128GB BDXL Blu-ray spec finalised

Only for BD-R, but 100GB BD-RE discs are also coming

THE BLU-RAY DISC Association has announced that it has finally ratified the BDXL standard which means that we’ll see 128GB writeable Blu-ray discs in the future. This is the good news, the bad news is that these are four layer discs which will require new drives to both write and read the new standard.

The 128GB discs will only be available as write once or BD-R media, much like a typical recordable CD or DVD. Only the 128GB discs use four layers while the 100GB discs which will be available as re-writeable discs use three layers. It’s unlikely that either format will see a huge consumer market uptake, as the Blu-ray Disc Association is targeting the BDXL standard for commercial use. This means that it’ll be yet another reasonably high capacity backup medium, although, at a yet unknown cost.

The new drives don’t even appear to have to be backwards compatible according to their press release, although it states that it would be easy to enable them to read 25 and 50GB Blu-ray discs. We’re a little bit perplexed by the only mention of consumer applications as the press release so elegantly puts it, as the Blu-ray Disc Association is suggesting that BDXL could be used for the “capture and playback of HD broadcast and satellite programming in markets where set-top recorders are prevalent”. This sounds like a highly unlikely scenario in any and all markets that we’re familiar with, as we’re fairly certain that the content providers would scream copyright infringement.

So far it doesn’t appear to be any takers of the new BDXL format, as the press release doesn’t include any partners. It might be turn out to be a reasonably affordable backup media if the prices can be kept in a similar level to the current crop of BD-R and BD-RE media, but it’s highly likely that the media will be quite expensive to start with. The new drives are also likely to be pricy at launch, as even by now, a “cheap” Blu-ray burner will set you back in excess of $130. Will this new format take off? Well, it’s anyone’s guess at the moment, but considering that even a branded external 1TB hard drive can be had for as little as $75, we can’t see that many business jumping onboard yet another disc format.S|A

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