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. “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.

  2. “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.”

  3. 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.

  4. Yep, WebKit is fast. There are few bugs, but it’s FAST!

    There was no HD disk debate, because it was up in the air until a few weeks ago. Now that Blu-ray wins, the question arises.

    As for the headline… there’s NO WAY the MacBook (or an iMac or mini) would get a Blu-ray drive. Maybe we’ll see them offered for Pro machines, but not too soon, though.

    Suck on THIS, MAC dorks.

  5. Modern graphics chips handle H.264 so there’s no CPU load, but the laser is another issue. Let’s just hope that those nano technology lithium ion batteries start rolling out of the production line straight in to MacBooks.

  6. Hi Reality Check,

    1/ I don’t know what repairing permissions does but in Tiger it solved a host of problems and rejuvenated the system for a time.

    2/ I haven’t tried it with Leopard because it would hang for hours. That might be fixed now?

    3/ Are you the same Reality Check who I see at a certain political blog in the Caribbean?

  7. why does anyone need a BR drive on a laptop? Give me a break no one needs BR HD on a 15″ computer screen. If you need a disc to store 50gb of data then this is a niche product for a handful of pros.
    I’d rather have a better screen first on my macbook.
    This will be limited to the pro line for professional photogs.
    How many people even use their DVD burning capabilities on notebooks.

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