If Plastic Discs Are Dead, What's Next?

from the it's-all-just-data dept

Wired Magazine is now suggesting that discs are dead as a storage medium. With all the battling going on over the next generation of DVD technology, Wired’s products editor, Robert Capps, notes that not very many people seem to care about the new “high definition” audio CDs that have come out. Instead, everyone’s focused on getting an iPod and digitizing their music. While video is definitely more difficult to transport via the internet, the argument is that the technology is improving for compressing and transmitting larger files. Of course, it might be interesting to put Capps in a debate with Mark Cuban — who also thinks that discs are dead, but that portable hard drives or flash drives will take their place. Cuban’s argument is that “storage is expanding far more quickly than upload or download speeds to our homes,” so it’s going to be more efficient to move around hard drives than bits of high definition content. With some already experimenting with offering content on iPods, it is beginning to look like this battle for the next plastic disc technology may be a waste of time. Update: Then again, some analysts think discs will be big business for the next five years. Of course, analysts always seem to be overly positive in their predictions — it’s what helps sell reports.

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Comments on “If Plastic Discs Are Dead, What's Next?”

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Jared (user link) says:


The one thing that will begin to hold optical technology back is read/write speeds. You can only spin plastic so fast before it explodes. Am I going to want to wait God knows how long to burn 22-25GB of data?

What about the talk of 100GB disks eventually? Half a day?

IMO, optical technology under the current developments will only go so far before people get too impatient and start looking for alternatives.

tra1a1a says:

Re: Time

If you think about it you will see that higher capacity doesn’t mean lower speeds because the area remains the same. This means that that more data fits into the same space and since the maximum spinning speed is constant for the same time you’ll access the same area with the difference that you’ll store more data on it. So the higher the density gets the higher the reading/writing speed gets no matter the spinning speed.

Jared (user link) says:

Re: Re: Time

Yes, the area of the disc is the same. However, the whole concept behind blu-ray is that the light wavelength is thinner. Hence, you can fit more onto a disc as you said, but you’re going to spend more time on filling all of those smaller tracks up with data.

Ie: 1 track on current d/l DVD = 3 tracks on 25GB blu-ray DVD. Hence, it spends 3 times as longer in the same exact area.

Time increases dramatically. If this keeps up, as I said, we’ll be waiting forever to burn 100GB of data.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Time

I find buring discs to be time consuming & useless unless I want to give it away ( example: a disc of pictures to a friend )

Now days I use only USB flash drives & a portable 160 gig hard drive. This allows me to have all my programs & files with me so that I can jack into any machine and quickly do what I need. Flash drives allow me to transfer data back and forth between home & office quickly & painlessly.

But I must admit, I love DVD’s and quite enjoy collecting them. Discs seem wonderful for entertainment but useless for everyday storage.

JazzCrazed (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Time

One area where optical still proves its worth is that of affordable backup storage. While not convenient (and in my opinion practical) for general use as a storage medium, it’s useful to have a DVD-burner set up as a reliable backup device. Optical media are more resilient than hard drives, and will last longer, making them suitable for archiving purposes.

100GB would be a welcome disc size for this reason, even if it did take forever to burn.

JazzCrazed (user link) says:

It's about time!

I’m probably more extreme of an advocate for the death of circular discs than most, but I seriously can’t wait for the day to come.
Though, is it just me and my semantic nitpicking, or isn’t CD audio also digital? Just because PCM doesn’t see P2P action as much as MP3 doesn’t make it any less digital. “Digital” has morphed into a catchword for all that’s hip and online, it seems.
I also wish Wired would quit beating the dead quality donkey in comparing prominent audio codecs unfavorably with CDs. Not everybody has a Marantz CD-14 connected via Acoustic Zens into a Bryston amp and a pair of Von Schweikert speakers to be able to tell the absurdly small difference between CDs and 320kbps MP3s, anyway.

JazzCrazed (user link) says:

Re: Discs are dead?

I agree that bandwidth is an issue for the time being, but that will not be a limiting factor for long. In fact, media-over-IP probably would be a driving motivation behind the proliferation of faster broadband. They already do internet-transmitted video-on-demand in South Korea, where broadband speeds trump US averages by up to twice as much or more.

What stands in the way are the major media corporations who want to keep things the way they are.

Random Dude says:

How about this?

In this age of cheap USB keys, if there was a service where you could walk up with a 4-10GB USB key, and get a DRM encumbered* copy of a movie, or album (think blockbuster) and then insert the key into your and watch it or listen to it, would you?
How about a USB key that was read only, where it could only be written at the store?
How about the same idea but with your iPod or other portable media device?
Then if you decide to buy it, the DRM could easily be extended.
Seems intriguing to me…
* I hate the idea of DRM, but we all know that no Hollywood or RIAA member would allow this application without DRM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How about this?

why? u’d still have to go the store, which kind of kills the charm, i think. and juggling different USB keys for different stores b/c ea store has its own writing scheme will only cause confusion and eventually u’ll end up returning a blockbuster USB to planet video. that will not be a happy day.

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