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Blu-Ray

We’ve been seeing this term in the technical press since 2001, when it was settled on as the name for a high-capacity optical storage format. It was designed to supersede the DVD by providing the much greater capacity needed to distribute films in high-definition television (HDTV) format.

The term hasn’t yet much impinged on daily life, as we have yet to be able to buy a product using it, though that’s expected to change later this year. However, it was in the news last week because Apple Computers announced that they were going to support it rather than the rival contender, HD-DVD. For the past four years, the prospect of a standards war has been looming, like the one that bedevilled the take-up of VCRs back in the 1970s and 1980s when VHS and Betamax were slugging it out for supremacy. Some pessimistic analysts suggest that nobody much needs either and that it might be a repeat of a more recent format war in which both Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio lost out.

The name Blu-Ray was chosen because the system — like HD-DVD — uses a short-wavelength blue laser that allows much larger quantities of data to be stored on a disc than on a DVD.

To pack more complicated graphics, video and other content into each game, Sony’s PS3 will go beyond CDs and DVDs to a new disc standard called Blu-Ray, which can hold up to seven times more data than today’s DVDs.

the Detroit Free Press

HD-DVD and Blu-ray have a great deal in common. They use a blue laser system, offer the huge amount of storage required to house high definition video (at least 10GB), boast interactive facilities and will also be used to store PC data and games. Yet they are incompatible, and both are heading for US stores this year and next.

the Guardian, 20 Jan. 2005

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 26 Mar. 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-blu4.htm
Last modified: 26 March 2005.