Optical Media – Next Stop, Obsolescence

Today was a bit of a slow news day (in my opinion anyway) apart from ongoing analysis over the AFACT vs iiNet case and something over the weekend about the Australian Democrats attempting to become relevant again with a call for copyright legislation on the Internet.

So I thought I’d dig up something not in the news to change things up a bit.

Optical media has been around for yonks (28 years in the case of the compact disc) but I’ve been wondering if we are getting close to scrapping it in favour of flash-based storage. Sure, we’ve only just come out the other side of the war between Blu-ray and HD DVD but I can certainly see the lower end of the optical disc market fading away into insignificance.

You might think I have gone “Ken Bruce” by making such a suggestion.

With downloadable content taking off (legal and illegal), I’d question the feasibility of the CD and to an extent the DVD. Sure, they are dirt cheap to manufacture but moving 32GB of content on CDs (anywhere between 35 to 53 discs dependent on capacity) is far from convenient and would require some sort of protective storage solution. Compare that to a 32GB USB flash drive that slips right into your pocket.

Then there is the fragility of optical media. Ever scratched, cracked or damaged an optical disc? Sometimes I have found damaged discs and have no idea how the damage occurred. Sure, you could stomp on a flash drive or drive over it in a car but I am sure it would survive being sat on and some drops. It does lose out in the waterproof stakes unless you fork out a model with such a feature.

Taking things up to the next level, cloud computing is starting to get a leg up and is an attractive storage medium with increasingly ubiquitous wireless and mobile Internet connectivity. Devices synchronised with the cloud could forgo the need for smaller portable storage media solutions.

Apart from burning one disc containing a Windows password recovery tool, I can’t remember the last time I have burnt a disc. The only discs I legitimately own are my small CD collection (I have a narrow taste) which have had their contents ripped and copied to my computers, iPod and iPhone and a few DVDs that have received similar treatment.

I’m convinced that optical media is on the way out – am I nuts? Do discs feature prominently in your digital life?

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  1. […] or semi-permanent) for video storage at least in the short to medium term (which I touched on in Optical Media – Next Stop, Obsolescence). Migration from physical to streaming media (including IPTV) won’t happen overnight and will […]

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