Using recordable discs to store digital media seems like something out of the 1990s, especially since smartphones, televisions and desktop computers use various broadband services to deliver digital content directly to most households. Discs aren’t going away anytime soon, however, because recordable blu-ray, CD-R and DVD-R media still offer a number of advantages over broadband services.
Quick and Accessible Way to Store or Transfer Large Files
When it comes to obtaining instant access to smaller files and low-resolution films, streaming services can’t be beat, but if you have ever tried to download a Blu-ray quality film or a recent computer game, then you may have experienced how time-consuming it can be to use the Internet. While broadband has improved considerably since its inception – especially now that cloud services have bolstered online storage capacity – it still lacks the ability to quickly distribute large chunks of data.
Recordable discs are still one of the most cost effective and convenient ways to store media. For example, the price of a single Blu-ray disc is less than $1.00, while a premium Taiyo Yuden CD can be obtained for about a quarter, which is why music and film distribution companies still prefer to use discs to sell their products. Although you can buy an external hard drive relatively cheap, it is still a lot bigger than a disc.
Even smaller operations benefit from the convenience that optical disc media provides. A local musician, for instance, can burn a thousand CDs for less than the cost of an average guitar and easily sell them for a profit during live shows. While digital music sites such as iTunes are a good way to gain access to a larger market, they charge significant fees that can be difficult for new musicians to afford. A CD-R, therefore, is still the preferred way for musicians to sell their art live and locally.
Home theater and audio devices are certainly improving when it comes to their ability to access a number of different file formats. Most of these now enable users to connect their smartphone or memory stick to access downloaded content. When it comes to compatibility, however, disc media remains king. Car stereos, for example, can last for many years without the need for a replacement, and since consumers can get a no-frills DVD player for under $40, these are still being bought by those on a tight budget, which is why discs remain useful for file sharing.
Reliable Back Up
Sometimes, having a hard copy to store your most precious files is important, and though memory sticks are more reliable than hard drives because they contain no moving parts, archivists are still uncertain about how long they will remain error free. Users who want to store critical files such as family photos or genealogical records still prefer Archive-grade discs like the gold MAM-A DVD-R, which has a life expectancy of over a hundred years.
Recordable Disc Technology Is Still Moving Forward
The future for recordable media remains bright as well, since tech firms continue to improve upon their storage capacity and read/write speeds. Consumers can look forward to the arrival of holographic storage discs, which will have a capacity of 1 TB. Not only will these make storing enormous files convenient, but they will also be able to take advantage of any advances in picture resolution when compared to recordable Blu-ray, which can only store 50 GB of data. This means the good old external hard drives will also increase in capacity to keep up.
Recordable discs are not going the way of the dinosaur anytime soon. Though broadband services over the next fifty years are expected to takeover small file distribution, they are still going to have to play “catch up” in terms of giving users access to whatever the highest resolution of the future may be.
Brandi Tolleson is a prolific tech writer living in Whittier, CA.