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DVD Vs. Blu-Ray: All Factors Considered

Blu-ray Media, DVD-R, ElectronicsNancy Woo03 November 2011

For those out there who still boggle over what Blu-Ray actually means, this short little VS. battle will help clarify some of the main features of a Blu-Ray disc, compared side by side to the familiar DVD. Price, picture, sound, accessibility and future changes to technology will all be taken into account to give a fairly full picture of which disc trumps the other in which ways. The true winner is whichever one you decide to buy.

For those with a “classic DVD” collection, the thought of Blu-Ray may be as foreign as eating upside down. Why bother upgrading when I can let my classic DVD library augment my classic vinyl collection? I already have it, so why would I switch over to something new?

But for those sitting on the edge of their seats anticipating the best and brightest new gadgets to hit the market, a Blu-ray player is probably already a permanent fixture within the HDTV home entertainment system. Owning a Blu-Ray system doesn’t mean DVDs are dinosaurs, but it does mean that Blu-Ray will be able to do certain things DVDs cannot.

Let’s take a look at the differences:

VS.

Affordability

DVD: A physical DVD now costs around $10 to $15 a pop, sometimes even less for “bargain” films (which are usually a bad idea in the first place, but oh so tempting at $6.99). DVD players are so common these days that any number of them will go for under $50.

Vs.

Blu-Ray: Films on Blu-Ray typically cost about $10 more than its counterpart in DVD. So that’s more like $20 to $25 per movie, a significant increase. That’s a quarter of a Benjamin. And in order to play that sucker, you must have a Blu-Ray player, which costs around $250-$300, though they can go up into the thousands.

Winner: DVD

Picture Quality

DVD: We all know what a DVD picture looks like. Pretty good, much better than VHS, right? No more fuzzy skipping or snow. The picture is fairly clear at 420p sharpness.

Vs.

Blu-Ray: At 1080p, Blu-Ray picture is more than twice as sharp as DVD. The higher pixel number means that two and a half times more information is being shown on the screen, giving a sharper, cleaner, more detailed picture. As most films are being shot in High Definition digital, the higher quality appears much more obviously on the screen.

Winner: Blu-Ray

Audio Quality

DVD: The DVD sound is as good as can be… for 1995. For typical singe television, the DVD sound is fine, matching the picture quality. No complaints.

Vs.

Blu-Ray: With a home entertainment system, Blu-Ray discs provide stunning sound, most equipped with 7.1 channel surround sound. This means the Blu-Ray disc was built with the capability to distribute its sound through various different channels, i.e. the many speakers surrounding a home theater. The sound comes from all around, specifically the way the movie was made, mimicking true theaters.

Winner: Blu-Ray

Content Selection

DVD: Pretty much anything you want to watch comes on DVD. VHS? Not so much. Basically, every movie ever made has been converted from VHS or its original version to DVD. DVD is the standard for all movies, and you will be hard pressed to find a movie that does not have a DVD form. Plus, your movie collection is probably already in DVD form in the first place.

Vs.

Blu-Ray: Simply put, there’s no guarantee that the movie you want will be made on Blu-Ray. Because Blu-Ray serves a smaller consumer base, only the really popular or in demand movies will be converted to Blu-Ray.

Winner: DVD

Ease of use

DVD: Most people are familiar with the way DVD players work. They’re not that different from the old VHS players, and they’ve been around so long that the technology is reliable. Play, pause, stop, skip ahead, skip backwards, eject. It’s easy, simple and the hook ups are usually straightforward.

Vs.

Blu-Ray: Since Blu-Ray is a still-developing technology, there are sometimes kink in playback, skipping or longer load times. The newer technology means the first few generations are not as reliable as tried-and-true DVDs.

Winner: DVD

Extra Features

DVD: As most people know, DVDs offer many more features than the ancient VHS, such as scene selection, deleted scenes, director’s commentary, trailers etc. The main menu offers some extra goodies after the movie is over.

Vs.

Blu-Ray: Blu-Ray goes a few steps further. On top of all the extra features that DVD offers, Blu-Ray allows the user to bookmark favorite scenes and access the menu without leaving the current scene. There is better capacity for special features like commentary, animated menus and pop-up tracks. Plus, BD-Live allows the user to access the Internet straight from the screen and even play video games associated with the film. The Blu-Ray system can act as a multi-purpose Internet and gaming console, and it is a great piece for a thoroughly constructed home entertainment system.

Winner: Blu-Ray

Playback Capacity

DVD: Typical DVDs hold between 5 and 10 GB of data, or enough for one film and extras. DVD players can play CDs and DVDs.

Vs.

Blu-Ray: Blu-Ray discs are made with technology much newer than DVD, and as we know, things keep getting smaller, faster and full of more room for data. Dual layer Blu-Ray discs can generally hold about 50 GB of data, or 5-10 times as much as DVD. Blu-Ray discs are also smaller, easier on packing and less cumbersome. Furthermore, a Blu-Ray player can play all media types: CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray.

Winner: Blu-Ray

Outlook for the Future

DVD: DVDs have been around for a decade now, and they are still going strong. Most films come in DVD format, and it’s much easier to build up a DVD collection than trying to begin anew with Blu-Ray. As technology advances, media will either eventually move to a mostly digital format or there will be something even better to replace Blu-Ray. In that respect, it makes more sense to stick with the DVD system until the next widespread format takes over.

Vs.

Blu-Ray: Blu-Ray is technologically superior to DVD, but what happens when movies become completely digital, or a new format hits the mainstream market? Blu-Ray may be a treat for the time being, but plainly put, it’s a niche market and probably will not become widespread. The majority of people will be looking back on today fondly remembering the days of DVD, not Blu-Ray. Once all media becomes digital, both DVD and Blu-Ray will be obsolete. So why not just stick with DVD until then? Blu-Ray may just be a minor stopping point before the next big wave.

Winner: DVD

Who will triumph in the battle between DVD and Blu-Ray?

Final Tally

DVD wins: 4

Blu-Ray wins: 4

Well, there you have it. Each media format comes with its pros and cons, evening out so that the real winner is the one that fits you best. DVD is more affordable, more reliable, has a greater selection and makes more sense to hang onto until the next technological revolution. Blu-Ray has picture and audio quality that is significantly superior to DVD, a greater selection of features and the capacity to store much more data on the disc. Hopefully this side-by-side comparison laid out some of the major advantages and disadvantages to each. Now it’s just up to you to pick your poison.

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Your Favorite Printer, Epson, Adds Label Maker to Repertoire

ElectronicsNancy Woo27 October 2011

Epson printers are, hands down, some of the best printers on the market, and they are world renowned for their simple, sleek and multi-function printing products. Espson Inkjet printers, Epson All-in-One printers, even Epson scanners and projectors make up this expansive catalogue of high quality printing machines. And now, to the delight of many an organizational mind, Epson has released a specialty product: the LabelWorks label printer.

Those with a tendency to over-organize will absolutely love this new toy. Released by Epson America, Inc. just this month, the LabelWorks label maker comes in two varieties: the LW-300 and LW-400. Both share qualities of high customizability and easy functionality. And best of all, these little gadgets have so many sizes of tape available for it, so many colors and fonts, and so many symbols, frames and other unique embellishments that any labeling task can be made fun and creative.

Some of the other interesting functions of the LabelWorks label printer:

  • Small, easy to handle handheld device with a two-line screen and full keyboard.
  • Glowing backlight screen so that wherever you happen to be – the basement, attic or closet – the device is easily readable. No need to lug all grandma’s boxes down from the attic just for a little bit of light!
  • Ability to save up to dozens up labels for future use. The LW-300 allows the saving of 30 labels, and the LW-400 allows 50. No need to type in a favorite label over and over again.
  • Customizability of label sizes, so that there is less waste. Once the label size is chosen, it is printed with a perforated edge for easy separation. No need to get tangled up in scissors.
  • 300+ symbols, 75+ frames, 14 fonts and 10 styles, choice of barcodes.
  • Works with more than 40 tape cartridges in traditional colors and specialized media.
  • Compatible with dozens of tape sizes and styles, from 6 to 12 millimeters in size, of durable variety and in many different colors and patterns.

Office managers, lawyers, students, professors and all organizational gurus are sure to love the features of this product. Even for those who regard label making as a monotonous activity, they may be surprised at the creativity they will unleash with the LabelWorks label printer. And because it’s from Epson, the quality is assured.

The LW-300 goes for about $39.99 and the LW-400 is roughly $49.99.

So get those little fingers a-tapping; isn’t it about high time you brought some order to that attic? Take this little guy, your choice of colorful tape, and all those boxes you’ve been storing since the kids were born, then pour yourself a cup of lemonade, and make a day of it.

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“Be Smart” 2011 Korea Electronic Show Reveals Slew of Startlingly Smart Devices

Electronics, Taiyo Yuden, Technology, UncategorizedNancy Woo13 October 2011

It’s gotten to the point where some people are swearing by their smartphone, shaking their head in disbelief, as if to wonder, “How did I make it through this mess of my life before my smartphone?” These handheld devices are simultaneously a phone, a computer, a way to check email, a text messaging service, a game platform and a GPS, and they are revolutionizing the way people go about their daily lives.

At the forefront of the electronic explosion, of course, are Asian companies like Samsung, LG, Mach, Hynic, Redrover and Korea Taiyo Yuden. These companies, plus roughly 800 more, are currently attending one of the largest IT conferences in the world right now, from October 12 through October 15 in Korea. The 42nd Korea Electronic Show (KES) 2011 boasts a 5% increase of participants from the previous year, and the theme is “Be Smart,” under which major companies reveal new “smart” technology – and not just for phones.

Samsung has so far introduced their “Smart Life” line, which includes smart devices such as a smart vacuum cleaner and smart washing machine, which can be controlled by smart devices, such as phones, TVs or tablets. Whoa! Smart vacuum cleaners that can essentially “talk” to other smart devices like TVs? Is this getting too wild? Are we entering the world of Brave Little Toaster or any 80s science fiction movie? Well, like any new advance in smart technology, there is sure to be an initial shock value.

Let’s not leave LG out of this smart device conversation, because this company has developed a smart refrigerator that can monitor the level of food products in its belly, and do its own online shopping.

On the less startling end of things, LG is also developing sharper 3-D TVs, Redrover is showcasing stereoscopic 3-D technology and Samsung is displaying their latest LCD and LED back-light LCD TVs. Korea Taiyo Yuden has released a line of products called “Smart Solutions and Green Products,” which boasts smaller and smaller sizes of smartphones and handheld devices, with increased capacity.

Our smart devices keep getting smarter – does this mean we are getting dumber?? I think this may be a logical fallacy to assume so, but perhaps this a discussion for another time. In the meanwhile, stay tuned to the KES conference because there are sure to be many more impressively smart things to come from it before the janitors sweep in to clean up the mess (and maybe pick up any leftover electronics). What could be the grand finale? My personal preference will be for dishes that do themselves, or dinners that cook themselves. Maybe the question is not “are we getting dumber,” but “how lazy can we become?”

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Vinpower Brings Blu-ray Testing Technology to General Market

ElectronicsHawksM01 February 2011

Vinpower Brings Blu-ray Testing Technology to General Market

Held in regard for years as one of the most efficient technologies for testing Blu-ray media, the Stress Tester from Vinpower Digital has been made available to the public for the first time.

After successful adoption by leading media manufacturers, Vinpower released its Stress Tester product to the masses, providing an authentic environment for testing the duplication quality of optical disc media across multiple format and device types.

The Stress Tester product tests the performance of multiple writer drives as they burn content to optical discs — simultaneously or asynchronously — using a single control device. This approach is much more demanding to the device than burning one disc at a time through a computer’s single write drive.

The benefit of Vinpower’s solution is that it allows the user to simultaneously test Blu-ray recordable media on multiple types of devices made by varied manufacturers through different Blu-ray writers. Test results identify whether the devices passes, clearing it for certification as “duplication grade media.” Failed test results will product a report identifying how and where problems occurred.

“Unless you are able to reproduce these extreme situations with recordable media, there is no guarantee that media can hold up,” said Ryan Swerdloff, VP of Marketing and Sales at Vinpower Digital.

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Best Types of Audio and Video Cables for Converting

ElectronicsHawksM08 January 2011

When compiling the system for your DVD recording business, not only do you need to understand the components of a DVD replicator and recordable media, but the quality of your recordings will depend on the cables you use.

The Ins and Outs of a Cable

To the get best quality out of your cable, you’ll need to pay attention to three components: the conductor, the shielding, and the connector.

-          Conductor: The portion of the cable the signal passes through and acts as a shield and a filter for potential sources of noise

-          Connector: The portion that connects to the equipment

Analog Audio

Analog audio relies on RCA connections. The cables are grouped in stereo pairs with one connection for the left audio and one for the right.

Digital Audio

Optical and coaxial cables are grouped as digital audio. Optical cables transmit digital audio signals as pulses of light and are often used for DVD players and recorders. Coaxial cables transfer digital audio signals like standard analog RCA cables, but are packaged sfound as a single cable as opposed to having double plugs.

Analog Video Cables

-          Coaxial RF cables (F-type): Connect antennas, cable boxes, VCRs, TVs, DVD players, and DVD recorders. This is the lowest quality cable for transferring audio and video and should only be used as a last resort

-          Composite video (RCA): Able to be used in many kinds of A/V components comprised of red and white audio jacks

-          S-Video: A round four-pin connector transmits chrominance and luminance of the video signal separately.

-          Component Video: With the most detail and color accuracy, this cable is split into three parts each transmitted over its own cable and can transmit high-def and progressive-scan video signals.

DVI (Digital Visual Interface) Cables and HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) Cables

These two cable types transmit high-definition digital video signals. HDMI cables can carry audio and are backwards compatible with most DVI connections with an adapter.

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Tips for Fixing DVD Duplication Drive Problems

ElectronicsHawksM31 December 2010

Before running out to buy the latest and greatest disc duplicator, try our few simple solutions to see if you can solve your equipment problems on your own.

Let’s start with the basics.

Make sure your machine is running quiet and smooth. Any malfunctions may be a result of your equipment not getting the proper ventilation.  And always make sure you try a second or even third DVD just to make doubly sure that your problem isn’t the disc itself; the original disc may just be scratched, smudged, or dirty.

If power is your problem…

There’s no harm in checking the power source itself. Try plugging in other cords into the outlet your malfunctioning device is using, and, as the reverse, try plugging you device into another outlet. Also, make sure your surge protector works in a different outlet. If all those options seem to work, you may just need to replace the power cord of your device and not the entire machine itself.

Considering that internal DVD drives are powered by connector, try another one. If this doesn’t work, the drive is most likely faulty.

If the tray is your problem…

Always start with a reboot; your device may have simply experienced a minor glitch. Upon reboot pay attention to the display to make sure the device shows up as installed hardware. You may have to access your BIOS to see if the device is registered.

The next step is to manually eject the tray using a small, but firm object to fit in the pinhole in front of the drive. You may need to try physically opening the tray by wedging something small — like a paperclip — in between the device and the tray to snatch the disc that’s stuck.

If recognition is your problem…

Access your operating system by clicking on My Computer to show the drives with removable storage. If the drive shows up, select properties by right clicking to see if the “drive is working properly” icon message appears. The absence of the message means the drive is not working properly, and you may be able to update the device driver by rebooting and accessing the cmos set up.

If the drive never shows up it may not be properly installed or the cables may not be properly connected. It’s also possible that you just have a faulty drive or data cable on your hands.

Always remember that the support site for your device may have tutorials, help functionalities, or support services. It’s always important to check for updates for the latest device drivers or patches for your systems.

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STMicroelectronics Simplifies Blu-ray Player Design

ElectronicsHawksM10 December 2010

A new chip from one of the leading ICs will enable the production of smaller, lower-cost Blu-ray players and recorders as Blu-ray becomes more mainstream. STMicroelectronics says its new STODD01 IC power supply, with high-voltage power, can operate the full circuitry of a Blu-ray player, including the driver needed for HD read/write capabilities, by integrating three power supplies.

This new form of integration eliminates the need for multiple individual power supplies, cutting down on component costs, design complexity, production time, and board size. And on top of the fact that STODD01 is already known for highly efficient switched-mode conversion and that is now also incorporates a new shutdown mode to minimize standby power consumers, this new release could open the Blu-ray industry wide open to all types of consumers — lower cost home and mobile HD product buyers.

One major manufacturer has already qualified the STODD01.

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SanDisk Reveals Smallest-Ever SSD

ElectronicsHawksM30 August 2010

SanDisk has finally announced its release of the new flash iSSD (solid state drive) – the “i” stands for “integrated” – for tablet personal computers and ultra-thin notebooks. After much speculation, the drive from SanDisk, reportedly supports serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) in a small ball grid array (BGA) package.

Adaptable for advanced mobile computing operating systems, the SanDisk iSSD drive can be soldered onto any motherboard to be used on both Windows 7 and Mac OS X.

At 16 mm x 20 mm x 1.85mm – close in size to a postage stamp – and weighing less than 1 gram, the drive offers 160 MB/second sequential read and 100 MB/sequential write speeds and can store anywhere from 4GB to 64GB worth of memory. This is a significant increase in system responsiveness and storage capacity.

“New embedded SSDs, such as the SanDisk iSSD drive, which meet the stringent size requirements of small and light devices while offering greater performance, are designed to enable OEMs to deliver an enhanced user experience in their next-generation designs,” said Jeff Janukowicz, an analyst for IDC.

The iSSD drive is currently only available for equipment manufacturers.

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GotMedia News Round Up July 2010

ElectronicsHawksM30 July 2010

Vinpower Digital Rolls Out Manual Tower Duplicators

The California-based company Vinpower announced last week a new series of compact, manual CD, DVD, and Blu-ray duplicators called SlimMicro. These duplicators are a slimmed-down version of the companies SharkCopier series, but only in size.

Available in CD / DVD or CD / DVD / Blu-ray configurations and with four or five writer drives, Vinpower’s new duplicators pack a big punch in a small package – shoebox size to be exact. The SlimMicro was designed for a small workspace or for travel, and because it’s a standalone device a SlimMicro duplicator can be powered up anywhere an electrical outlet is available.

The SlimMicro series was originally developed as part of a joint venture between Vinpower and SHINANO KENSHI CO, LTD. as part of the PlexCopier line for release in Europe and Japan only. Vinpower obtained rights to release its own version of the product in the United States.

MAM-A Completes Upgrade to Only U.S.-Made Media Line

As the only CD-R and DVD-R/+R producer to offer products made in the United States, MAM-A has injected some juice into its homemade brand. The company recently completed an upgrade to its Colorado Springs manufacturing facility and is now able to offer a full range of “Made in the USA” silver CD-R and DVD-R/+R products, plus its 24kt Gold Archival CD-R and DVD-R/R+ recordable media products.

This expansion gives more companies and consumers to option to buy local and cut down on their import tariffs.

Calibre 1080 DVD PC Line Discontinued

Styron, the Michigan-based company, has announced the Calibre 1060 DVD as the successor to the 1080 DVD PC resin, which the company recently discontinued. The Calibre 1060 will be available worldwide and will feature new functionality for all the company’s CD, DVD, and Blu-ray duplicator applications, including improved ductility and toughness. The new application offers high-flow capabilities, fast cycle times, and good pit replication for improved yields.

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So Long Floppy Disc

ElectronicsHawksM30 April 2010

Remember that 3.5 inch square piece of plastic with the metal tip that fit so well into that small, skinny slot in your computer?

Can’t think back that far? Let’s refresh your memory; it’s called the floppy disk. Now that’s erase that from your memory, because if you didn’t know already, the floppy disk is well on it’s way to technology heaven.

Sony hammered yet one more nail into that coffin recently by announcing that as of 2011 it will no longer sell the floppy disk.

After nearly 30 years in the floppy disk market, the floppy disc began its demise in 1998 when Apple left the floppy disc drive off its G3 iMac. Now, according to the BBC. Sony has announced that it will cut off all sales of the antiquated storage medium in Japan next year. Earlier this year Sony suspended sales of its floppy disc in other international markets.

Floppies were initially introduced in the 1970s in an 8-inch format, available for use by Apple II and IBM personal computer users. In the 1980s the disc was reformatted to 5.5-inch version. After shrinking in physical size to the well known 3.5-incher, the disc continued to increase in storage capacity to the standard 1.44MB size.

While this move may come as no surprise to the millions of computer users out there, Sony’s competitors in the media storage industry, including Verbatim, Imation (3M), and Maxwell, have yet to abandon this sales chain.

After the floppy came the short-lived success of the Zip disk, Insite’s Floptical drive and the hybrid Imation’s 120MB SuperDisk, both serving merely as a transition medium to the CD disc – spurred on by the proliferation of CD burning – and then to thumb-drive storage. The future of the hard disc drive really came into question by analysts when personal PC computer giant Dell agreed to “drop the flop” in 2003, and it has been downhill for the disc ever since.

Farewell floppy friend; you served us well but your time has come.

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