Sunday, July 21, 2024

Sony kills off recordable Blu-ray and says goodbye to disc recording

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What just happened? For home videographers and data hoarders who still rely on optical discs for archiving, there’s some bad news: Sony is shutting down production of Blu-ray recordable media. The last factory in the world that produces those massive 100GB triple-layer and 128GB quad-layer BDXL discs is preparing to shut down its lines for good.

In a recent interview with AV Watch, Sony admitted that it will “gradually end development and production” of recordable Blu-rays and other optical disc formats at its plants in Tagajo City in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Essentially, 25GB BD-RE, 50GB BD-RE DL, 100GB BD-RE XL, or 128GB BD-R XL will soon no longer be available to consumers. Professional discs for video production and optical discs for data storage are also being discontinued.

Sony says it’s pulling the plug because the cold storage market never took off as they hoped, and the storage media business in general has been operating in the red for years. As the company put it bluntly: “We need to overhaul our business structure to improve profitability.”

But it’s not all bad news. The commercial Blu-ray discs on which you buy movies and games will continue to be produced, so there’s no need to panic about the death of physical media just yet.

The Tagajo factory is something of a legend; it’s the only place left that could make those massive 128GB quad-layer BDXL beasts. The engineers there were so dedicated that they kept developing new triple-layer disk technology even right after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

With the shutdown of disc production, Sony is also offering voluntary early retirement packages to up to 250 of the plant’s 670 employees. The specific closure date is yet to be determined, but consumer disc sales will continue “for the time being” until current stocks at retailers are exhausted. B2B customers will also continue to have discs “in stock” for a while longer.

If burning 100GB Blu-ray discs is still part of your data preservation strategy, you’d better start stocking up on those blank BDXL discs and drives while you can. Prices will skyrocket once supply dwindles.

It’s the end of an era for disc-based backups. Sony first brought recordable Blu-ray to market for consumers back in 2003, giving us 25GB of space per disc – a huge leap from DVDs. Over the next 15 years, they crammed more and more data onto discs, reaching 50GB, then 100GB, and finally the 128GB BDXL format in 2018.


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