Blu-ray MacBook? First Apple must tackle HD format’s power-hungry ways

“Watching a Blu-ray movie in all its high-definition glory on your laptop may finally become an affordable prospect this year. Just don’t wander too far from a power outlet,” Bryan Gardiner reports for Wired.

“With the Sony-backed HD format emerging victorious from a two-year showdown with Toshiba’s HD DVD, many laptop manufacturers are now scrambling to add Blu-ray drives in their desktop and notebook lineups,” Gardiner reports.

“If the first generation of Blu-ray equipped laptops are any indication, you might not get more than halfway through that movie before running out of juice completely, analysts say,” Gardiner reports. “‘Blu-ray battery life is obviously a huge concern,’ says Yankee Group analyst Josh Martin.”

“For now, the laptop manufacturers that have offered Blu-ray drives have also avoided revealing the precise effects of Blu-ray playback on battery life. That’s probably for a very good reason, as some claim battery life can top out at one hour in some cases,” Gardiner reports.

“‘The laser that runs the show [in Blu-ray players] is a very high-power laser,’ notes Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron. That laser is one of the main things that conspire to raise power consumption,” Gardiner reports. “The other part of the equation has to do with the process of decoding data from a Blu-ray disc and turning it into moving images on your screen. When Blu-ray was first introduced, this process was all done in software, which is very taxing on the CPU, eating up processing cycles and power… The solution has come by offloading some of the decode process onto other system hardware.”

More in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “MacVicta” for the heads up.]


  1. surely the next revision of the iMac must be due soon and include blu-ray drive. No power issues and even Dull have got them out the door already. Here’s hoping necxt week SJ will announce iMac BD.

  2. “Why does my cursor disappear in Safari when I go into the upper left corner to select my bookmarks or do anything else up in that area?”

    It often has something to do with those pesky advertisements that change your cursor from the Mac cursor to a cursor within the advertisement. For some reason, sometimes they act on the cursor outside the area that the advertisement is contained. Don’t ask me why, but this is my theory on why it happens…


  3. Pat called these “problems,” but it’s just a fact. Maybe a hybrid drive has/would have both kinds of lasers. And maybe it would use regular power on non-Blue Ray discs. Maybe Apple – just hypothesizing here – maybe they could design a slightly thicker MacBook (considering the Air is going the other way – thinner) and re-introduce the old swappable drive modules like the PowerBook 3400c had back in the day. You could pull out the optical battery and swap for a hard drive – or a second battery… Anyway, why not have a standard DVD/-R/RW and optionally swap for a Blue Ray when needed or something? I don’t know. These are just questions I need to consider before embracing panic or disdain.

  4. mAc-Warrior

    So… Your theory…. to paraphrase Miss Anne Elk: “… this is what it is – my theory that I have, that is to say, which is mine, is mine”

    And now for something completely different…

  5. “Why does my cursor disappear in Safari when I go into the upper left corner to select my bookmarks or do anything else up in that area?”

    I used to see that but it’s been a while. Maybe it quit with 10.5.1 or 10.5.2, or maybe when I started using Safari’s WebKit nightly builds (but I think it quit long before that).

    You should try WebKit. It’s damn fast.

  6. “The Mobile GM45/47 chipsets are an integral part of Montevina and will feature the new GMA X4500HD graphics core. The X4500HD will add full hardware H.264 decode acceleration, so Apple could begin shipping MacBook Pros with Blu-ray drives after the Montevina upgrade without them being a futile addition. With full hardware H.264 decode acceleration your CPU would be somewhere in the 0 – 10% range of utilization while watching a high definition movie, allowing you to watch a 1080p movie while on battery power. The new graphics core will also add integrated HDMI and DisplayPort support.”

  7. Blu-ray battery life is obviously a huge concern

    But I thought Blu-ray was superior. Where was this concern before HD-DVD died?

    I agree with Pat, this IS like politics. Promise a better way, then be no different than the guy you just beat.

    Maybe Apple can fast-forward the bandwidth and wi-fi things, making Blu-ray a non-issue.

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