Thursday, March 10, 2011

Best Blu Ray Media FAQs

Blu Ray blank media guide : Best Blu Ray media
Best Blu Ray Media Part 7: FAQs

  • The ratings you gave brands and products look very low. Is Blu Ray really ready? Should I wait before getting a Blu Ray burner until the Blu Ray industry has matured a bit more ?
The Blu Ray industry is as mature as the DVD industry: amazingly, DVD ratings are as bad - but there are many more of them. The intrinsic nature of optical media standards is such that, for CDs, DVDs or Blu Ray disks, there is some inherent possible incompatibility between media and burners/ players. And - the intrinsic nature of optical media buyers is such that we always want to buy cheaper media, hoping to find a great bargain, i.e. really cheap media that works perfectly. This gives an incentive for optical media brands to lower their manufacturing costs further, even at the cost of quality.  Unfortunately, in optical media we have to pay more to get good quality - although it is not enough to pay more... You also need to know what to buy.

  • What can I use the media you selected for non-archival grade? Can I use them for my back-ups? 
Non-archival grade media can be used for any purpose which does not require you to be certain that the media will be there for you months or years from now. For instance, if you want to hand out some data, music or video to a friend or associate, it is perfectly appropriate to use non-archival media, which typically costs 50% of or less than archival grade media. If you do incremental back-ups daily and whole back-ups weekly, it is fine to use non-archival media for the incrementals, since they will be tossed a week later. On the other hand, if you keep your backups for long periods of time because you intend to restore from them a month, a quarter or a year from now, you must use archival grade media. Similarly, if you archive information from your hard drive with the intention to use a Blu Ray disk to safeguard the information, using archival grade media is critical.

  • How do you decide what is archival grade and what is not archival grade?
Based on the reviews we gathered for each brand and product, we look for reviews that report archival failure, the rate of reported coasters and incompatibilities, and the DVD reviews for the brand (assuming the brand is outsourcing or manufacturing both its DVD and Blu Ray products, otherwise we do not take the DVD reviews into account). In the best case, there are lots of user reviews for the brand and the media, no reports of archival failure, low reports of coasters and incompatibilities, and the DVD ratings are high. Our predictive rating ends up very high, and we classify the media as archival grade. In the worst case, there are low numbers of user reviews, some reviews report archival failure, there are significant rates of coasters and incompatibilities, and the DVD rating is low. Our predictive rating ends up low, and the media is not archival grade. We typically expect predictive ratings in the 90s, and no reports of archival failure, in order to rate a media archival grade.

  • Why is Optical Quantum not rated archival grade, when its raw user rating is 94%?
Optical Quantum's raw rating is high, but it is outsourcing a Philips media whose user reviews are very variable (sometimes lower than 80%) across all the brands that outsource it. Optical Quantum's DVD rating is low (in the 70s), and it has not shown a past track record of high quality for its optical media.

  • You did not rate archival grade any brand that is not manufacturing its own media. Is that on purpose?
If we had found statistically valid quantitative data that shows an outsourcing brand worth an archival grade rating, we would have endorsed it, but discussed the risks you run with outsourced media: media manufacturers can change on short notice and jeopardize quality ratings. As is it, we did not find any outsourcing brand worth an archival grade rating. We do not think this is coincidental: the same property holds true in the DVD industry. We believe that, in the general case, only manufacturers can enforce enough quality standards to make sure that the media remains of high enough quality. We would love to be shown wrong by our own data:-)

  • Why did you rate some LTH media archival grade when their ray rating was below 80%?
LTH media use a different way to write Blu Ray media, where the burner writes digital bits on the optical media by changing reflectivity from Low to High, where regular Blu Ray media gets written from High to Low. Clearly, this requires a compatible burner and compatible players. Older burners and players, and many current audio/ video players, are not compatible with LTH. Many negative user reviews were focused on the fact that their burner or player was not LTH compatible. This is regrettable for their own use, but does not affect the integrity of LTH technology as a whole, and YOUR use of LTH technology, if you have a compatible burner. When we removed negative reviews due to LTH-incompatible hardware, we found out that some LTH media were totally archival grade. In fact, because the LTH manufacturing process is roughly the same as DVD manufacturing process and can use DVD manufacturing equipment, a high-quality DVD manufacturer can easily make the transition to high quality Blu Ray LTH manufacturing, making it more likely that LTH technology will produce high-quality media.

  • Should I use LTH technology?
LTH technology is an excellent technology to use for data archival and storage, IF your burners and players are LTH compatible, because it is possible to find LTH media that are archival grade and inexpensive. We do not recommend the use of LTH media for audio and video recording, because many audio/ video players, even if recently introduced, are not LTH compatible.

  • Where did you obtain DVD user ratings for each brand?
We gathered over 12,000 user reviews of DVD media, collated them and reviewed every single one of them!

  • Are you going to share your DVD data?
Yes - we are planning a long DVD media series late spring/ early summer where we will publish all of our DVD data.

Next we review and rank the best Blu Ray media stores... 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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