What is the Difference between a DVD and Blu-ray Disc?

Today’s post is from YesVideo’s production department. Rolf Breuer from YesVideo and GadgetCentral.com share some expertise on optical media.

DVD vs Blu-ray

DVD vs Blu-ray Discs

What is the difference between a DVD and Blu-ray Disc? Not much if we compare just the physical appearance of these shiny plastic discs. We all know what a DVD disc looks like. Just like an Audio CD we would have said about 18 years ago when the first DVDs appeared. Fast forward to today and the answer to “What does a Blu-ray disc look like?” would be “looks just like a DVD.”

So we have to dig a bit deeper to see the difference.

Let’s first ask why there “had to be” a Blu-ray disc? And the casual answer is, because it’s “bigger, better, faster!” That’s the same concept that drives technological innovations in computers and entertainment.

Let’s look at some details:   (and I’m adding the CD just for completeness)

  • a CD has a storage capacity of roughly 700 Mbytes.
  • a DVD quadrupled it’s capacity to about 4 GBytes.
  • a Blu-ray disc starts at about 25 GB and can hold up to 50 GB of data on a dual-layer format!

Why did we need more storage capacity on the discs?
The DVD transitioned us from the good old VHS tapes to a higher quality movie experience on our TV-sets at home. It was ultimately the convenience these DVDs provided that brought a DVD player into almost every home in the U.S. at the beginning of the 21st century and Hollywood’s movies onto our screens.

Then the TV-evolution started to happen in the mid 2000’s:  High-Definition Television (HDTV) became the next big thing for the industry and a couple of years later in our living rooms.

A big problem had to be fixed, though:  the picture resolution on these new TVs increased from about 480 to 1080 horizontal lines and the width of the screens almost doubled. While a DVD could hold a movie of about 2 hours in its 4 GB of data storage, a HD movie needed up to 5 times more disc capacity. Hence the Blu-ray disc was born.

So do you need to have a different player for all these different disc formats?
No, today’s Blu-ray players can play all discs you might have on your book shelf at home – from Audio CDs to Blu-ray. No difference for the player but a big difference for us on the TV screen: live-like, brilliant and vibrant images that vi to rival your movie theater screen.