Japanese tech giants Sony and Panasonic have come to an agreement and will work together to develop a new standard next-generation optical disc. The new, as yet unnamed, optical disc will have a capacity of over 300GB so should be six times more capacious than the current popular Blu-ray standard or equivalent to over 60 DVDs.
Physical media and associated hardware sales are down, many think this is due to the emergence of faster broadband; making media downloading and streaming possible in acceptable qualities and downloaded games offering more speedy gratification compared to waiting for the postman to deliver a box or nipping down to the high street. Building a PC without an optical disc drive (ODD) or buying a laptop like an Ultrabook without a built-in ODD wouldn't concern most users in this current download-centric era.
Also for backups, copying files and carrying them around with you there are plentiful external drive options from tiny flash memory USB sticks (32GB for £10) and microSD cards (32GB for £14) to portable multi-terabyte HDDs to NAS devices connected to your router. No wonder people can't be bothered fiddling around with optical discs so much anymore.
In a press release Sony puts forward the case for optical discs as a "robust medium for long-term storage of content". Both people and businesses would benefit from a next-generation optical disc that could "preserve valuable data for future generations" says Sony. Furthermore "optical discs have excellent properties to protect them against the environment, such as dust-resistance and water-resistance, and can also withstand changes in temperature and humidity when stored. They also allow inter-generational compatibility between different formats, ensuring that data can continue to be read even as formats evolve. This makes them a robust medium for long-term storage of content", reasoned the press release blurb.
With 4K media looking like the next big thing the proposed new optical discs could be a perfect match for that content. Both the drives and the media will have to be economical though, there's only so much cash people will pay to buy a 'film', whatever the number of pixels on offer. Also streaming media services will not be standing still and some may well be delivering 4K streaming by the end of 2015.
Sony and Panasonic estimate that the new ODD and media will be ready by the end of 2015. I wonder if they will use a writing beam and inhibitor beam setup as we saw discussed by scientists last month.