Thursday, January 27, 2011

Best Blu Ray Media Brands: Brands and Manufacturers

Blu Ray blank media guide : Best Blu Ray media brands
Best Blu Ray Media Brands Part 1: Brands and Manufacturers

While we are seeing many different brands at the retail level when looking for blank Blu Ray media/ discs, there are many fewer manufacturers. In fact, most retail brands end up factoring an outside manufacturer under their brand. In the DVD arena, we found out that full control of the manufacturing chain was helpful when looking at quality. The same property very likely applies to Blu Ray.

The most common retail brands are listed in the table above, with the identity of their manufacturers, to the best of our knowledge, based on 2010 data. The manufacturers for all US-sold brands that we are aware of are Philips, Ritek, Optodisc, CMC Magnetics, Panasonic, Sony, Taiyo Yuden/ JVC, TDK, and Verbatim. In the UK, we also find the Traxdata brand, manufactured by Ritek, and the RiDisc brand, manufactured by CMC Magnetics.

There are some good news in this list. TDK and Sony, which used to be  top-rated DVD media manufacturer, and had stopped manufacturing, are in the manufacturing business again, this time for Blue Ray media. The bad news is that Maxell, one of the founders of the Blu Ray standard, also previously rated as a top quality manufacturer of DVDs, is not manufacturing Blu Ray media. At this stage, Maxell sells only factored media, both for DVDs and for Blu Ray. One surprise is Philips, which was factoring DVD media for a long time: it finds itself on the manufacturing side again. Since they were factoring DVD media from CMC, and since CMC shows Philips as the originator of the licensing rights, it is possible that the Philips media are actually manufactured by CMC, a manufacturer with a very poor reputation in the DVD market.

We originally thought that it was possible to group all brands manufactured by the same manufacturer under the same umbrella. We found it not to be the case. While some manufacturers, such as CMC, are clearly inferior (based on DVD data), others, such as Philips (which is not a DVD manufacturer), appear to show different levels of quality under different brand names. User reviews using objective criteria, such as compatibility or percentage of coasters, can give significantly different statistical quality numbers. Part of this can be due, in some cases, to an inadequate number of reviews - but not all. We figure that different retail brands with significant volume are able to negotiate manufacturing process changes which materially impact the end product quality, or are assigned to different plants with the same theoretical recipe but different quality outcomes. In addition, some brands simultaneously use several manufacturers, or have older batches from a previous manufacturer in their distribution channel, making it impossible to identify them with a single manufacturer.

As a result, we were not able to consolidate different brands although they have the same manufacturer. In fact, we found that, if a company has more than one brand, and both brands are manufactured by the same manufacturer, these two brands may have different quality. For instance, VinPower's high end brand is Optical Quantum, although it also sells discs under its own name VinPower. Both are now using Philips- manufactured media, yet Optical Quantum appears to have significantly better quality than VinPower.

Based on the track record of the DVD media industry, we are inclined to believe at this stage that companies which encompass the whole manufacturing process may have a quality advantage over those which do not. As a result, Panasonic, Ritek, Sony, Taiyo Yuden/ JVC, TDK and Verbatim could have an advantage over the others. Past DVD data would tend to take Ritek out of this leading batch.

Next we discuss how you can find out who manufactured the Blu Ray discs you have in hand... So come back soon!

To understand Blu Ray lingo, check our lexicon of Blu Ray vocabulary. Our Blu Ray brand predictive quality rating process is explained here. Our statistical analysis practices are described here, which is also where we discuss's predictive quality rating.

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