Blu Ray Burner Guide

High Definition DVD for your PC

The latest development of the DVD format is the Blu Ray burner drive.

A Blu Ray drive uses a blue laser in place of the previous red laser used for the DVD format. The blue laser has a shorter wavelength allowing much more data to be packed into a single disc.

A Blu Ray disc can hold between 25GB and 50GB of data which is great news for high definition movies which use far more data than can fit on a standard DVD disc.

How does a Blu Ray drive work?

Well, much the same way as your CD or DVD optical disc drive does by using a thin plastic disc which has a very fine spiral track with dips and bumps running along it.

The disc has an aluminium backing on the top side and the drive uses a laser and receiving optics to read the bottom surface with the spiral track by bouncing the beam from the laser off of the reflective layer of the disc formed by the metal coating on the far side of the disc behind the spiral track.

When the laser hits a dip the light is reflected back and when it hits a bump no light is reflected back and so a digital 1 0 1 0… etc data pattern is formed by the dips and bumps along the spiral track.

The dips and bumps are either created by being stamped or pressed at a factory or by a laser within your PCs optical burner drive when you ‘burn’ your own disc for data storage.

The disc is spun with a motor assembly and the laser and associated lens, used to read the reflected light, is tracked along the spiral track using a precision tracking mechanism allowing the laser to read the data as it travels along the spiral.

The difference between your DVD drive and your Blu Ray drive is purely down to the use of a blue laser with a shorter wavelength than the red laser used in your DVD drive.

This shorter wavelength gives the laser a more accurate focusing of its beam so that more information can be packed into the same diameter size disc - around 25GB per layer – much improved upon over a standard DVD with only 4.7GB per layer!

The intention is that Blu Ray will progress along the lines of multiple layers and eventual storage space may increase up to 100GB per disc and beyond!

Why buy a Blu Ray burner?

If you are building or buying a new PC or maybe replacing your PCs optical drive you will want to look at adding a Blu Ray burner or Blu Ray drive.

Why? Well it makes sense to go for the new format Blu Ray drive as thy are in general backward compatible with the older DVD format and can burn and read your old DVDs happily whilst giving you the benefits of HD (High definition).

If you already own a HD television you will be able to use your Blu Ray burner drive to burn HD quality films and video which you will be able to watch in High definition on your stand alone Blu Ray player or, if you have one, using Sony’s Playstation 3 which has a Blu Ray drive built into it!

Check the supported formats when purchasing a drive or burner making sure it supports the DVD write and read formats you should require.

There are a multitude of Blu Ray drives available for your PC now.

Burning speeds are still quite slow in comparison to DVD optical drives but they are fast improving all the time, up to 8x at the time of writing.

What will you need to go Blu Ray?

If you are considering adding a Blu Ray drive to your PC you will need to ensure that your processor, graphics card and monitor are up to the required specification.

You will need an HD compatible monitor and a graphics card with enough processing power and the correct outputs to suit.

Sufficient research here is essential before buying.

Adding a Blu Ray burner to your PC rather than buying a dedicated player does give you a lot more options over simply playing bought or rented Blu Ray films.

There are many sources of downloadable HD content such as Apple iTunes etc and a Blu Ray burner in your PC would give you many more options and also allow you to connect your PC direct to your HD capable TV should you so wish.

Hey, what about home video fanatics? HD video recorders or camcorders are now becoming available and a Blu Ray burner would be a bonus here too.

What to look for when selecting a Blu Ray Burner

Look for a large buffer memory to ensure smooth transfer of data and if you are going to be doing backups or video encoding regularly then you will need to look carefully at the speed for writing to blank discs for a Blu Ray burner drive.

If you are also going to be using DVDs then look at the drives capability for reading and writing to DVD and which formats it supports.

Don’t worry too much, as long as the drive supports DVD+R and DVD-R you should be fine.

Internal or External Blu Ray Drive?

Your choice here, if you don’t mind delving within the inner workings of your PC go for the internal drive.

It will be faster, cheaper and one less thing to clutter up your desk.

An external drive however can be easily connected via USB 2.0 or Firewire ports and will be operational immediately.

The downside to this is that portable external drives are generally a bit slower at burning disks than their internal optical drive counterparts.

The upside? Well apart from the simplicity of connection, they are also portable and can be switched between laptops and desktop PCs etc with ease.

Don’t forget though, the external drive will be yet another piece of equipment to clutter up your desk!

Blu Ray Media and Software

DVD blank media are easy to come by but Blu Ray blank discs are still thin on the ground.

Look for BD-R and BD-R DL (Dual layer) quad or greater speed discs.

You will also need some software to allow you to burn to your Blu-ray drive.

Nero 7 Essentials will do the job nicely.

Blu Ray Drive Burning Speed

A Blu Ray burner will be able to write to discs, assuming suitable media of course, in the times indicated below:

Drive Speed Data Rate Write Time

1 x 36Mbits/s 90 minutes2 x 72Mbits/s 45 minutes4 x 144Mbits/s 23 minutes6 x 216Mbits/s 15 minutes8 x 288Mbits/s 12 minutes

The above times are for single layer discs, dual layer discs will take twice as long.

Time is for a complete disc write, i.e. 25GB.

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