The first real (I don't count the PCjr) computer I bought twenty years ago had a CD-ROM drive. It wasn't a 48X or a 32X or a 16X or even a 2X. There was one speed and that was the speed it ran at. There wasn't even a tray; there was a CD caddy which was a little case that you put your CD in and then slid it into the computer. Since those days we've seen an increase in speed in the CD-ROMs, a switch to DVDs, and now a switch to blu rays.
In those early days, there was an idea that CDs were a better way in which to store your information. This was because CDs are not affected by magnetic fields, so there wouldn't be a change of them being damaged in that way. Well, as the old Indian said, only the rocks live forever and it is now known that CDs and their successor optical media aren't perfect. This having been said, if you are going to have a computer, you need an optical drive. DVD drives are now standard; Microsoft assumes you will have one if you are going to install its operating system. If you are going to build a multimedia computer, then, it stands to reason that you will need a blu ray drive as that is the bleeding edge. (It might be a significant insight that entertainment is leading the way in technology. Maybe that has always been so.)
I've chosen this particular blu ray drive. The first consideration for me was brand name. Samsung is a name I trust. It could be that they are famous for producing crappy optical drives, but I've not heard that. The second consideration was price. At $70 this was within my comfort zone. For this I get at 48X CD drive, a 16X DVD drive, and a 12X BD drive. It will also write DVDs and CDs for me, but not blu rays. I don't think this last will be a handicap, and I do know one thing. The blu ray drives will become less expensive after "the next big thing" comes along.
This raises the question, what is the next big thing? Well, as I mentioned earlier, entertainment leads the way. Entertainment seems to be pointing toward the Cloud, as it were. The success of Instant Netflix and all of the other services that are trying to copy their model is leading me to say this.
With something that is on a media, you have to have space to store it. You if there is a format change, then you have to buy it again on the new format because your old player will break down and they don't let you fix stuff anymore. The Cloud eliminates that. While there will always be collectors and folks who like to hold it in their hands, what most people want is access. With the Cloud, you can have access to your movies on something like instant Netflix.
We are already beginning to have the same sort of model with our photos. You upload them to your favorite sights and they will store them for you and every once in a while insist that you buy something. It is but a small step from there to charging a small monthly fee for the storage not only of photos, but other media as well. Remember, the computer/information industry operates under a drug-dealer ethic. Today we give you a free sample and once you are hooked you pay, pay, pay.
Amazon lets you buy access to electronic books and allows you to access them from different devices. Wouldn't it make sense if iTunes started doing something like that as well, rather than just allowing you to move your songs from computer to computer a limited number of times?
I don't know if they'll be a new format beyond blu ray. Maybe there will. But to me it looks like we will be moving to the Cloud.