Recordable Blu-ray disks are the same size as CDs and DVDs. They come in two types -- BD-R for write-once, non-erasable disks, and BD-RE for erasable disks.
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T e c h n o f i l e
Burn 50 GB disks on your computer with a Blu-ray burner

June 1, 2008

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   Blu-ray, the high-capacity disk format, is knocking on the door.
   Now that the high-definition disk format war is over, it's time to see if we ended up winners or losers as consumers. This week we'll look at the less appreciated side of the Blu-ray format, its ability to provide immense data storage on disks the same size as CDs. Later this summer we'll turn to s survey of HDTV players for Blu-ray disks.
   Blu-ray, named for the use of a more accurate blue laser instead of the old-style red laser, had been competing against HD DVD for early consumer adoption until HD DVD's backers dropped out of the market this spring. You can still find HD DVD set-top video players in stores, sometimes at huge discounts, and you can order HD DVD burners for computers, too. But HD DVD will be little more than a memory in a few years as Blu-ray players and burners take over.
   Just as CDs were originally designed for music and DVDs for movies, Blu-ray was conceived as a way of putting high-definition movies and their extra features onto disks. But all three formats have computer equivalents that can be recorded, or "burned," on an internal or external drive.
   Recordable Blu-ray disks are the same size as CDs and DVDs. They come in two types -- BD-R for write-once, non-erasable disks, and BD-RE for erasable disks. (The naming convention dispenses with the "RW," or "ReWritable," term that always seemed odd when referring to erasable CDs and DVDs.)
   Like recordable DVDs, Blu-ray recordable disks can store multiple layers of data. The limit for DVDs is two layers (yielding 8.4 GB of storage on a DVD+R DL disk), but Blu-ray theoretically can handle more than two layers. Standard Blu-ray disks have one layer and can store 25 GB. Dual-layer Blu-ray disks can hold 50 GB.
   Blu-ray disk burners are relatively affordable -- I bought an LG model GGW-H20L CD-DVD-BD burner from NewEgg.com for $260 -- but Blu-ray disks are very expensive. Expect to pay $10 or more for a 25 GB BD blank disk and $30 or more for a 50 GB disk. (After reluctantly ordering three recordable Blu-ray disks from an Internet retailer, I recalled the trepidation I felt in the 1980s when I bought my first recordable CD. It cost me $17. Blank CDs now cost as little as 20 cents.)
   The LG Blu-ray burner is a bare drive, designed to be installed inside a computer or into a drive case. Unlike any other burner I've owned, the LG connected through an eSATA interface. (SATA, called eSATA for external drives, transports data at the very fast rate required by Blu-ray disk burning.) Because the computer I intended to use with the drive is a laptop, I bought an Express card adaptor with an eSATA jack and sent away for a cheap eSATA external case.
   Most CD-burning software won't know how to deal with Blu-ray disks. To be sure I could burn Blu-ray disks, I installed Roxio's Toast 9 Titanium, from www.roxio.com. Toast is the longtime leader in Mac burning software. On the Windows side, go to www.nero.com for Nero 8.
   Burning a 25 GB disk takes about an hour using the disks I bought, rated as 2X speed. The drive is rated at 4X for Blu-ray disks, 16X for DVDs and 40X for CDs. It also will burn DVD-RAM disks.
   I bought the Blu-ray burner to make backups of my photo collection, which has now reached 190 GB, my iTunes library, now at 160 GB, and my 25 years' of newspaper and magazine columns (too many to count). But I haven't yet done any high-definition video recording on the LG burner. I expect to have done this by the time I return to the topic of Blu-ray in the summer, when I will look at set-top Blu-ray high definition video players.