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The Blu-ray Disc (BD), often known simply as Blu-ray, is a digital optical disc data storage format. It was invented and developed in 2005 and released on June 20, 2006 worldwide. It is designed to supersede the DVD format, and capable of storing several hours of high-definition video (HDTV 720p and 1080p). The main application of Blu-ray is as a medium for video material such as feature films and for the physical distribution of video games for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The name "Blu-ray" refers to the blue laser (which is actually a violet laser) used to read the disc, which allows information to be stored at a greater density than is possible with the longer-wavelength red laser used for DVDs.
The first consumer device arrived in stores on April 10, 2003: the Sony BDZ-S77, a US$3,800 BD-RE recorder that was made available only in Japan. However, there was no standard for pre-recorded video, and no movies were released for this player. Hollywood studios insisted that players be equipped with digital rights management before they would release movies for the new format, and they wanted a new DRM system that would be more secure than the failed Content Scramble System (CSS) used on DVDs. On October 4, 2004, the name "Blu-ray Disc Founders" was officially changed to the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), and 20th Century Fox joined the BDA's Board of Directors. The Blu-ray Disc physical specifications were completed in 2004.
Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator (AACS LA), a consortium founded in 2004, had been developing the DRM platform that could be used to securely distribute movies to consumers. However, the final AACS standard was delayed, and then delayed again when an important member of the Blu-ray Disc group voiced concerns. At the request of the initial hardware manufacturers, including Toshiba, Pioneer, and Samsung, an interim standard was published that did not include some features, such as managed copy.
The first BD-ROM players (Samsung BD-P1000) were shipped in mid-June 2006, though HD DVD players beat them to market by a few months. The first Blu-ray Disc titles were released on June 20, 2006: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, Underworld: Evolution, xXx (all from Sony), and MGM's The Terminator. The earliest releases used MPEG-2 video compression, the same method used on standard DVDs. The first releases using the newer VC-1 and AVC formats were introduced in September 2006. The first movies using 50 GB dual-layer discs were introduced in October 2006. The first audio-only albums were released in May 2008.
Following these new developments, on February 19, 2008, Toshiba announced it would end production of HD DVD devices, allowing Blu-ray Disc to become the industry standard for high-density optical discs. Universal Studios, the sole major studio to back HD DVD since its inception, said shortly after Toshiba's announcement: "While Universal values the close partnership we have shared with Toshiba, it is time to turn our focus to releasing new and catalog titles on Blu-ray Disc." Paramount Pictures, which started releasing movies only in HD DVD format during late 2007, also said it would start releasing on Blu-ray Disc. Both studios announced initial Blu-ray lineups in May 2008. With this, all major Hollywood studios supported Blu-ray.
Blu-ray faces competition from video on demand and from new technologies that allow access to movies on any format or device, such as Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem or Disney's Keychest. Some commentators suggested that renting Blu-ray would play a vital part in keeping the technology affordable while allowing it to move forward. In an effort to increase sales, studios began releasing films in combo packs with Blu-ray Discs and DVDs, as well as digital copies that can be played on computers and mobile devices. Some are released on "flipper" discs with Blu-ray on one side and DVD on the other. Other strategies are to release movies with the special features only on Blu-ray Discs and none on DVDs.
For users recording digital television programming, the recordable Blu-ray Disc standard's initial data rate of 36 Mbit/s is more than adequate to record high-definition broadcasts from any source (IPTV, cable/satellite, or terrestrial). BD Video movies have a maximum data transfer rate of 54 Mbit/s, a maximum AV bitrate of 48 Mbit/s (for both audio and video data), and a maximum video bit rate of 40 Mbit/s. This compares to HD DVD movies, which have a maximum data transfer rate of 36 Mbit/s, a maximum AV bitrate of 30.24 Mbit/s, and a maximum video bitrate of 29.4 Mbit/s.
Sony added Blu-ray 3D support to its PlayStation 3 console via a firmware upgrade on September 21, 2010. The console had previously gained 3D gaming capability via an update on April 21, 2010. Since the version 3.70 software update on August 9, 2011, the PlayStation 3 can play DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio while playing 3D Blu-ray. Dolby TrueHD is used on a small minority of Blu-ray 3D releases, and bitstreaming implemented in slim PlayStation 3 models only (original "fat" PS3 models decode internally and send audio as LPCM). The PlayStation VR can also be used to watch these movies in 3D on a PlayStation 4. As of 2018, most major home entertainment studios, such as Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures, MGM, and Universal Pictures had discontinued the Blu-ray 3D format in North America, but continued to produce and sell them in other regions such as South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Paramount Pictures has ceased sales and productions of 3D Blu-ray Discs all over the world, its last 3D releases being Ghost in the Shell and Transformers: The Last Knight, while Warner Bros. still continues to sell and produce 3D Blu-ray Discs to this day in all regions, notable titles including: Wonder Woman, Blade Runner 2049, Justice League, Tomb Raider, Rampage, Aquaman, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Shazam!, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. 2b1af7f3a8