Sharp Claims Blu-ray Breakthrough

Sharp has announced that it's now capable of building a blue-violet laser with an optical output of 500mW that's capable of writing triple and quadruple-layer Blu-ray (BD) discs at up to 8x. (36MB/s) In theory, this new development could be attractive to consumers/businesses who prefer to backup to optical disc, but find themselves hampered by the 25GB (single-layer)/50GB (dual-layer) capacity of current BD-R drives.

Breakthroughs in optical storage density/speed can be interesting in and of themselves, but Sharp's announcement would be a lot more exciting if BD-R drives and media weren't so expensive. This is less an issue for BD recorders—a 5.25" Blu-ray drive is about $105 at NewEgg, compared to $179 for a burner. That's a relatively modest 70 percent premium for the drive, but the media cost disparity is far worse. 25GB, single-layer, write-once discs are currently about $5 each; 50GB discs are currently $19 per disc. Re-writable Blu-ray discs are $9 for 25GB media. A pack of Memorex CD-R disks is $9.29 or 18.5 cents per disc. CD-RW's are all of 55 cents each. The DVD comparisons, meanwhile, aren't much better.

The media cost disparity is one of the main reasons research firm iSuppli expects Blu-ray PC adoption will be weak; the firm projects just 16.3 percent uptake by 2013. Even if Blu-ray becomes the dominant viewing standard, it faces stiff competition in the PC market. Small hard drives, flash drives, and DVD burners each have their separate weaknesses and strengths, but collectively they fill a need BD-R can't because of its high cost-of-use. That could change in the long run, but it doesn't appear that we'll be seeing a change anytime soon.
Tags:  Blu-ray, Sharp