The original DVD optical disc format specification was finalized in 1995, although test marketing of the format didn’t begin in the US until 1997. It wasn’t until around the early 2000s where DVD established itself as both a replacement to VHS video and CD-R started, and from there became the de facto optical standard.
DVD is still the standard of optical today even though the original finalized format is 17 years old. The only competition to the DVD standard – if you could even call it that – is Blu-ray, but adoption of that both in video and computer use has been agonizingly slow. Most people simply don’t bother with Blu-ray at all.
Why did people take to DVD so quickly and not Blu-ray?
The answer is that DVD is a vastly superior video format quality-wise compared to VHS, and the ability to push 4.7GB of data on to a standard DVD-5 completely blew the 700MB limit of CD-R right out of the water. There was absolutely no question DVD was better in every way.
Blu-ray on the other hand has much more of an uphill battle.
To really see the video quality of Blu-ray, you need a rather large television. As far as data storage purposes are concerned, the price point of Blu-ray blank media is still way too high (at lowest it’s still about $0.75 a disc for the 25GB BD-R flavor if bought in a spindle of 50), and furthermore can only be read in computer that have Blu-ray drives.
In other words, most people simply don’t have a legitimately good reason to dump DVD for Blu-ray as DVD works just fine for them – or they’re simply disenchanted with optical media altogether (explained below).
Why is DVD considered retro?
DVD is retro because it’s becoming increasingly common that nobody actually needs an optical drive anymore. Not for movies and not for data.
People who use Netflix for example are quite happy with it, even if the video quality is inferior to DVD or Blu-ray. Why? Because it’s just altogether more convenient. Instead of having to flip through discs or using a ridiculous big-and-clunky "carousel" or "magazine" disc system, you just pick what you want with your remote from your entire library and be done with the business. Setting up favorite titles, stopping a movie and then being able to go right back to where you left off is also a big advantage of the streaming method. And let’s not forget all the people who ripped their DVDs to external hard drives years ago and watch all their movies that way.
On the data side of things, we now have big-capacity USB sticks and cloud storage. Using fragile optical discs is just outright annoying and decidedly inconvenient when compared to a USB stick or memory card.
Consider for the moment a 32GB SDHC card is less than 25 bucks. Granted, this is far more expensive than the $0.75 you’d spend for a 25GB BD-R, but it’s just much easier to work with. Click in, write data, click out. Everything is writeable and rewriteable with no "initialization" process necessary. And who doesn’t have a card reader these days? No moving parts, no "Oh my God, I better not get a fingerprint on this" crapola, etc. The thing just works with no b.s. involved, which is all anyone wants with computer stuff in the first place.
Cloud storage is everywhere on the internet. Heck, you could even use your webmail as cloud storage (email a file to yourself and it’s technically in the cloud at that point; your only limitation is that the file(s) has to be under 20MB for most major webmail services). You’ve seen me write about cloud stuff before, with the latest being the SkyDrive app (which is quite awesome, by the way).
The only reason anyone uses DVD is because it’s dirt cheap. DVD is still the absolute cheapest way to get gigs of data storage for literally pennies. A 100-count spindle of blank DVDs is about 20 bucks at cheapest. You can even find no-name cheap-o 100-count spindles (not that I’d recommend using them) for even less than that.
However, there’s more than a few of you out there who haven’t used DVD discs in some time because you literally had no need to. In fact, I’d dare say that more than a few only need the things to play Xbox/Playstation/Wii games, play movies with or maybe install/reinstall an operating system, but not much else if anything.
I’m not telling you to stop using the DVD. If you find good use of it, great. But you know as well as I do that the actual need for DVD is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
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