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Home Entertainment

BDXL Blu-ray discs hit 128GB, won't work with your current player

If you thought the Blu-ray format was complete, think again. Two new disc specifications have just been announced -- and they won't work on your existing player

The whole Blu-ray format's been a mess from the very beginning. We can't, therefore, quite suppress a derisory smirk at the announcement of two new Blu-ray disc specifications, neither of which will work with your current player: BDXL and IH-BD.

BDXL discs will more than double the existing 50GB capacity of Blu-ray discs. Write-once BDXL discs will allow up to 128GB of data to be stored, while rewriteable BDXL discs will be able to store up to 100GB. The increased capacity is likely to be essential for storing movies with a 4,096x2,304-pixel resolution, and it may possibly prove useful for packing 3D movies in as well. The IH-BD (Intra-Hybrid Blu-ray Disc) specification, allows for one writeable layer of 25GB and one fixed layer of 25GB.

The Blu-ray Disc Association hasn't revealed when consumer versions of both types of disc will be available.

It's fair to say that many of the problems with Blu-ray stem from its origins as a computer storage medium. Whereas HD DVD was designed be good at holding films, Blu-ray was designed to hold data. This means that the Blu-ray Disc Association has a programme of continually tweaking the format. For PC add-in drives, this is much less of a problem, but for home movie-playback purposes, it's a time bomb of incompatibility and frustration, waiting to explode over all of us.

To be fair to Blu-ray, though, neither disc type is likely to be necessary for most people. And, as time goes on and 3D movies become more popular, it's likely that newer, higher-capacity discs will be advantageous. It's also likely that adding support for these formats into the next generation of players won't be much bother either -- just don't expect it to happen overnight.