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Lens That Writes on Both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray 289

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the one-lens-to-rule-them-all dept.
morpheus83 writes "Ricoh claims they have developed an optical component that reads and writes all disk formats -- Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, as well as DVD and CD -- with one pickup and one objective lens. The component is a 3.5-mm diameter, 1-mm thick round diffraction plate with minute concentric groves on both sides which function as a diffraction grating. Based on disc information the drive can identify which format disk is loaded, Ricoh's optical diffraction component adjusts the laser beam with its diffraction grating for each format and passes it to the objective lens."
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Lens That Writes on Both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayaguNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:26PM (#15687506) Journal

    Phew! I thought there'd be no solution to the format wars.

    Oh wait, there's still:

    • cable wars (HDMI, component)
    • DRM wars (broadcast flag and more)
    • HD wars (DLP, LCD, Plasma, i vs p, etc.)
    • provider wars (comcast, DISH, DirectTV)
    • DVR wars (comcast (ick), DISH (ick), DirectTV (ick), TIVO (yea!))
    • did I mention DRM wars? (it's worth mentioning more than once)
    • compression wars (have you looked closely at the quality of a comcast HD broadcast?, and/or their OnDemand?)
    • price wars. (players, recorders (if you get permission to record), media (if you get permission to play))

    But, at least now we've gotten that pesky dual-compatible use-a-single-object-lens issue out of the way. Now I can tell all my friends and family the hurdle has been cleared and to let the floodgates of new consumers open.

    Not.

    I'm going out for a bicycle ride.

    • by bmo (77928) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:51PM (#15687594)
      "I'm going out for a bicycle ride."

      Holy crap, one format war to another!

      The following will generate a flamewar in rec.bicycles.tech that go on for months:

      Shimano or Campagnolo?
      What about mechanical vs hydraulic disc brakes?
      Caliper, Cantilever, Centerpull, Coaster, disc, Double pivot, Drum, Roller, Rollercam, Roller lever, Sidepull, Single pivot, Spoon brakes?
      Low spoke count wheels vs 32 or 36 count?
      Tubular or Clincher tires? What about Tufo?
      Octalink or square taper spindle?
      British, Italian, French, Swiss, or Raleigh threading?
      130 vs 110 mm BHC?
      Hook or no hook rims?
      Does a wheel hang by its spokes or stand on its spokes?
      Disc wheels or spoked wheels?
      Hard Anodizing or plain? Does hard anodizing weaken aluminum?

      And that's just to start.

      --
      BMO
      • It's just like the "format wars" in general aviation:

        High wing vs. low wing
        Trigear vs. taildragger
        Production vs. homebuilt
        Pattern entries (45 vs. overhead vs. extended downwind vs....)
        Towered vs. non-towered fields

        and so on...
      • what worried me about the format war wasn't the pissing match between geeks over what's the best, it was the prospect of buying the 'wrong' format and having to shell out for a new player and buy all my movies again (or shell out big bucks for what's now a specialty item to play what I've already bought, anyone try to buy a betamax lately?). With tape at least you had to rebuy your favs everynow and then since the tapes wear out, disks don't really do that.
    • compression wars (have you looked closely at the quality of a comcast HD broadcast?, and/or their OnDemand?)

      Yeah, but I couldn't tell if those big blocks on the screen were compression artifacts, or vomit from my reaction to the picture quality. ;)
    • by Firehed (942385) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @03:55PM (#15687785) Homepage
      • cable wars (HDMI, component)
      • DRM wars (broadcast flag and more)
      • HD wars (DLP, LCD, Plasma, i vs p, etc.)
      • provider wars (comcast, DISH, DirectTV)
      • DVR wars (comcast (ick), DISH (ick), DirectTV (ick), TIVO (yea!))
      • did I mention DRM wars? (it's worth mentioning more than once)
      • compression wars (have you looked closely at the quality of a comcast HD broadcast?, and/or their OnDemand?)
      • price wars. (players, recorders (if you get permission to record), media (if you get permission to play))
      You're either comparing apples and oranges or standard competition on really all of these.
      • cable wars (digital, analog)
      • DRM wars (they're all just added to each other, not which one's the best)
      • HD wars (each has its own pros and cons)
      • provider wars (market competition)
      • DVR wars (market competition)
      • did I mention DRM wars? (did I mention they're stacked, not competing?)
      • compression wars (again, tradeoffs, though all avoid fixing the actual problem)
      • price wars (you're complaining that competition lowers prices?!)
      To be fair, the so-called DRM war is a valid point, just not with the examples you used. It's more of an iTunes M4P versus PlaysForSure protected WMA thing. DVDs have macrovision, CSS, region coding and more, not one or the other, and the HD formats are or will be the same way. Likewise for cable wars, but it would be HDMI vs DVI vs that new HDMI-esque thing for computers that doesn't have the crazy licensing fee. Aside from that, it's either two separate entities or market competiton (which is a good thing, unless you LIKE monopolies).

      Now back to cleaning out my room.
    • Most of these are hardly "wars". Just consumer choice.

      If you buy an LCD, it won't become obsolete when Plasma "wins the war" (wtf?)

      Similarly for most of those items. My Toshiba PVR will still be useful if TiVo wins some sort of war.
      • HD wars (DLP, LCD, Plasma, i vs p, etc.)
      • provider wars (comcast, DISH, DirectTV)
      • DVR wars (comcast (ick), DISH (ick), DirectTV (ick), TIVO (yea!))

      On these three, you seem to be saying that non-competition is good for consumers.

    • What a depressingly entertaining comment. In the recent past, choosing a television (CRT) and video player (VCR or DVD) used to be so simple. At worst, I only needed to know about one new technology at a time (and only for a short time before they became standard): 2-head VCR vs 4-head, RF connector vs composite vs S-video, regular DVD player vs progressive scan.

      Now I need to choose between competing (not just new) standards, one of which might become obsolete (HD DVD vs Blu Ray), or delay my purchase unt

  • by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:34PM (#15687529) Homepage
    From the article:

    Although the diffraction device works for both reading and writing modes, Ricoh will initially offer the device for disk players only. Because some laser beam energy is lost at the grating, using the diffraction device for recording will require a blue laser with higher power than those used in conventional recorders.

    It's a good start. Legal issues may end up being the biggest hurdle.

    • It's a good start. Legal issues may end up being the biggest hurdle.

      not for this part of the player. legally, this piece of the puzzle (the technical one) is probably the least worrisome. it's what you do with the signal you read that starts getting you into trouble these days.. :)

      -'fester
  • cool. (Score:5, Funny)

    by celardore (844933) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:34PM (#15687530)
    I wouldn't mind a drive that burned all formats.

    In fact, I wouldn't mind a drive that burned anything at all. My last one 'cookied' about 12 discs before it fucked up and my computer wouldn't start if it was connected. Being able to burn any format would certainly be useful though.
  • Price (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chrismith (911614) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:37PM (#15687538)
    So, if Blu-ray players are expensive as hell, and HD-DVD players are also expensive (though not quite as much), wouldn't a player that combined the capabilities of the two be even more expensive? Unless these things can be produced relatively cheaply, then this isn't going to be the answer to the format war.
    • No, not necessarily.
      I think the main factor behind the price of the new formats is the fact that the companies CAN charge a billion dollars per unit.
      Those units have one laser, and a couple lenses made to read only one type of data.
      Combining the technologies really isn't that hard in concept.
      You have one laser and a few lenses. If data on a disc is basically a bunch of burnt holes in a piece of metal, then all you have to do is shape the laser to read all of the possible different types of holes in the dis
  • by dnaumov (453672) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:38PM (#15687546)
    ...COST ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
  • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:45PM (#15687560)
    Sony Corp, as part of its ongoing commitment to customer service, has bombed the R+D department to a smoking hole in the ground (Being Dabya references in 3...2...1... Write your own schtick, people! :-) ). When asked for an explanation, a Sony spokesperson said that Ricoh's solution "is not in Sony's best interests, and what's in SOny's best interest is in the best interest for the consumer."

    In other other news, the Sony spokesperson in the previous story was just hired by Microsoft as Director Of Public Relations. A Microsoft spokesperson was quoted as saying, "His previous experience at the Iraqi Ministry of Information is what clinched it for us. This guy thinks like we do."

  • by Cochonou (576531) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:48PM (#15687578) Homepage
    This kind of multi-numerical aperture diffractive lens has already been used in several DVD players for CD compatibility. As an example, check out this link [pentax.co.jp].
    Notice that you do not only need different numerical aperture lenses to read every format, you also need to generate lasers of the proper wavelengths. There are several solutions for this, but the easiest is to use three different laser diodes.
    • you also need to generate lasers of the proper wavelengths.

      Why do you need to use the correct wavelengths?

      Blueray discs use blue lasers because the pits are smaller than the wavelength of the infrared laser used for CDs. But why would that stop you reading a CD with the blue laser? The wavelength is still smaller than the pits so all you'd be doing is seeing the pits in a higher resolution, right? (or am I missing something?)
  • Oh dear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mwongozi (176765) <slashthree&davidglover,org> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @02:49PM (#15687587) Homepage
    This is only going to make it more likely that both formats will survive. I would really rather prefer that one of the next-gen formats dies off - I don't really care which one.
    • by Rachel Lucid (964267) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @03:05PM (#15687638) Homepage Journal
      Virtual monopolies are needed (especially in formats) to help consumers eventually.

      PCs took off because Windows provided an equal format for everyone.
      Apple thrives in spite of this monopoly by maintaining its own monopoly through its OS, regulating everything in order to keep quality high and survive as a 'niche' demographic just as concerned with design and appeal as they did utility. Having a virtual strangehold on internet music helped too.

      The only place where these 'format wars' have had even minimal success have been in game consoles, because they were largely seen as competing factions to a toy, instead of a 'universal medium' like office software or movies. If we get back to the point where we only have a couple of key consoles (I predict Nintendo will successfully splinter off, leaving the main war between MS and Sony), so much the better for game programmers.
      • by NutscrapeSucks (446616) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @04:39PM (#15687885)
        > The only place where these 'format wars' have had even minimal success have been in game consoles

        Somewhat. Usually a single console "wins" in every generation. The secondary consoles either die, survive in a niche (Nintendo) or require masssive subsidies (MS, Sega).
        • Not necessarily so. While it's true that Microsoft didn't turn a profit with the X-Box, they forced Sony to sit up and pay attention. The Cell processor and other PS3 components may have already been well in development by the time it became clear the X-Box wasn't going away, Sony (at least internally, despite their PR hubris) realizes they are no longer assured a lock on first place in this round of console wars. By the time PS4 and XB3 roll around, Sony will have learned a few critical lessons about st
      • PCs took off because Windows provided an equal format for everyone.

        Err.. PCs took off because the IBM PC was reverse engineered and clones proliferated the market, and because of the business software that was available. And was well before Windows became commonplace. As far as media formats, there were tons of competing technologies.. WORM drives, magneto-optical, hard drives, ZIP drives, and all sorts of proprietary storage tech. PC makers eventually adopted standard interfaces for RAM, the expansion b
    • Re:Oh dear (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aiken_d (127097) <brooks.tangentry@com> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @04:47PM (#15687902) Homepage
      Seems to me that this makes it more likely that the survivor will be the one with the lowest disc manufacturing costs. So this development may make it take longer for a clear winner to emerge, I don't think we'll see both formats go on forever. And once one format gets the upper hand in mindshare and shelf space, cheaper players will appear that only play that format (cheaper because they will only pay licensing fees for BD or HD, not both [as the combo players will have to do]).

      Me, combo players seem like a good step towards standardization.

      -b
    • I agree, I don't want it like bloody blank DVD's now, they took so long to come down due to +R and -R formats, finally an affordable medium when the new formats are coming out?! way too long.

      These morons should've just combined at some point, sharing isn't a bad thing if you're all making lots of money from it, these guys are basically like the contestant on a game show, instead of a guarunteed 20% slice they'd rather risk it for the big money.

      I hope both of them take huge cash losses.
  • Both Microsoft and Sony trying to push players playing -only- their format, will be left out in the cold and 3rd party "multisystem" player manufacturers will get most of the cake.
    Another blow to PS3 :)
    • Except for the fact that nobody's going to buy the PS3 or a hypothetical HD-DVD-equipped Xbox360 for the drive. People don't care about or understand details like that. Furthermore, multi-format drives don't necessarily signal death to single-format drives. I know a lot of people still using DVD-R/w and DVD+R/W drives, even though DVD+-R/W drives cost the same amount. That's what I think HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray is going to come down to- the same thing that DVD-R vs DVD+R vs DVD-RAM came down to. Namely, nothing.

    • Both Microsoft and Sony trying to push players playing -only- their format, will be left out in the cold and 3rd party "multisystem" player manufacturers will get most of the cake.

      Why would they care? They aren't looking to make money selling players - they are looking to make money selling licenses (for their DRM and format) and content. This just means that these ridiculous formats are more likely to be adopted. So, they both win, and the consumer loses. Increasing adoption will only increase acceptance

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @03:13PM (#15687674) Journal
    ...so the rest of us kids from the poorhouse can get it cheaper tomorrow ;)
  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @03:16PM (#15687687) Homepage
    Once again an elegant technological solution has emerged. Unfortunately a device that is encumbered with the licensing of both DRMs (Bluray/HD-DVD) would be cost prohibitive to the consumer. Anyone have an idea on how much it would cost a manufacturer to license both Bluray and HD-DVD, assuming this was politically possible, which it probably isn't.
    • Once again an elegant technological solution has emerged. Unfortunately a device that is encumbered with the licensing of both DRMs (Bluray/HD-DVD) would be cost prohibitive to the consumer. Anyone have an idea on how much it would cost a manufacturer to license both Bluray and HD-DVD, assuming this was politically possible, which it probably isn't.

      Well, the protection system (ACSS, which has nothing to do with CSS except in name) is the same, except Blu-Ray added a few extra bells and whistles. Also, you s
  • trees! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sky289hawk1 (459600) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @03:23PM (#15687704) Homepage
    with minute concentric groves on both sides
    to fit so many trees onto a singular lens!
  • by epp_b (944299)
    Companies should not be allowed to "own" formats. Eventually, they will be broken anyway. It's inherent with technology that if something is hidden or secret, it can and will be cracked (don't you remember what your mom said? There's always someone smarter than you).

    Formats should be open and standardized. Eg.: Microsoft should not be allowed to monopolize the market by locking in users to their Office formats; and likewise, the media industries should not be allowed to screw over their own customers
    • by mctk (840035) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @05:47PM (#15688030) Homepage
      Companies should not be allowed to "own" formats.

      Why not? Let's review. Because:

      Eventually, they will be broken anyway.
      Likewise, people shouldn't be allowed to own cars. Eventually, they stop running anyways.

      Microsoft should not be allowed to monopolize the market by locking in users to their Office formats
      Locking in users to their formats? Sorry, the consumers have done that themselves.

      the media industries should not be allowed to screw over their own customers by creating formats that are designed to be combative against those customers.
      Consumers shouldn't buy from those companies in the first place. Anyways, historically screwing over your consumers has been a pretty unsustainable business plan.

      Just imagine how many decades we'd be ahead in technology if things worked this way.
      Business does not exist to further technology. It exists to generate revenue.

  • Thank God! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Barbara, not Barbie (721478) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @03:44PM (#15687756) Journal
    At least now there's one LESS remote for you guys to hog!
  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @03:47PM (#15687763) Journal

    reads and writes all disk formats

    Cool - my 5-1/4" floppies aren't obsolete after all! Arkanoids, anyone?

  • Surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NineNine (235196) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @03:59PM (#15687798)
    It's no surprise, which is why I don't even care about digital format wars. Eventually, somebody ALWAYS starts combining them all together, so a few years after adoption, everything supports everything. DVD players that you can get in the grocery store for $49.99 play audio CD's, MP3 CD's, DVD single layer, DVD dual layer, DVD +R, DVD-R, DVD +RW, etc. Hell, My $100 PS2 does even better than that.! (I use My PS2 exclusively for entertainment. Love how easy it is.) As long as there's no physical difference in the format, the digital differences amount to just a few lines of code, which ends up being very cheap to combine on a tiny chip, even after those licensing fees. As long as the media doesn't physically change, there will be increasing convergence all of the time. Eventually, those cheap players that you can get at Wal-Mart will read HD, Blu-Ray, OGG, and WMA's. Just give it time. It'll happen.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      Eventually, somebody ALWAYS starts combining them all together, so a few years after adoption, everything supports everything.

      You got that right. I love my reel-to-reel/8-track tape/Laserdisc/Betamax/Magneto-Optical/5.25" floppy drive/gramophone. It has NuBus and everything!

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