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Optical Disc Drives 101

eiodotcom —  June 9, 2012 — 3 Comments

Today’s Eio post is on Optical Drives.

What is an Optical Drive?

An optical drive uses lasers to read or record information on a disc. Every modern computer comes equipped with an optical drive to read the information on CDs, DVDs, or Blu-ray discs. Outside of computers or laptops, optical drives exist in stand-alone optical drives, such as a DVD or CD player, and many video game systems.

Different Types of Optical Drives

There are three main types of optical drives:

  • DVD drive – DVD drives come with capabilities to read (R), write (W), or read-writable (RW). DVD-R, you can only read the data (ie., watch the video); DVD-W you can write or re-write onto the DVD disc; DVD-RW you can both read and write onto the disc.
  • DVD/CD drive combo – because DVD technology has surpassed that of CD technology, every modern day DVD drive can read both DVDs and CDs.
  • Blu-Ray disc drive – the latest optical disc drive technology is Blu-Ray player. This uses different technology than DVDs, so Blu-ray discs are often unable to be played on DVD players. But DVDs can be played on Blu-ray players.

In the past, optical drives were one of the main sources of saving computer data. CDs surpassed floppy discs, while DVDs surpassed CDs, now Blu-rays are overcoming DVDs. But all of these sources are used to back up small amounts of data. Hard drives, USB flash drives, and SD cards are the main forms of backing up today’s digital information.

Here are the various optical drives and accessories Eio sells:

SONY AD-7670S-01 Optiarc Black 2MB Cache SATA Slim 8X Slot Loading DVD Burner – OEM

ASUS SDRW-08D2S-U/B/G/ACI/AS USB 2.0 Black External Slim CD/DVD Writer

LG WH10LS30K 10X Blu-ray SATA Writer Drive (Black) – OEM

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Let’s state the obvious: Blu-rays hold a monopoly on what we call “physical media” (movies on physical, hard copies like DVDs or Blu-ray discs). They reign triumphant over their DVD predecessors and are likely to be the wave of the physical media future. But 2012 revealed the increasing “conversion” of physical media consumers’ switch to streaming. Blu-ray’s future seems to be on shaky ground.

The “real question” then, as PC World puts it, is whether Blu-ray’s shelf life can last the challenge of video streaming. In other words,

should we commit to and invest in buying Blu-ray technology, or instead place our eggs in the streaming basket?

Eio is here to shed light on this issue.

First, Pros and Cons

Many other sites state the numerous pros and cons of Blu-rays and streaming, so I’ll be brief here:

  • Audio/video quality: Blu-ray currently has superior A/V quality. Streaming’s quality may be far behind, but it is constantly upgrading with each year.
  • Price: Blu-ray is a one time deal (buy or rent a disc) while streaming is a monthly fee (like a gym membership). But one Blu-ray disc is often more expensive than the once-a-month streaming fee.
  • Convenience: Streaming is dependent on internet availability and speed while Blu-ray can be watched wherever there is a Blu-ray player/laptop. But of course, the plus-side of streaming is you never have to leave your home.
  • Title Selection: As of now, Blu-ray has a wider array of movie and TV titles to choose from, while streaming is limited. But streaming’s selections multiply as we speak.

Second, Seeing the Future by Evaluating Sales

The major sign that tells us whether to invest in Blu-ray is to look at how much Americans spend on video media. Columnist Joe Kukura argues that even though 2012 will be the turning point for Americans to watch more streaming videos than DVD and Blu-ray combined, major movie studios may not switch over to streaming because streaming is much less lucrative. He estimated that 2012 showed streaming sales at a measly $1.7 billion compared to the $12 billion generated by Blu-ray/DVD’s “declining sales.” People may watch more hours by streaming online, but spend more dollars on Blu-ray discs.

Others agree, although for a slightly different reason. Yes, people may switch to streaming like rats abandoning a sinking ship, but one analyst argues Americans are extremely reluctant to let go of their physical media players. In fact, they “hold them with a steely grip,” as displayed by the skyrocketing sales of Redbox rentals and Blu-ray purchases (which had a 23% surge in 2012).

Conclusion

This all goes to show that despite the “claims” that online streaming will soon wipe out physical media, Blu-ray technology seems here to stay. This war fluctuates by the American populace’s love for physical media and the movie industry’s powerful influence over sales and production. Plus, there are numerous variables for each individual’s preference.

For the time being, we can say that Blu-ray is the better choice due to the relative newness of streaming. Only time will tell if streaming’s technology can surpass that of Blu-ray and other forms of physical media. If so, perhaps we will see the end of physical media as we know it. But for now, the battle between Blu-ray and streaming rages on.

Whatever your media preferences, Eio can supply you with all your home theater needs:

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DVD vs. Blu-Ray Discs

eiodotcom —  May 3, 2012 — 3 Comments

The American people have spoken about their video format preferences: Blu-ray discs and online streaming sales are on the rise while DVDs steadily nosedive. While this census is clear, a basic review of the pros and cons of each will be helpful as you decide which to ditch and which to switch to. Today, Eio focuses on blu-ray vs. DVDs.

Weighing the Scales: Pros and Cons

The advantages of blu-ray discs over DVDs seem overwhelming. Due to their increased storage capacities, blu-ray discs can hold more special features and graphics, and have enhanced image and audio quality than their DVD-predecessors. The big names in film and media (Disney, Warner Bros, Fox) have also released a cacophony of movie and TV titles on their production arsenal, so these discs are found in most electronic/video stores.

Of course, these added bonuses comes with the downside of higher prices and being forced to buy the accompanying parts to bring out blu-ray’s potential. For instance, one must buy both blu-ray player and high-definition TV because blu-ray’s enhanced image quality will not shine on older TVs. You also have to buy the correct cables (and sometimes adapters) to make the blu-ray fit your TV. On top of that is the higher price of blu-ray discs, some up to $30 a piece while DVDs average $15.

Also, while blu-ray sales steadily increased in 2011-2012, some media analysts hypothesize that the blu-ray won’t gain full swing into the US household (or heart) for another few years. A large majority of consumers are still satisfied with DVDs and don’t want to face blu-ray technology’s added expenses. Blu-ray.com even estimates that the two video formats will coexist until HD-TV’s become more widespread.

While Eio highly recommends upgrading to blu-ray technology, PC World addressed the next question to be answered before fully committing to Blu-ray technology:

With the rise in online streaming (and the subsequent possibility of blu-ray’s demise), how long will Blu-ray’s shelf life be and is it worth the commitment?

Catch us tomorrow for the answer: Blu-rays vs. Online Streaming!

Whether you’re an old school DVD buff or an up-to-date blu-ray watcher, you can find both at our Eio store. You can also find blu-ray drives and burners for your computer.

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