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Portables Media Power Hardware

Blu-ray In Laptops Could Be Hard On Batteries 202

Posted by kdawson
from the power-vampire dept.
damienhunter notes a Wired story on the power-hungry ways of the first generation of Blu-ray players coming soon to a laptop near you. "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. Next month, Dell will even introduce a sub-$1,000 Blu-ray notebook... But the promise of viewing an increasing variety of HD movies on your laptop may be overshadowed by ongoing concerns over the technology's vampiric effect on battery life. Indeed, 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."
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Blu-ray In Laptops Could Be Hard On Batteries

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  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:45AM (#22599704) Homepage Journal

    Blu-ray discs have optional support for "Managed copy". For those discs that enable it, there's nothing stopping the manufacturers from shipping a tool allowing the user to copy the disc to the laptop's hard drive in a form that's easier to play. The user can build a library of stored content while the laptop is plugged in, and then watch it when it's not. Supporting this feature would also beat carrying around discs everywhere. I can honestly say I've used my laptops to watch full DVDs four or five times in the entire time I've had the capability, it's just not as practical as it appears, and I hate taking discs on vacation with me that I might lose.

    HD DVD made "managed copy" mandatory for discs with DRM, but, alas, it's Blu-ray that's the remaining widely supported HD disc format. (I'm not calling it the victor, it still has to beat downloads, and SD.)

  • Re:Better batteries? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:53AM (#22599766)
    You mean innovations like this [gizmag.com]?
  • Re:Problem solved.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by evilviper (135110) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:54AM (#22599786) Journal

    Just plug the power in, rip the movies to your hard disk, and take the disc out.

    Except the main consumer of power is maxing out the CPU to do the highdef H.264 decoding in real time.

    Last time I checked, you could get a pretty good HD quality movie down to about 8GB with Divx, without any real quality drop.

    Words cannot adequately describe how idiotic that statement is... Divx is MPEG-4 ASP, much older and less advanced than H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, which is the primary codec used to encode highdef discs.

    How in the world you're expecting to use an OLD codec to reencode a video stored in a NEW codec, to reduce the file-size of a video by a factor of 5, while NOT losing HUGE amounts of picture quality, is vastly beyond my comprehension.
  • Re:Problem solved.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:55AM (#22599796) Homepage Journal
    What effect does decoding a hidef movie have on the power consumption for your laptop cpu and memory?
    This problem is not limited to illuminating the laser.
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Friday February 29, 2008 @10:58AM (#22599830)
    See my earlier post [slashdot.org] on this subject.
  • Re:Problem solved.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by FSWKU (551325) on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:13AM (#22600012)

    Last time I checked, you could get a pretty good HD quality movie down to about 8GB with Divx, without any real quality drop.
    Sorry, but you're wrong. There WILL be quality loss. The h.264 codec used by both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD allow for much higher compression ratios with less loss of quality. This means that you can keep the same size and get more quality, or you can keep the same quality and drop the filesize.

    Case in point, I have a couple of projects I've done with DVD footage. The DivX/XviD version comes to about 95mb. The exact same thing encoded in h.264 at the exact same quality (720x480) clocks in at about 45mb. If I kept the same filesize, I could scale it up to 1280x720 easily (would look like ass since the source isn't that high to begin with, but you see the point). There is no way you could take a high-def movie and compress it to 8gb in DivX without sacrificing quality.

    The only win you're going to get with this route is saving power due to decreased CPU usage. Rendering h.264 video in realtime is notoriously taxing on CPU's, ESPECIALLY at HD resolutions. But if you drop the quality, you lose the entire point of having a high-def copy in the first place.

    And to the people talking about the lasers eating up power, yes they do. To an extent. Along with maxing out the CPU, the biggest drain on the battery is the drive itself. It's a moving part. It spins. ANY optical drive when in constant use is going to drain the battery a lot faster than just sitting idle or reading a few files every couple of minutes.
  • Re:Problem solved.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by evilviper (135110) on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:21AM (#22600116) Journal

    Some codecs are invented for the sole purpose of adding meta-info to a media file, adding DRM, or changing the way it can be streamed (or not) over a network.

    I happen to be a professional, and I know of NO such codecs. Not one.

    DRM, metadata, and streaming are completely and totally independent of the underlying video and audio codecs.

    many people are very happy with the quality that can be achieved with XviD using a few gigs of data and can barely tell the difference between that and a H.264 uber NEW 25+MBps HD+++ codec.

    Some people are very happy with vinyl records. Some people are legally blind. That does not change the facts.

    I will ignore the rest of your purely trolling comment.
  • Re:Usual story (Score:3, Informative)

    by qoncept (599709) on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:21AM (#22600118) Homepage
    Have you ever WATCHED anything in HD? I ask, but I'm already assuming you haven't. The difference is night and day. I won't argue that it makes watching a movie any more enjoyable, especially while travelling, but the difference in the picture is huge. That was a pretty long winded comment to have such a glaring hole.
  • Re:Does anyone know? (Score:3, Informative)

    by pnewhook (788591) on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:23AM (#22600130)

    Reading does require less power than writing, but the power requirements are also related to read speed. So the laser on a 12x DVD reader needs to be higher power than one on a 1x DVD reader. Similar for Blu-ray.

  • by pnewhook (788591) on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:32AM (#22600252)

    If the laser in a Blu-ray drive uses remotely as much as your CPU or LCD backlight, you're going to be burning a hole through your laptop in just a few minutes... Where does the media go to always find these moronic analysts?

    I agree - that's a misleading and idiotic quote from the analyst.

    Older 1GHz laptop CPUs use about 10W, while newer CPUs that you would probably want for higher end graphics capability are 30W or more (that's only the CPU not counting the GPU). A laser diode is about 5mW for reading and on the order of 200mW for burning. As far as I can tell there is no real power requirement difference between Blu-Ray and a high speed DVD RW drive.

    And laser power is definitely not the major driver in laptop battery life - the big power draws are the CPU, large LCD panels and WiFi.

  • by thedletterman (926787) <thedletterman.hotmail@com> on Friday February 29, 2008 @11:35AM (#22600294) Homepage
    It makes it easier on the CPU, but you're still consuming the power to decode. I'm sure it helps to a degree, but "quite a bit easier" on power consumption is still an over statement.
  • Re:Problem solved.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by slackito (985667) on Friday February 29, 2008 @12:35PM (#22601146) Homepage

    I would a million times rather have the 1366x768 of 720i/p.
    The "720" in "720p" stands for the number of lines, and 1280x720 is exactly 720p. At least, that's what wikipedia says [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Problem solved.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by pthor1231 (885423) on Friday February 29, 2008 @12:41PM (#22601240)
    It's even worse that that, he can't even read the pages he links. From the matroska project front page (Emphasis mine):

    First, it is essential to clarify exactly "What an Audio/Video container is", to avoid any misunderstandings:
    * It is NOT a video or audio compression format (video codec)

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren

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