Sony, Panasonic unveil 1TB Blu-ray disc

The cloud has garnered a lot of attention in recent years as the ostensible data storage format of the future, but those claims often overlook the technological limitations that prevent it from being a long-term solution. The concern for data storage longevity came into sharp focus when Facebook – the tech-savvy, social media giant – recently unveiled a prototype archiving system built upon Blu-ray discs. One might think that Facebook officials would embrace cloud-based methods of storage to compile the organization's large amount of profile information. However, the social media provider opted to utilize the Blu-ray format instead due to its cost-effectiveness, durability and reliability.

A misperception lingers among both novice end users and veteran IT workers that virtualized and cloud-based systems feature near infinite capacity capabilities. This could not be further from the truth. Servers can be taxed and pushed to their limit, placing a cap on how much data can be stored through a given cloud provider without paying a high premium. Furthermore, the potential for these servers to go offline at a moment's notice should give potential users pause, as there is no guarantee that information stored through the cloud will be accessible when needed.

Meanwhile, Blu-ray features an unparalleled scalability for data archiving, allowing individuals to back up as much as they wish at a moment's notice. Facebook, for instance, uses approximately 10,000 discs to hold a petabyte of data with its prototype cold storage system, according to Ars Technica.

"I think that the media suppliers, especially after all of the community excitement around it with Open Compute, they see a huge opportunity here," said Facebook vice president Frank Frankovsky. "Economies of scale could take over really quickly, and they could start producing those discs for the Open Compute community at much lower cost than they do today because, believe it or not, this is one of those areas where really high-capacity Blu-ray discs are in relatively low demand on the consumer side and in relatively high demand on the data center side."

Blu-ray moves forward as data archiving solution
The increasing demand for high-capacity Blu-ray storage was further reflected in Sony and Panasonic's joint unveiling of a forthcoming disc capable of holding as much as 1TB of data. As Geek.com noted, most consumer Blu-ray models come in 25GB or 50GB varieties, while the largest available tops out at 128GB. A bump to 1TB would provide a great deal more space for users to back up their various crucial documents and files. Sony and Panasonic have made it clear that this format is intended for long-term storage, referring to the new product as "Archival Disc." The summer 2015 arrival of this new tool should be met with considerable interest from the archiving sector.

With Facebook, Sony and Panasonic all throwing their support behind Blu-ray, it's clear that this format will remain an attractive and viable option as a data archiving solution for consumers and business users alike. For those individuals who want to begin backing up their important and irreplaceable documents right away, DIGISTOR has the high-quality media, hardware and software needed to reliably archive their files.

DIGISTOR's Blu-ray data archiving solutions cover every asset users will need to begin backing up their information without delay, including discs, burners and required programs. By combining these tools, individuals can quickly, conveniently and – most importantly – accurately copy their priceless photos, videos, music or personal documents without worrying about the longevity of their archiving platform. DIGISTOR's Blu-ray discs are built for the long haul, ensuring that data remains available for years to come. Furthermore, because this technology features unparalleled scalability at a cost-effective rate, users can copy as much information as they need without breaking a sweat. This allows customers to enjoy a level of redundancy that will virtually eliminate the possibility of lost or corrupted data.

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How to playback Blu-ray movies on a computer

Consumers today expect far more functionality from their electronics than previous generations. Some exceptions aside, the public generally frowns upon proprietary software and hardware that is only compatible with select devices. This extends to video media formats such as Blu-ray discs. Thankfully, Blu-ray has proven itself to be an extremely versatile medium, capable of offering video playback on a wide range of hardware. For individuals who do not have a dedicated Blu-ray player but want an easy way to enjoy the high-quality performance and image clarity this format offers, their current desktop or laptop offers a viable solution. Many consumer PCs now feature Blu-ray compatibility out of the box, but even those that don't can be tweaked to provide that functionality. People may be surprised to find that with a tiny bit of effort, their computers can offer the same high-quality video playback as a stand-alone Blu-ray player.

Getting Blu-ray playback on a PC
PC users should first check to see if their computers already have the option to play Blu-ray discs. If not, there are several software options available for PC users such as: PowerDVD, TotalMedia Theatre, WinDVD Pro, Leawo DVD Fab and MacGo. At DIGISTOR, we generally recommend ArcSoft TotalMedia Extreme 2, which offers full featured Blu-ray playback as well as a complete suite for authoring, editing and capturing high-definition video. This software runs on the most widely used PC operating systems including Windows XP, 7 and 8 and comes bundled with several DIGISTOR external and internal Blu-ray drives.

Setting up a Mac for Blu-ray use
Those who rely on a Mac as their primary computer may be presented with more obstacles to Blu-ray playback, but these can be overcome. Currently Apple's Mac OS does not support Blu-ray media, so users will need to find a software package that will address this issue. Macgo is one such application, offering a simple way to achieve Blu-ray playback on a Mac as long as the computer has a compatible Blu-ray drive. To complete the process, Mac users can install a high-quality external Blu-ray burner from DIGISTOR. This will allow them to watch high-definition videos on their machines while also offering a reliable method to backup some of their most priceless files.

Other considerations to keep in mind
It's critical that PC users ensure their monitor and computer are compatible with high-definition copyright protection standards. Many Blu-ray playback solutions require such compatibility to properly stream video. Without HDCP-ready hardware, consumers may be unable to watch Blu-ray movies on their computers. This consideration should be extended to the machine's graphics card as well. Many brand name models come equipped with HDCP compatibility out of the box, but this may not be true for stand-alone products. Individuals who have opted to build their own computers piecemeal should check to be sure their graphics card is in accordance with HDCP guidelines.

Another issue consumers should be aware of when pursuing Blu-ray playback on their computers is if they have the proper built-in connections. To properly stream high-definition video, PC owners will need to have the right ports to connect their devices, including DVI or HDMI. Once consumers have properly configured their machines and obtained the right accessories, they can begin enjoying the benefits of quality Blu-ray playback.

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Blackmagic cameras capture high-quality video for broadcast television

The world of broadcast television has dramatically changed in recent years. Viewers are increasingly tossing away their old CRTs in favor of television sets capable of displaying high-definition video. With HDTV becoming the standard format for this medium, broadcasters have had to rethink the way they capture video feeds. Consumers expect crystal-clear, crisp images from their TV stations regardless of their size and market footprint. This means that both major broadcasters and their local affiliates need to have the requisite hardware to capture high-quality video that provides a great deal of detail.

That need to display the highest quality video possible has led broadcasters to embrace the 4K video format. Capable of displaying horizontal resolution on the order of 4,000 pixels, 4K stands as the current high-water mark for video in this industry. TV Technology contributor Ned Soltz explained that while television crews initially used 4K primarily to shoot sporting events, the format has become much more popular for other uses, with many of the latest major network programs utilizing it. NBC's "The Blacklist" and "The Michael J. Fox Show," for instance, both record uncompressed, raw video in 4K.

Capturing sports in high-quality video
Sporting events continue to drive interest in this format, though, allowing broadcasters to display more detail and recreate the stadium experience as closely as possible. Many sports ranging from basketball to hockey have benefited from this leap in video accuracy, making the games easier to follow for fans at home. The nation's most widely viewed television event – the Super Bowl – utilized 4K hardware to great effect. According to the source, FOX Sports placed 4K-enabled cameras around MetLife Stadium to capture the Seattle Seahawks' dominant victory in full detail. A camera was even attached to a blimp hovering overhead to provide another high-quality perspective.

The sports broadcaster is "finding the tools that are best in breed to utilize 4K in a production aspect that will exceed expectations," said Sports EVS America vice president James Stellpflug. "From camera to replay server to whatever device they're using – zooming and scaling extraction is part of that effort – bringing speed and quality to their Super Bowl production."

The benefits of Blackmagic equipment
Blackmagic cameras stand as some of the premiere devices capable of capturing 4K video without compromising quality or detail. This hardware has been used by various organizations to shoot everything from commercials to independent films because of their track record of quality performance. Getting the most value out of these devices will require users to incorporate a reliable SSD, however. Shooting and recording raw video places a great strain on a crew's equipment, necessitating that filmmakers only use the best hardware available. That is why these media professionals should not settle for anything less than an SSD specifically designed for video editing. If film crews do not incorporate SSD drives that match the quality and performance of their Blackmagic cameras, their video-capturing capabilities will inevitably suffer.

When choosing an SSD for video editing, it's important that filmmakers and broadcasters find a solution that has been built from the ground up to accommodate Blackmagic architecture. DIGISTOR's Professional Video Series SSD drives, for instance, are compatible with Blackmagic's exFAT format straight out of the box, eliminating unnecessary configuration-related headaches. Meanwhile, off-the-shelf options – even those approved for Blackmagic use – may not be able to keep up with the technology's rapid rate of change, leaving them vulnerable to obsolescence down the road.

Blackmagic goes to Hollywood
Blackmagic equipment allows even aspiring filmmakers to get the same playback quality as their major studio counterparts. One of the core benefits of the Blackmagic product line is the ability to record and touch up video in a manner that would otherwise require camera crews to spend thousands of dollars on production and editing equipment. With a little effort, independent directors can wring every detail and hue out of their raw video by shooting with Blackmagic.

In a profile featured on Blackmagic Design's website, filmmaker Samuel Jacob described how these products allowed him to achieve professional-level quality with his video capture without the backing of a studio. As an independent artist, Jacob is responsible for every phase of the filmmaking process, including covering the director, editor and colorist roles. With film or even DSLR formats, he would be unable to obtain the professional look and feel he wanted in his movie while investing a great deal of personal funding. By using Blackmagic cameras, Jacob has been able to shoot in high-quality raw video without having to break the bank on expensive equipment.

"[Blackmagic video playback is] so film-like that you don't even realize you're shooting on a digital camera," Jacob said. "This camera is made for independent filmmakers like me. … "I don't want the footage to simply stand out. I want something that will last, and Blackmagic Design delivers."

Moving forward, consumers will increasingly expect their video entertainment to be displayed in high-quality playback. To meet this demand, broadcasters of every size must have equipment capable of capturing clear and highly detailed video. By pairing a Blackmagic camera with an SSD for video editing, these professionals can achieve that level of quality without breaking the bank on new, overly expensive equipment.

"The wider availability of 4K cameras and compatible software coupled with new delivery technologies is not only accelerating the pace of 4K production but also showing that it is the direction of production," Soltz wrote. "It's not a fad or just a technology curiosity. 4K is here to stay."

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Enhance everyday business tasks with high-performance SD cards

Everyday office operations are littered with seemingly insignificant expenses that can add up quickly. If managers don't get a handle on these costs, they may find their budgets spiraling out of control. Office leaders should take every opportunity to reduce unnecessary spending and boost the bottom line. By doing so, businesses can maintain healthy growth and development and avoid having to make difficult decisions regarding personnel and other factors to remain in the black. The key is to eliminate many of the unseen expenses that lurk just beneath the surface of office processes.

Office managers may not give a second thought to their printer usage, for instance, but an inefficient approach can easily translate into a great deal of unnecessary expenditures. According to Pacific Office Automation Albuquerque, many organizations misuse their ink and toner supplies, driving up costs as they deplete their stock quicker than they should be. Employees are often unaware of how to wring the most value from these resources, or are simply apathetic. Managers should take steps to streamline the use of these assets so they last longer and are restocked on an occasional basis.

Ink and toner may seem like negligible expenses, but they remain the boon of many office budgets. According to the New York Daily News, an ounce of printer ink can be more expensive than a similar amount of champagne. The news outlet reported that toner may reach prices that are approximately 30 times higher than those of some libations from Moet and Chandon – a premiere purveyor of high-quality champagne. The source cited Consumer Reports research which found that the cost of a gallon of printer ink was equivalent to more than 2,000 gallons of gasoline.

Get more value from office equipment
Representatives from Pacific Office Automation Albuquerque explained that companies can make better use of their toner stores to drive down their operational costs. In particular, managers can employ office automation solutions to use as little ink as possible while still meeting the everyday demands of the organization. For example, employees may waste expensive ink creating color documents for internally circulated materials. In most cases, this is an unnecessary waste of resources and can be easily avoided by leveraging OA solutions to make the right distinctions regarding ink and toner usage.

"Ideally, every office would already have the proper technology in place, technology that is suited to the company's specific needs," said a representative with Pacific Office Automation Albuquerque. "It is important for a company to first take stock of the office automation products that they use and to determine whether those products indeed meet their specific needs. … Print track and control can help managers maximize their resources and minimize waste. It can also help to keep documents from being printed unnecessarily or accidentally, and can eliminate duplicate print jobs."

The benefits of OA technology go far beyond printer management, however. Demand Media writer Aurelio Locsin explained that automating internal processes across the office streamlines mundane and time-consuming tasks while allowing organizations to get more productivity out of their personnel. In addition, employees are provided more freedom to collaborate and work toward a common goal.

"[OA] allows a few employees to perform the tasks of many, such as when one machine automatically chooses, packs and labels products for shipping," Locsin wrote. "Automation enables people with lower skill levels to perform higher-level tasks, such as when a clerk creates an attractive and compelling presentation by typing text into software templates that pull in third-party pictures, videos and music. Automating information systems reduces storage space, speeds retrieval and allows several employees to access the same data at the same time."

Better performance = lower costs
To gain the full benefits of OA, businesses will need to have the highest quality components in place supporting these assets. With such equipment that is so focused on the transfer of data between two end points, adopters should invest in a sophisticated tool to handle data storage and processing needs. SD cards are typically the platform of choice for various OA-based hardware including multifunction printers. To avoid replacing these devices at regular intervals, businesses should invest in durable components that will stand the test of time. Panasonic's line of industrial-grade SD cards fit the bill, providing a range of features that ensure their continued viability.

If an organization suffers a sudden electrical disturbance or outage, for instance, the power failure robustness capabilities built into Panasonic's products ensure that damage to stored data is minimized and that this vital information is safeguarded as much as possible. In addition, automatic data refresh helps to identify the numerous bit errors that will inevitably occur when devices attempt to read data. Taken individually, these flaws are insignificant, but given enough time to accumulate, they may cause notable performance issues.

Durability ensures these devices remain operational for years on end, but without their high level of performance, they wouldn't provide much value to an organization. With some models reaching read and write speeds of 95 Mbps and 35 Mbps, respectively, Panasonic's line of industrial-grade SD cards will continue benefiting the office for the foreseeable future.

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3 ways to ensure Blu-ray disc longevity

One of the major benefits of Blu-ray as a data archiving solution is the format's durability. Traditional hard disk drives are prone to hardware failure as their components inevitably diminish over time. In addition, the technology's read/write heads are delicate by nature, creating considerable concerns regarding the long-term performance of these devices. Even a simple jostling could be enough to break an HDD's internal parts and lose one-of-a-kind documents and data forever. Blu-ray discs, meanwhile, are much sturdier, ensuring that this information will be available for years to come. Consumers and small business owners who choose to leverage Blu-ray for their data archiving solutions can take steps to enhance the longevity of their discs.

Only use high-quality media
Not all Blu-ray discs share the same level of quality and performance. The type of recording layer material and data signal polarity used on a particular disc will have a considerable effect on its usefulness as a storage device. Low-to-High Blu-ray media, for instance, uses an organic dye-pigment that features higher reflectivity than standard discs. Some organizations view LTH as a low-cost option for Blu-ray, as the format shares its manufacturing process with those used to print older media such as CDs. The upfront cost savings presented by LTH will evaporate over time as the format does not offer the same level of compatibility with newer devices as higher quality Blu-ray discs. Furthermore, the organic dye used in LTH media is much more sensitive to light, increasing the likelihood of users encountering errors when attempting to copy files to or access data from a disc.

Quality brands such as DIGISTOR and Panasonic exclusively offer High-to-Low media to provide much better performance and durability with their Blu-ray products. Unlike LTH media, HTL discs use inorganic alloy or composite material that features a much higher resistance to ultraviolet light, significantly slowing the aging process. Because HTL is the recognized standard for high-quality Blu-ray playback, it is compatible with a wide variety of internal and external Blu-ray burners and players.

Start with a clean burn
Some consumers and business users may make the assumption that – all things being considered – there isn't much difference between various Blu-ray burners. This couldn't be further from the truth. Low-quality hardware will not burn data to a disc with the precision offered by a better product. By ensuring that their hardware is making clean burns from the outset, individuals can increase the lifespan of their Blu-ray discs. That's why it is imperative prospective Blu-ray adopters only purchase burners that have been extensively vetted by other users and have a documented history of meeting user expectations.

DIGISTOR's hardware only uses the highest-quality Blu-ray burning laser components from top-of-the-line and trusted manufacturers like Panasonic. By ensuring that these products are built from the ground up with the best hardware available, DIGISTOR can offer a high-quality solution that will remain compatible with the latest developments in Blu-ray technology, offering reliable data storage for years to come.

Take care with storage
HTL Blu-ray discs are durable by their nature, but users can increase their longevity by following storage best practices. For instance, placing these assets in a cool, dry environment that's free of caustic contaminants will enhance their resiliency. As a data archiving solution, Blu-ray is nearly unmatched in terms of durability, offering UV light and scratch resistant features. However, like any sensitive storage option, Blu-ray discs should be handled with care to maximize their lifespan.

By following these three guidelines, users can ensure that they get the most value from their archived data on Blu-ray media as well as reduce the possibility of losing important files or documents due to hardware degradation. When handled appropriately, Blu-ray offers one of the most reliable archiving formats available to consumers and small businesses.

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Online storage and backup subject to close with little notice

Providers big and small have been shutting down their cloud-based storage and backup options more recently as the pricing for such services continues to be unfeasible for the vendors. This development has led to some storage options getting price changes or being axed altogether, leaving many subscribers to question if their account will be next. As more organizations change their options, users should consider other storage possibilities that they can use to backup and preserve their assets. This way, people will be more prepared to transfer their files and ensure that their information isn't preemptively deleted.

When it comes to shutting down backup and sharing programs, Comcast was one of the more recent businesses to do so, leaving numerous customers to find another vendor without giving any assistance or explanation. The provider sent emails to its users, noting that the Secure Backup & Share service would be closing on Dec. 1, 2013, but never disclosed specifics as to why, according to DSLReports​ contributor Karl Bode. While this event shocked many, it's not the first time that the offering had difficulties. Mozy – partner provider of the solution – had canceled its unlimited service in Feb. 2011 due to the rapidly increasing cost of storage. It's only speculative to suggest that similar price-related constraints and the contract renewal cycle could have affected the solution's shutdown.

Needless to say, users of this program fled to online forums to try to seek out answers and gain reparations for the inconvenience, but no moderators released an official statement regarding the situation. With a large vendor like Comcast closing its backup services, it serves as a true demonstration for the growing reliability concerns of online storage options and the influential costs for these offerings.

Choosing a long-lasting solution
Comcast isn't the only organization that closed down it's backup services – Symantec recently followed suit. The cybersecurity firm chose to discontinue its Backup Exec cloud service as the provider lacked content-sharing and mobile features that users require, according to IDG News Service. The organization halted all renewals and subscriptions for the program earlier this month, leaving users to backup their files with alternative storage devices before their annual subscription ends next year. For businesses and other individuals using this system, Symantec offered an on-premise version of the cloud service at a discount. However, this brings into question whether the organization will still be able to support the solution with its capabilities.

"Customers want features such as synch & share and mobile access," Symantec's FAQ said, according to the source. "Backup Exec.cloud was not designed with these features in mind. As a result, Symantec has decided to discontinue Backup Exec.cloud in order to focus on more productive and feature-rich cloud-based applications which include this type of functionality."

As more vendors review their own services, many are changing their options by increasing the fees for various options and getting rid of others due to the costs incurred by the provider. USA Today contributor Rob Pegoraro noted that decision-makers should focus on finding a system that will produce the fewest risks and guarantee both competitive advantages as well as service continuity.

"It's easy to suffer paralysis by analysis as you puzzle over various backup, synchronization and sharing services," Pegoraro wrote. "Instead, think about what's most likely to wipe out your data: a hard-drive crash or accidental erasure that leaves the computer and maybe most of your files intact, or the machine disappearing due to loss, theft or another calamity."

Free and inexpensive storage and backup solutions are quickly disappearing from vendor options. Users should invest in reliable data archiving solutions for their files in order to preserve their assets and ensure continuity.

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