View Poll Results: What is going to come after Blu Ray, DVD and the like?

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  • More optical media!

    5 13.89%
  • Direct downloads

    19 52.78%
  • Flash drive based content

    9 25.00%
  • Some new exotic method..?

    3 8.33%
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Thread: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

  1. #1
    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    I just read an article on Engadget about the possibility that Blu-Ray will decline sharply in the next 5 years, that it's a one hit wonder. And i can't help but think that it's going to be gone soon either. By soon i mean the next decade (a long time, but bear in mind that CD's have been going for much longer). Many people are touting downloads as the next big step in consumer media, with broadband steadily increasing in speed, more companies are starting to offer (iTunes and the porn mainly ) HD quality video downloads.

    Now, the problem i see with the latter are as follows:

    1. Digital Media has the problem of DRM. We all hate it, as it's the main "solution" to piracy these days. Digital files are by nature easy to copy, thus everyone can share them about without a care in the world as easy as you please.

    2. Digital files are not physical. Somewhat obvious, but it's important. There is still a large crowd who want the physical item in their hands. Digital does not guarantee longevity. Hard drives fail, drives get corrupted and people accidentally shift delete their download folders.

    3. Downloadable media is not feasible everywhere, and likely won't be for a long time. Sure it's not much of a problem to most of us, but there are places even in the West where broadband doesn't come easily - and even then the speed is poor. Not to mention all the countries that don't have broadband or a fast connection or the internet at all.

    The obvious solution to 1 and 3 is to provide some sort of service like Steam. Steam is arguably the least intrusive form of DRM around in terms of games. Sure you've got to be online, but that's rarely a problem. The primary benefits being: the ability to download your content wherever you are based on your account, the ability to save what you "own", not having to worry about discs, the list continues.

    There's iTunes, but that's hardly a good alternative to a client like Steam. What you should be able to have is the option to download all the stuff you've ever paid for, watch it as much as you like, but have it in a form that is only readable perhaps even watchable if you have the client application running. In return, you get the above benefits which far outweigh the problems of having intrusive DRM.

    Here's where flash comes in. In my opinion it's been the elephant in the room for all this. I honestly think it's the obvious successor to optical media. Flash memory is cheap and getting cheaper, in the next few years we should see 32GB and 64GB cards dropping to below £20 in theory. It's almost unbeatable in terms of size, whilst hard drives may have more capacity per unit volume, they have a lower bound in terms of size and it's a lot larger than flash. And compared to just about everything else, as read only media it is easily the most durable.

    The technology is already here and has been used really since the 1980's. Remember the GameBoy, how good were their game paks? The N64, SNES, GBA, DS all used flash based (i assume) rather than optical and we loved it. They didn't break as much, no disks to scratch - you could treat them like crap and they'd still work. The only real limitation at the moment is size to price ratio, and it'll soon be easy to put an entire HD quality film on a chip the size of your thumbnail.

    All you'd have to do is take an old format, or make a new form factor and corresponding card reader and you'd have an easy way to distribute media cheaply and effectively. People who like their objects can be satisfied, it's very scalable - problem with most media is that it has to be changed significantly to move with data sizes and it's stupidly durable.

    So.. what's next after optical discs become museum pieces?

  2. #2
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    Optical media isn't going to die off any time soon - flash is still too expensive, and not available in big enough capacities - especially for archival purposes, digital downloads will grow, but there's still a lot of life left in optical media.

    I can see it still being about in 15-20 years time in one form or another.
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  3. #3
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    I think that as long as flash memory prices continue to fall towards being comparable to cost of a CD, then they're gonna take over from optical media for most applications. Things like distribution of new software, electronic catalogues and general information movement all work fine from a USB memory stick, only applications like long term backup and anything that actually runs off the disc would optical media present a better choice

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    Does he need a reason? Funkstar's Avatar
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    In my opinion, more and more is going to be distributed via direct downloads.

    I agree that optical media isn't going away any time soon (just like it took *years* for the floppy to die off). Even BluRay, which some critics have said will never take off or will only last a couple of years, will have quite a lifespan if you ask me. Especially if they can get the number of layers in a commercial pressed disk up to what they have managed in the lab (I think 10 layers have been created).

    Although having said that, it is probably very likely we will see games, software and other PC content being distributed on USB/Flash drives. I just can't see it taking off for music or movies.

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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    Whiternoise,

    You miss the biggest issue full stop in your list or 'problems', most of the population don't have a means of displaying anything other than current optical media in their living rooms which is why digital downloads (which will probably be the next solution) is years and years away.

    The inhabitants of 'Hexus Land' are unique in that we have the skills to be able to setup something suitable in our living rooms, like a HTPC or an XBOX 360 connected out our Internet connection. The average Joe, who's happy to buy a £19.99 DVD player from WHSmith, has absolutely no idea WTF we're talking about here, and will go to Play and buy what he wants to watch.

    Right here and now there's no method of delivering and viewing digital content that doesn't exlude the majority of people who do not have a large amount of disposable income or do not have the technical skills.

    IMHO Blue Ray won't die off anytime soon either, you just have to look at the people out there who have no money and get in dept just to buy the latest 42 inch LCD telly from Argos so that they can watch the HD footy on Sky or show off to their neighbours, and they've probably bought a PS3 for their kids as well just to show off again. They think the big telly, flash console and BD's bring them some sort of style or kudos.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Stringent's Avatar
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    The problem with downloads is, they take time. I can probably walk over to a shop pick up say Transformers on Blu Ray and watch it in stunning quality before 1/2 of the download had completed. The problem is to watch true HD from a download you are talking at least 15GB, how long would that take to download? The infrastructure isn't here for that type of quality.

    Optical media will be here for quite a while. Plus for somethings, I still like to have something physical like a box.

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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    I think the long-term future is definitely downloads. Even though I'm one of the unfortunates with a hopelessly slow connection.

    But still, download speeds will continue to ramp up, and technology will make it easier to display downloaded content in your living room, even if you do dress in tweed.

    I think Blu-Ray will have a while in the spotlight though. It's convenient, will only get cheaper, and gives pretty much the best quality available to the consumer at the mo. It's ultra high-tech to the man in the street, and he's the one that spends the bulk of the money, not AV nerds like me.

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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    Whatever form it takes and when it comes about, it can't be soon enough imho.
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    Senior Member Tumble's Avatar
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    I can see stuff still being optical, but the with the actual disc as we know it falling by the wayside. We already have fibre communications - is it such a big step to use the same tech for storage? In the short term though, should solid state flash technology carrry on progressing the way it has in the past few years (I've got a 32gb usb stick the size of my thumb for pity's sake) then it will soon be replacing not only CDs, but hard disks as well - imagine a 'pen drive' the same size as a conventional hard disk - how much storage on that??

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  10. #10
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    I think by download but that DVD and Blu-ray will be around for a long time to come.
    Not around too often!

  11. #11
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    Slightly off topic, but I'm still wondering why people are buying pen drives. I've got a varient of the MicroSD adaptor in the picture below (mine's cooler, and smaller) and you just plug in any MicroSD card. With a 16Gb version of the card available soon, what the point of buying a pen drive that's defunct within 6 months....



    But my money's on direct downloads. Whenever I'm transfering something to someone, it's done via email or by uploading via ftp for direct access. Distribution of just about every bit of software is possible via direct download, same applies for all types of media. For backup purposes, I'd rather have a dozen hard drives or solid states than disks with such small capacity. I've already got one disk backup of all my pictures.....over 200Gb worth....you can imagine how long that took on DVD....
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    There will always be a market for a permanent archive media, so, optical media is with us until a higher capacity, smaller footprint, faster and more robust alternative replaces it.
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    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fatboy40 View Post
    Whiternoise,

    You miss the biggest issue full stop in your list or 'problems', most of the population don't have a means of displaying anything other than current optical media in their living rooms which is why digital downloads (which will probably be the next solution) is years and years away.
    Not quite.

    Flash memory in terms of consoles? As i said, Nintendo have been doing it for years - who's to say somewhere down the line they'll switch back.

    In terms of media - of course people don't have it at the moment - this is the successor we're talking about.

    Digital downloads, well again, not quite. The pickup of services like Virgin, Sky+ and Apple TV means that people can pay to download services direct to drive. Yes it's not very widespread, but it's on the increase. 10 years ago a DVD drive inside a computer was an extravagance, now it's almost a necessity.

    Just to be clear, i don't expect this to happen next year or any time soon. Flash memory is still prohibitively expensive. I mean in the mid-long term, ie next 2 decades.

    I think downloads are likely to come along side physical media. As mentioned, there are lots of people who still want to have the item of theirs "in their hand". What's the point in being a collector if you've just got a hard drive. Downloads are about to kick off big time, but there's no way it's going to replace physical media.

  14. #14
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    to be honest i dont think downloading 30 HD movies over an internet connection is going to make any ISP happy, i mean they moan now for the smallest of things.

    i think that toshiba (i think) are going to come back to compete and in the future optical will never die! how old is a DVD now anyway?

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    Pseudo-Mad Scientist Whiternoise's Avatar
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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    15 years prototyped, around 7-10 years mainstream usage.

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    Re: What do you see as the successor to optical media?

    Quote Originally Posted by IBM View Post
    With a 16Gb version of the card available soon
    Available now. I took delivery of one from MobyMemory.com this morning. Now living happily in my TyTn II

    My 8GB microSD is now in a card reader just like the one in your picture

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