Blu-ray Disc (also known as Blu-ray or BD) is an optical disc storage media format. Its main uses are high-definition video and data storage. The disc has the same dimensions as a standard DVD or CD.
The name Blu-ray Disc is derived from the blue-violet laser used to read and write this type of disc. Because of its shorter wavelength (405 nm), substantially more data can be stored on a Blu-ray Disc than on the DVD format, which uses a red (650 nm) laser. A dual layer Blu-ray Disc can store 50 GB, almost six times the capacity of a dual layer DVD.
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 March 2007, a joint licensing agreement for all the relevant patents had not yet been finalized.
As of February 19, 2008, more than 450 Blu-ray Disc titles have been released in the United States, and more than 250 in Japan.
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.
The DVD Forum (which was chaired by Toshiba) was deeply split over whether to go with the more expensive blue lasers or not. In March 2002, the forum voted to approve a proposal endorsed by Warner Bros. and other motion picture studios that involved compressing HD content onto dual-layer DVD-9 discs. In spite of this decision, however, the DVD Forum's Steering Committee announced in April that it was pursuing its own blue-laser high-definition solution. In August, Toshiba and NEC announced their competing standard Advanced Optical Disc. It was finally adopted by the DVD Forum and renamed HD DVD the next year, after being voted down twice by Blu-ray Disc Association members, prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to make preliminary investigations into the situation.
HD DVD had a head start in the high definition video market and Blu-ray Disc sales were slow at first. The first Blu-ray Disc player was perceived as expensive and buggy, and there were few titles available. This changed when PlayStation 3 launched, since every PS3 unit also functioned as a Blu-ray Disc player. By January 2007, Blu-ray discs had outsold HD DVDs, and during the first three quarters of 2007, BD outsold HD DVDs by about two to one.
Some analysts believe that Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console played an important role in the format war, believing it acted as a catalyst for Blu-ray Disc, as the PlayStation 3 used a Blu-ray Disc drive as its primary information storage medium. They also credited Sony's more thorough and influential marketing campaign. More recently several studios have cited Blu-ray Disc's adoption of the BD+ anti-copying system as the reason they supported Blu-ray Disc over HD DVD.
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