different beams. Where these two beams cross is where the data will be written and also read. Due to the difference in laser designs between the two technologies, the amount of space each disc could hold is different. Tapestry media can only hold a theoretical maximum of around 1.6 TB, about half of what HVD is capable, but still a lot bigger than anything we have available today. This doesn't look to be as promising of a technical format as HVD, but anything can happen.

SD-Cards
This schould be a goog alternatief to a disc. Strictly speaking SD cards are upto 2GB capacity. To support ever increasing demand for memory capacity a new standard SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity, SD 2.0) was introduced which enabled capacities above 2GB. These cards are called SDHC and are available upto 32GB capacity. But SDHC cards are not compatible with older devices which support only SD card standard devices. Devices which support SDHC due to backward compatibility support smaller capacity (less than 2GB) SD cards also. In summary SDHC cards only work in SDHC compatible devices, but standard SD cards work in both SD and SDHC devices. Right now the biggest SD cards are 16GB, they're always getting bigger though. But Toshiba is already offering a 64GB SD memory card. If the technologie keeps developing than it can be the next best thing in the movie scene.

Flash Drives
I have read that some people might be interested in seeing movies move to USB flash drives. This is even possible right now, but compared to what the movie looks like on Blu-ray, we are far from that. Current HD movies can take around 50 GB, and the next generation will need to be bigger then this.

Seeing as how HVD can hold 3.9 TB, we would probably need, say, 4 TB of storage on a USB drive before this becomes an option. Currently we have 1 TB drives that are normal-sized hard drives, so technology is really going to need a push to get it to the 4 GB level.

Downloadable Content
This technology is available right now. The ability to download videos straight to your PC or media center will be great, but are we ready? Currently I don't think enough people have the hardware to run the media center that this would require.

The movies will be roughly 4 TB for the next generation, so not only are we going to need massive space for storing movies, but also a solid connection to the Internet, with speeds probably only reached in science labs now. I doubt the technology will be there when Blu-ray is on its last legs. I do think the general move is toward downloadable content, but we are a few generations off from this being the norm.

Conclusion
While more people are just now getting to understand what the heck Blu-ray is, we are looking to see what is next. Sure it is probably quite a ways off, but as tech gurus we are never satisfied with the current technology. The HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray war has just finished, and the next round is already in the making.

The war is still open to new and unmentioned technologies as well as the ones included here. The ones mentioned here are some of the front runners I feel have a good chance at winning the next media wars. My favorite so far has to be HVD. It offers the largest amount of space and the credit card sized versions will give it an additional push to the market.

I think downloadable media will also gain in popularity as well. I'm not going to bet that it will become the dominant means of buying videos, but it may draw a noticeable market share.

So how much is my opinion worth? Well I'm definitely someone that keeps up with the rapidly changing technology, but I was a huge HD-DVD fan until the end. Sadly it didn't win. I'm 0 for 1 so far for predictions, so perhaps this round will be different.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my article on what is next after Blu-ray. If it turns out to be anything like the last fight, there will be plenty more news coming out of DevHardware about these new technologies and the next generation war.