Blu-ray FAQ

What is Blu-ray?

Blu-ray, or BD (short for Blu-ray Disc), is a new optical disc format capable of playing high-definition (HD) video and storing large amounts of data (up to 50 gigabytes on a dual-layer disc). The name Blu-ray is derived from the blue laser which is used to read and write to Blu-ray discs. Compared to a red laser used to read DVDs, a blue laser allows for a much greater density of data to be stored on a disc. The developers of Blu-ray, The Blu-ray Disc Association, hope to make Blu-ray the next standard for consumer video playback, ultimately replacing DVDs.

Where does the name "Blu-ray" come from?

The name Blu-ray is derived from the blue-violet laser which is used to read and write Blu-ray discs. DVDs and CDs, on the other hand, use a red laser to read and write discs. The shorter wavelength of a blue-violet laser is one of the factors that enables more data to be written in the same amount of space versus a red laser.

What are the advantages of Blu-ray?

There are two major advantages of Blu-ray over previous media such as CD and DVD. Blu-ray will allow playback of HD video providing a much greater display of clarity, sharpness, and detail on modern high-definition televisions than was ever possible from DVD media. Blu-ray will also provide the ability to store large amounts of data, much more than was previously possible on a CD or DVD.

Who developed the Blu-ray Disc format?

Blu-ray is backed by the Blu-ray Disc Association which has over 170 members, consisting of a number of leading electronic manufacturers as well as movie and television production studios. Companies included are Apple, DELL, Hitachi, Panasonic, Sony, TDK, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers and more. To see the entire list of supporters, visit

Where will Blu-ray discs be primarily used?

Blu-ray disc media will be used much like DVD discs are used today. Hollywood films and television shows will be distributed on Blu-ray discs providing HD quality video. Consumers will also be able to use other types of Blu-ray discs to record video, store data, and play music.

Will Blu-ray be available for making my own discs?

Yes. Similar to DVD and CD formats, Blu-ray offers recordable and rewriteable variants called, BD-R and BD-RE, in addition to the pre-recorded format, BD-ROM.

BD-R is like CD-R or DVD-/+R. It can be burned only one time. BD-RE is rewriteable, just like CD-RW and DVD+-RW. All types of information can be written to these two formats making them suitable for any type of data storage including video.

In addition, there is a 4th BD format called the Hybrid Disc. The Hybrid Disc is a single sided, triple layer disc which can hold 25 GB Blu-ray content and 8.5 GB standard def content all on one side of a disc.

Where can I purchase Blu-ray disc media?

Blu-ray disc media is in stock and ready to ship at Currently TapeOnline is selling Sony, Maxell, TDK, Panasonic, Microboards, Verbatim and Delkin brands of BD-R, BD-RE, BD-R DL, BD-RE DL and archival grade Blu-ray discs.

Are Blu-ray discs durable?

Yes. BDs are coated with an extremely hard, protective layer called "Durabis " or "AccuCORE ". Like CDs, the Blu-ray data layer is very near to the outer surface of the disc layer. Without the Durabis protective coating, BDs would be just as susceptible to damage as CDs. Durabis can take an incredible amount of punishment, even from harsh abrasives like steel wool.

What's the capacity of a Blu-ray disc and how does that compare to CD and DVD media?

A single layer 12 cm (4.72") Blu-ray disc holds 25 GB of data. A dual-layer BD (BD-R DL) holds 50 GB of data. Video capacity will vary based on number of audio channels, and video compression. On average, over 9 hours of HD video will fit on a 50 GB disc. About 23 hours of standard-definition (SD) video will fit on a 50 GB disc.

Are there dual layer Blu-ray discs?

Yes. Both data layers are accessed from the same side of the disc. In other words, there is no need to flip the disc over to get to the second layer.

Which video formats does Blu-ray support?

Blu-ray players support playback of multiple video formats, or codecs, including MPEG-2, MPEG-4(H.264), and SMPTE VC-1(based on Windows Media technology).

Which audio formats does Blu-ray support?

Blu-ray players support playback of Linear PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, and DTS-HD.

Is Blu-ray compatible with my current DVD or CD equipment?

No. Unless your device specifically states that is compatible with Blu-ray, it won't playback or record Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray relies on a completely new laser technology using a much shorter wavelength of light than standard discs.

Will Blu-ray equipment play my DVDs and CDs?

Yes. The Blu-ray Disc Association expects all BD devices to be backward compatible. In fact, many consumer electronics companies (including Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Pioneer, Sharp and LG) have already demonstrated products that can read/write CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs using a BD/DVD/CD compatible optical head.

Is Sony's XDCAM professional disc the same as the Blu-ray disc?

No. While the disc size, laser color, track pitch, and recording density are all the same, the similarities end there. XDCAM is a pro-level product and the discs are formatted to enable recording of professional formats, including MPEG IMX, DVCAM, and most recently XDCAM HD. The Professional Disc employs a unique chemical makeup for the record layer to enable optimum functionality with XDCAM equipment. Unlike the most recent generation of the consumer Blu-ray disc, the Professional Disc is enclosed in a sealed, protective cartridge to guard the content from the adverse environmental conditions often associated with professional use.

What's the difference between Blu-ray and DVD?

Compared to DVD, Blu-ray discs offer HD video playback, and allow over 5 times the data capacity. Blu-ray discs use a blue violet laser to read and write discs, while DVDs use a red laser. The shorter wavelength of a blue-violet laser and improved lens specification are main factors which enable more data to be written in the same amount of space versus a red laser.

Will DVDs soon become obsolete?

DVDs will likely stay around as a data format for many, many years. However, movie and television studios are likely to eventually stop releasing material on DVD and only release content on Blu-ray.