But 25 GB disks for Blu-ray burners cost as much as $16 apiece a year
ago. Recently, however, two developments have been turning those high
prices into relative bargains.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
Cheaper Blu-ray blank disks arriving
May 23, 2010
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The
Movie fans who like to make their own Blu-ray video disks have
had to put up with distressingly high blank-disk prices ever since Blu-ray was introduced seven years ago. Likewise, many
computer users who like the extra data storage capacity have shied away from Blu-ray because the blank disks cost so much.
Those days are finally coming to an end. Prices of blank Blu-ray disks are dropping, and a new method
of making them promises to bring down prices even more.
Blu-ray disks have an incredible capacity -- 25 gigabytes (GB), more than 8 times the storage of
DVDs. And that's for the smallest-capacity BR disks. Higher-capacity disks, using dual-layer technology, can store 50 GB.
This is great for their original role for playback of high-definition movies, but the immense capacity of BR disks makes
them ideal for data backup. A couple of BR disks could back up most photo collections, for example.
But 25 GB disks for Blu-ray burners cost as much as $16 apiece a year ago. Recently, however, two
developments have been turning those high prices into relative bargains.
The first change comes from increased supply of standard BR disks. With more factories joining
production, mostly in Asia, manufacturers have started real price competition. It's not a price war, at least not yet. But
prices of regular BR disks, sold by reputable manufacturers such as Verbatim (made by Mitsubishi), have dropped to as
little as $3.19 when you buy 10. (This is based on Amazon.com's standard price.)
The second change is exciting. Blu-ray researchers have found a way to make blank BR disks on the
same production lines that make blank DVDs. These blanks, called LTH disks, are already much cheaper than regular BR disks,
and will no doubt continue to drop in price in the next year or two. Blank LTH disks, also based on Amazon prices, are
selling for as little as $1.87 in bulk.
The LTH blanks I've been using all come from Verbatim, which I've come to trust for error-free blank
disks in all three types (CDs, DVDs and BRs). I've bought 20-pack spindles (also called "hat boxes") of LTH disks for as
little as $1.60 each, during a sale at Amazon.
Oddly, Verbatim seems to be the only Blu-ray disk manufacturer selling LTH versions in North America
at this time.
If you have a Blu-ray burner that's more than a year old, you'll probably have to update its firmware
before it can recognize LTH disks. My LG burner, model GGW-H20L, updated itself from a file I downloaded from the LG
website. Check your burner maker's site for an update before buying LTH disks. (I had to connect the burner to my Acer
Windows netbook for the update, even though I use it mainly on my MacBook Pro. The updater runs only on a physical Windows
Next week: Software that takes advantage of the new LTH disks, for Windows and Macs.