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1/20/06 Demystifying those confusing DVD formats

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 19, 2006 4:30 AM PST
Question:

Hi, I'm going to buy a new DVD player/burner for my computer soon, but I don't know what kind of format to choose. There are burners for DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and even dual-layer ones, and many players that support a combination of the formats. I've also been reading some about DVD-RAM, HD-DVD and Blu-ray--just enough to confuse me more! Can you tell me what the specific difference is between these formats so that I can make the best buying decision for current and future use? Help me, please!

Submitted by: Andy T. of Ogden, Utah

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Answer:


It?s best to tackle several categories of DVD media separately, then understand that they get combined to form a whole bunch of different media.

The first distinction is + media vs. - media. These two classes of DVD media, developed separately by different groups of engineers, are conceptually the same from an end user's perspective, but internally they are made differently, and they work differently. What you need to know is that they are different, and that you cannot automatically assume interchangeability. While virtually all recorders made today can record both types, at one time, a recorder was either + or - and would work only with that type of media, and many of these single-format recorders are still around. So you need to know if your recorder (or any other recorders that you plan to use) are dual format or single format. You can actually tell what the recorder will handle from the logos on the front of the recorder. The groups that created the two formats created unique logos, and one of the licensing requirements is that the respective logo must be present if the recorder handles that format (I?d love to show you the logos, but I don?t know how to include graphics in this response).

On the player side, about 80% of players (and just about 100% of newer players) will play both types, but, again, you may run into players that play only one format or the other. The bad part that there is no way to tell other than by trying a sample of recorded media, and in a few cases players may also be finicky about the brand of media. So, really, to be absolutely sure, you have to actually try the media that you plan to use. However, most modern computer drives to play both, where you usually see issues is with older ?set top box? DVD players.

As a comment here, my own experience, and I know that most experienced DVD users would agree, is that the ?-? media is slightly more compatible than the ?+? media, which is interesting because during the design phase, and ?on paper?, it was supposed to be just the other way around. But the ?real world? didn?t read the design specs.

Now that we have the +/- issue resolved, the +/- will be followed by ?R? or ?RW?. ?R? media is ?one-time? media; recording is permanent and cannot be erased (you can, however, ?add to? a partially recorded ?R? DVD, if it was recorded in multi-session by recording software that supports this). On the other hand ?RW? media can be erased and reused, becoming ?completely blank? media over and over again.

One comment here, however, I?d recommend that you avoid ?RW? media for permanent projects. It is not as stable as ?R? media, and many, many people have found that a recorded ?RW? disc ?faded? over time and that the data (their recording) was lost. RW media is also both slower and more expensive (a LOT more expensive) the ?R? media, so I think that the best advice is probably just to avoid it.

So that takes care of 4 media types: DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW.

Now we can add ?dual layer?, which you will see as a ?DL? suffix. This media has almost twice the capacity of single layer media (9 gigabytes vs. 4.7 gigabytes). Currently, DL media is only commonly found as ?+R? media, although ?-R? dual layer media has been approved and may be found on the market in the future. The long term reliability and compatibility of DL recording is unproven, although my own experiences with it so far have been good.

DVD Ram is an older format that you can pretty much ignore.

HD DVD and Blu-Ray (BR or BD) are specifications for future drives with very high capacity (25 to 100 gigabytes), however neither one of them is currently in production and on the market as drives that you can add to a PC (however that will change in a matter of months). At this time, HD DVD and BR are totally incompatible and neither format will work on any drives designed for the other format. However, I would not be surprised to see ?dual format? drives for these two formats at some point, but it?s years away, since even the single format drives are not yet on the market.

As for your purchase decision, you want a dual-layer, dual format drive. This will do just about anything, it supports all of the formats. However, virtually all drives currently being manufactured fit this description, so it doesn?t do much to help you narrow the choices. The top brands of drives, in my opinion, are Pioneer, NEC, Sony, Benq (Acer) and LG (other users will have their own preferences and ranking).

One thing you didn?t ask about is ?Lightscribe?, which is a technology for writing a ?label? to the non-data side of the media. To do this you need a drive that supports this and special ?lightscribe? media that has a laser photosensitive surface on the label side. Whether or not this is of value to you is a personal choice, but keep in mind the time required to use this feature, not only to write the label side, but to design and compose it as well. Lightscribe drives are now available from several vendors.

Submitted by: Barry W. of North Canton, OH
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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 19, 2006 4:30 AM PST
Answer:

Andy,

The simple answer: Get one that supports multiple formats. Most these days already do that.

A little history lesson is due here.

A while back when the DVD standard was being hammered out, rival companies got together to(much like the consortia (consortiums?) behind the HD DVD and Blu-Ray formats) set out to replace the common compact disc. They set out to create a standard that would dominate the marketplace. And in so doing, they created numerous types of disc formats - ranging in size from about 1.4 GB all the way up to 18 GB.

The mainstream survivors of these wars today are the DVD+R and DVD-R. Adding a W to the end of either one means the disc can be erased and rewritten multiple times. The main difference between the two formats would be in the way the data is written to the DVD. Their capacity is identical. Their durability is about the same. There isn't much to distinguish one format from the other.

Your average typical DVD these days will be either a +R or -R format disc. They will both hold 4.71 GB worth of data or movies. Occasionally, you might run into a DVD-RAM disc. But they're fairly rare. Most DVD+/-R blanks will cost you anywhere from about 20 cents a piece and up. The RW's will cost a bit more.

However, there IS one important consideration - your home DVD player - the one hooked up to the TV. It's important to get a burner and blanks that will work with it should you happen to want to make DVDs of home movies and such. Most modern players will support both formats, but it never hurts to find out ahead of time. Fortunately, there IS a web site that can help. They have reviews of most players on the market as well as information as to which formats it will support. Visit http://www.videohelp.com to check to see what your DVD player supports.

The latest thing to arrive on the scene would be the dual layer DVD. Most movies on the market today come on Dual Layer (DL) DVDs. These have a maximum of 9 GB capacity. The dual layer scheme - as the name suggests - means the blank DVD has two readable/writable layers. The laser used to read/write the disc uses two frequencies of light to do its thing. At one frequency, the bottom layer is opaque and is able to be read while at the other frequency, the bottom layer is transparent, allowing the deeper layer to be read/written to.

DL DVDs are still fairly expensive - going for as much as $2.50 a piece. However, the prices for this WILL eventually come down.

Now then, there's HD DVD and Blu-Ray. These are next generation optical storage formats. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Neither one is commonly available yet as their standards are still not quite 100% ready for prime time. The HD DVD has a capacity of about 30 GB while Blu-Ray has 50 GB space.

For the moment, I wouldn't worry too much about either. In a few years, after the standards have been finished, and when the prices have fallen to reasonable levels (after the R&D bill has been paid off), you might consider purchasing one or the other - depending on which survives the standards/format war. Being an early adopter at this point will be quite expensive.

I would therefore recommend buying a DVD burner that will do both DVD+R and -R, RW's and Dual Layer DVDs. Pretty much all DVD burners will also burn regular CDs as well so you're covered in case you should happen to need to burn a CD. A good one will usually cost between $45 and 60.

There is one further piece of advice. Avoid Sony and Plextor brand burners. My experience with them is that they're junk. Sony's drives are made by Plextor and while Plextor has made really great CD burners in the past, their DVD efforts have been less than spectacular. You might want to consider any of the following brands: LG, Phillips, NEC, Benq, Samsung or Acer.

Note: The above has NOTHING to do with any boycott of Sony for their recent DRM fiasco. Their drives are overpriced junk. They don't last very long and aren't worth the money.

Burning speed: Most DVD burners these days will burn DVDs faster than they typically are read when playing a movie - up to 16X for regular +/-R discs and up to 4x on the dual layer discs. What this means is you can burn a DVD at up to 16 times the normal read speed for a DVD movie. Typically, an 8x DVD can be burned in about 8-9 minutes as opposed to taking 2+ hours to burn the disc at 1X speed. Faster, in this case, is better. The faster the DVD can be written to also usually means the more money the blank will cost. 16X blanks are astronomically expensive at the moment going for as little as
$3.99 and up.

Submitted by: Pete Z.

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Answer:


Well Andy, the important thing to consider whenever you?re buying a DVD burner is what you?re planning to use it for. As you may have noticed, different designations on CDs and DVDs are also accompanied by things like ?Music?, ?Data?, ?Video? and the like. Now while in reality you can use DVD-R?s, DVD+R?s and other burnable DVDs for multiple things besides what the manufacturer intended it helps to know what they are best for. Because of encoding methods these designations show what they are best for, if you know the skinny on each one. Any DVD-R, DVD-RW or one with a minus in it, aside from DVD-RAM (that?s a special case) are particularly good for data recording, which means things like files, programs and the like.

Anything with a plus in it DVD+R, DVD+RW and the like are particularly good for video, such as home movies. DVD-RAM is a special kind of DVD which is actually stored in a cartridge, usually found in DVD camcorders, and acts like a sort of DVD hard drive. DVD-RAMs then are really only an issue for being read by a burner if you use a DVD camcorder, but not to be burned since you?re only going to need to burn DVD-RAMs in a compatible camcorder.

As for dual-layer, or double-layer, it?s a specially-designed DVD that has twice the storage space on it. The same +/- designation advice applies to dual layer ones as well, just with twice the space. There?s also something called Lightscribe, which is a proprietary label burning technology by HP which uses a specially-coated CD that can have a label burned on it when put into a Lightscribe-compatible burner, instead of dealing with the hassle of a CD stomper to affix your labels (if you?re like me and don?t like to write on your CD-RWs and such and might want to change the content later).

The best thing to do would be to find a DVD burner that has at least DVD-R/RW capability, and if possible DVD+R/RW, which isn?t hard nowadays. If you find one you like with dual-layer burning for a good price, with all the other stuff then that would probably be your best bet. Look for burners that have good reviews from people who own and use it, but also look for good tech support. I recently bought a slim-profile DVD burner from a company that had little or no tech support and when there was any it was in broken English and couldn?t help me out at all. I personally recommend the HP dvd740e if you?re looking for something that supports pretty much all of the DVD designations you need and has Lightscribe as well.

Submitted by: Tim H.

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Answer:


Well, Andy, the DVD formats basically falls into 3 categories:
past, present, and future. Here's what you need to know about them.

Past: DVD-RAM is more like a hard drive than a DVD. It is very seldomly used now, so you don't have to worry about this standard. .

Present: DVD-R/RW / DVD+R/RW / Dual Layer: There's really just two versions, the + type, and the - type, each with three types of media (R, RW, DL), R stands for recordable, write-once only, RW stands for re-writable, can be erased and re-written..DL stands for Dual-Layer and is a subtype of R (recordable) with 2 layers on the same side, and almost double the capacity than the regular single-layer R type.

The + and the - standards were developed by 2 separate consortiums and aren't that really different. The - standard came out first, but both
+ and - should work in standalone DVD players for the most part.

You can find one writer that supports them all (all six types), and even write CD-R/RW's, for under $50 if you shop carefully.

Future: HD-DVD / Blu-Ray are the upcoming standards. The standards aren't set yet, so there is no point in worrying about them. We may see the first consumer drives with those standards later this year, but the initial high prices and likely compatibility problems means they are for early adopters only.

So all in all, just shop for a DVD writer that is compatible with all six of the present DVD standards (+R, +RW, +DL, -R, -RW, -DL), and you should be fine for the near future.

Submitted by: Kasey C. of San Francisco, CA, USA

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Answer:


Answer: Although asking the right questions is always important when buying a new piece of hardware, in this case you don?t really have to worry as most of the drives you will find today can burn all formats (in some cases, with the exceptions of DVD-RAM). DVD+R and DVD-R discs offer the same amount of storage, 4.7 Gigabytes, and can be written to once. For backward compatibility with older DVD players, DVD ? R is preferable since it was the first format introduced. Some drives will write faster on DVD + R. The maximum speeds to write to these will never reach beyond 16X.

DVD+RW and DVD-RW are both erasable discs that offer about the same characteristics as their non-rewritable counterpart (4.7 Gigabytes).

As for dual layer, this technology is also progressing to the point of being very common although discs cost quite a bit more than single layer discs. Dual layer, as the name implies, offers two layers or content and so the disc capacity reaches 8.5 Gigabytes for the same ?shelf space?. Just try and get a drive that burns double layers at 6 or 8X.

DVD-RAM is a less commonly used format that is usually stored in a clear cartridge and can be written to and erased any number of times. You cannot watch a DVD-RAM disc on your home DVD player (unless you have a very very recent tabletop player or recorder that actually uses DVD-RAM). Its applications mostly concern computer backups.

The most advanced drive you can get today is 16X for DVD+ and - R, 8X for double layer, 8X for DVD+RW (rewritable). One thing you might want to consider is a company that offers firmware updates on their website. Once you decide between one or two models, go to that company?s website and see if they have regular firmware updates that will 1-make the drive compatible with more media and 2-increase read and write speeds across different media. One last thing to look at is bundled software. Anything by Nero is fantastic.

As for next generation formats, there is not an analyst in the world that can predict with any certainty what format will prevail in the war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, so best leave it alone for now, there is no media available as of now anyway. We will not know for 12-18 months at the very least if a clear winner emerges. It?ll be even longer before the formats are widespread enough to be affordable.

Last thing: once you settle on a drive, your first task will be to get samples of different blank media and check which is compatible with your home player (if you plan on turning those vacation videos into DVDs your whole family can watch on your TV). Start with DVD-R. Good luck.

Submitted by: Nicolas L. of Quebec City, Canada

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Andy,

If you need a new drive now, get yourself a dual layer drive which will write both plus and minus formats. This drive will also handle earlier single layer formats.

The new drive standards, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD will be a while coming, and a longer while getting into a reasonable price range. Right now, you can buy a dual layer, great drive for under $50 if you look around a little. DVD-RAM has been available for a while and is best suited, in my opinion, to use as a temporary storage mode when you want to keep your hard drive free. I put pictures and other space-demanding files onto a DVD-RAM, and then organize them there and write them to permanent storage - usually CD.

DVD-RAM is a nice format. I have used it for several years with no problems. One drive died and was replaced, but the data are fine.

I really do not know what to make of BLU-Ray and the HD formats coming soon. For present applications they are not necessary. If, however, you plan to store high density video, then these formats will be necessary. More space than is available on a DL DVD drive is simply excess space for current needs.

For example, consider saving all of your emails, including all of the spam. You can probably put it all on a CD, together with a lot of other stuff you are not sure about. You can then put several years on a DVD with metal azo dye and maybe save it for 100 years. At that time your heirs and assigns can try to understand why you saved it. Or, you can take all of the eight-megapixel photos from your fancy digital still camera. Nearly 100 will fit on a CD uncompressed. A CD is a nice way to store pictures from a particular trip or event, but if you are long on trips or events a DVD will hold about seven times as much, with storage capability which depends on the dye. You need to archive to metal azo dye, and store in a cool, dry place.

Now, all of this leads to the demonstration that having more than single layer or single sided DVD's is probably overkill. For one thing, most of your photos are probably stored compressed to some degree and you can put a lot on one CD or one DVD. Having a medium which will take more data is necessary only for the next stage of storage needs - high density video and possibly commercial needs for the future still cameras. I can tell you that, were they so inclined, NASA could still store all of the 139,850 images taken by both mars rovers in the past two years on two double-layer DVD's.

Now to the final issue, before this gets too long. What about durability of data with the new formats?

Right now, with slower CD's using good dyes and reflecting surfaces, it is projected that data may be stored for about a human lifetime. The same goes for DVD's which are single layered. I have not encountered dual layer DVD's with azo dyes yet. How do these figures appear from the sky? Presumably someone tests for data longevity at progressively higher temperatures and longer times to develop a curve which will then be extended for lower temperatures to give a hint about longevity in a cool place. (That is where you need to story your data - cool and dry).

Now there is one thing wrong with this. The only place the data is presented is by the vendors or manufacturers. I am not aware of an independent test facility. In my experience, using a laminator to overlay plastic on top of a CD which has been labeled with an inkjet printer, at one temperature the data is not affected and at a slightly higher temp the dye layer liquifies - that's right, it liquifies. That means that the hot end of the curve is not very long. Therefore, I predict that the curve made by a manufacturer eager to sell his product does not have lots of data points over years. This means that the cool end of the curve is little more than a hopeful guess. If there were independent facilities for this testing, by the time they got datapoints enough for a good projection for years ahead guess what! Yes, the disc would be obsolete.

Add to this the fact that the newer formats have not been tested by consumers yet. Yes, consumers are the ultimate test-bed. Think Vioxx. Blu-Ray will have an incredibly thin but hard layer over the dye. Will this hold up? HD DVD will have a thicker layer, meaning a lower capacity for storage. Will it be a better bet for that reason? How about dyes sensitive to blue light. Will they be more stable than those sensitive to long wavelengths? Information, you know, is lost with time. It is a corollary of the second law of thermodynamics.

In the early days of personal computers a person could do about what he wanted with 16 KB ram and a floppy. Now the programs have hugely extended features, many if not most worthless, and require megabytes. Computers have grown to provide those megabytes and the needed speed. In stead of providing a nice means of editing and formatting a document as Word once did, it now can give you largely erroneous grammar suggestions, frustrating autocorrections to words you do not intend, automatic reformats to Microsoft-only-knows-why useless formats which you never intended (and can't undo) and many other benefits.

Probably by the time Blu-ray and HD DVD are ready and better tested, there will be some new necessary evil which will fill their space. It is Parkinson's Law.

Submitted by: Ralph D.

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Andy,

While all the letters and signs (DVD-, +, R, RW, RAM, DL) can be confusing, the good news is that most new computer burners and set-top players can read most, if not all formats.

When DVDs came out, there was never a unified format, so we are stuck with DVD+ and DVD- discs. Each disc can either be purchased in R (write-once) and RW (rewritable) forms. Unless you plan on reusing the discs, you don't need to spend the extra money on RWs.

DVD- discs are commonly recognized in most DVD players, though the DVD player I own recognizes both + and - formats. DVD+ discs generally have faster write times, and newer players can read both. DVD+RW discs are my favorite to use for my home-theater based DVD recorder. They can record programs, and without being finalized, they can be played in other DVD players or computers, then returned to the DVD recorder and erased. But if you don't have a DVD recorder, DVD+RW discs aren't totally necessary.

Next you have dual-layer vs. single-layer discs. Single-layer DVD discs can store 4.7 GB of data, while a dual-layer doubles that. Many new DVD movies are on dual-layer discs so the movie and the special features can be stored on a single disc. Not all DVD burners are capable of burning dual-layered discs. However, there is no hardware difference between a single-layer and dual-layer burner, only a firmware change, so the cost between the two is minimal.

DVD-RAM discs are primarily used for DVD camcorders, though many of the new camcorders are moving towards the +/- discs, or can use all three forms. Most DVD burners are capable of reading and writing on these. Probably the biggest advantage of DVD-RAM is that it can be rewritten over 100,000 times whereas the DVD+ and -RW discs have a rewrite capacity of 1,000 times. However, DVD-RAM discs are a bit harder to come by and may not work in DVD players so are not the best choice for making movies.

A good resource for disc formats can be found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/2004/07/07/double/index.html

Blu-Ray (made by Sony) and HD-DVD (made by Toshiba) discs are the two options for the next format of DVDs. Blue lasers focus light on a smaller wavelength, so more data can be stored on an identical-sized disc. They are capable of storing upwards of 27 GB of data on a single-layered disc, and 44-50 GB on a dual-layer. HD-DVD disc can hold 30 GB of data on a dual-layer disc, 15 on a single. While Blu-ray can store more data, HD-DVD discs are cheaper and easier to produce (requiring only slight modifications in current disc manufacturing hardware), and may even be able to play on current DVD players, though they would not look any better than standard DVDs. Currently, it looks like Sony has more movie studios supporting its Blu-ray format, but it also looks like a format war is unavoidable. These discs and players are just emerging, and if burners are available, they won't be cheap. Unless you're a tech geek, or want the absolute best for your HD TV I would wait a bit before getting into Blu-ray or HD-DVD.

Here's a link explaining a bit more about HD DVD vs Blu-ray: http://news.com.com/FAQ+HD+DVD+vs.+Blu-ray/2100-1041_3-5886956.html

If that's not enough, there is also a technology out there called lightscribe. Lightscribe burners can etch a black and white label onto lightscribe-ready discs, thus eliminating the need to print labels on stickers and put them on discs or using a sharpie marker to label discs. However, the discs are a bit more, about a buck apiece.

So what DVD burner is right for you? Most new burners, as long as you're not buying the absolute cheapest, will read and write DVD+, -, R, RW, and RAM, and a growing number of burners also have dual-layer and lightscribe capabilities. A quick search of Google yielded results in the $100 and up range that are dual layered and lightscribe capable. If you have a desktop and want the best performance for the money, a burner you install into your tower will be cheaper and faster. If you have a laptop or want a burner that you can take with you, or don't want the hassle of opening up your tower, a USB-based burner is the best option. Most will write at 16x speed max, and with storage capabilities nearing 18GB (using a double-sided dual layer disc), you'll want to be able to write as fast as possible. Happy shopping!

Submitted by: Jeremy S.

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Answer:


BUY a DVD burner that burns to DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and dual-layer ones. You should find that most of the DVD burners burn all those formats right now.

HD-DVD and Blu-RAY DVDs are a little too new right now to be worth the investment. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find blank DVDs for burning dual layers...and if you do, they will be significantly more expensive than the single layer, more standard DVDs that you can get in the store right now.

NOW...since you are a little confused on the different DVD formats...here is a brief summary of them. When DVDs first came out...they were on 4.7 GB diskettes and in the " - " The "R" means that it is RECORD only...i.e. you record it and that is it, no more re-record (re-write). The "RW" means the diskette can be re-recorded or Re Written (hence the RW). The "-" format was the first format to come out and as such is the most common format. All you really need to know between the "-" and "+" format is that the "+" format is newer and as such, is about 10x more stable when burning the DVD....as it checks and "syncs" to the data it is recording to ensure what it wants to record is actually what is recorded.

The dual layer has to do with how many areas on the DVD can be recorded... i.e. a dual layer can record to two areas of the disk and as such can store up to 9.4 GB of data. That is significant in that most movies on DVDs need more space than the standard 4.7 GB...so...they record them on dual layer. Most DVD players can read the dual layer and so, the user never knew that one movie might be on a single layer DVD and others might be on a dual layer DVD.

As I said earlier, most DVDs in the store are single layer DVDs and because the "-" format was the first, the and not required to be "sync'd" as much, the process to certify the validity of the disk batch box of 10 or 50, is cheaper to do so, the 10-pack or 50-pack of disks is cheaper to buy. The "+" format factory certification is a little more costly to do, so buying a 10-pack or 50-pack of "+" format blank DVDs is a little more expensive.

Hope this helps ..

Submitted by: John S.

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This was a tough question for me to answer when I first bough my dvd burner when they were first coming out. But I have an answer for you. What happened was when they first came our with writable DVDs they created two standards sorta like VHS & Beta. The industry expected that one would mostly take over like what happened with VHS but that did not happen. So essentially DVD-R and DVD+R are almost identical. They both store the same amount of information. DVD-R and DVD+R are both single time writings like CD-Rs are. Those discs are good for burning home movies and things like that, stuff that will be embedded in there forever.

DVD-RW and DVD+RW are re-writable DVDs. These are good for things such as Data backups as they can hold 4.7 gigs and can be erased at a later time. Now I personally would try and find a DVD Burner that supports both of these options as some stand alone DVD players only accept one kind or another if it is older. You would have to check your DVD player specs. I find that most older DVD players can play most DVD-r discs.

Now you asked about dual layer. What this essentially does is burn 2 layers of information so you get twice the space. The reason they created this was in for backup of your DVDs in case of loss or damage. Most movie DVDs were created using a stamp press so they are not limited to the 4.7 gigs and most new movies are at least 8 gigs. So with dual layer you can simply copy the DVD straight. These discs are typically more expensive however. With the DVD-R and DVD+R you need to first compress the information down to 4.7 gigs to fit and lose some quality. DVD-RAM I believe is mostly used for movies or recording television shows from a stand alone DVD-Recorder that plugs into your TV. And finally HD-DVDS are fairly new to the market. They allow you to record High Definition Picture and Sound to the disk to be used with your HD-Ready TV. You need to make sure that the Information you are recording is HD already though.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: David J. of Toronto, Ontario
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Disk manufacturers
by jbelcherpc / January 19, 2006 9:43 PM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

It's odd that nobody seems to be aware of TDK, who are one of the developers of the Blu-Ray media. Check their website. Since Blu-Ray uses a shorter wavelength (higher energy) light source, they may be less sensitive to degradation than media that use red LED's.

It's too soon to tell.

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DVD RAM Misconceptions & What Drives Support Which Formats
by deirdrew / January 19, 2006 10:37 PM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I am surprised at the lack of information concerning DVD RAM. The winning answer mentions it with a "its an old format, forget about it". I'll return the sentiment - that answer doesn't deserve your time of day as it is a non-answer - uninformed and lazy.

Tim H thinks it only comes inside a cartridge and can only be used in a video recorder. This was probably the most blind, unresearched answer. Embarrassing, really.

Nicolas L thinks you can't use it in players and that it is usually just for computer backups - although he also states is is usually in a cartridge, too. This is what I call the Google answer - he knew nothing about it but briefly skimmed a Google result that happened to mention the format was originally meant for data storage.

DVD RAM is deserving of better, more accurate answers.

-It is the only format of the 3 that uses Random Access Memory (read, write) technology, a la a regular hard drive, giving it superior recording ability. Random Access memory allows you to watch the beginning of a recording while the DVD recorder is still recording the end of the program.

-DVD-RAM media formatted for PC can be reformatted for use with a DVD-RAM recorder.

-Unlike DVD RW and R formats, DVD-RAM does not have to be "finalized" and can be erased and re-recorded a 100 MORE times than the DVD RW discs that lose future recordable space the more they are re-recorded. In comparison, DVD-RAM discs can be re-recorded up to 100,000 times without any decreased record times.

-Unlike the other formats, with DVD-RAM, you can't accidentally record over something.

The better computer drives typically support DVD RAM, creating a bridge between video cameras, computers and DVD players and player/recorders on your TV. A nice list of computer drives and the formats they support(plus drive ratings) can be found at: www.videohelp.com/dvdwriters

The varied DVD RAM features are why I bought a computer drive that supports DVD RAM in addition to DVD +/-RW and +/-R) and a DVD Player/Recorder for my TV (Toshiba RD-XS52 DVD Player/Recorder) that, besides writing to DVD-R, also supports the enhanced rewriteability found in the more robust DVD RAM format.

If consumers educate themselves, they will know to buy computer drives and stand-alone players/recorders that also support ALL theses formats. They each have a use and a reason to own.

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DVD RAM - Positively a Great Choice!
by ronnorman / January 19, 2006 11:07 PM PST

Other than the winning answer, I did not read the other replies about the various DVD formats. However, I certainly agree with user deirdrew regarding DVD RAM. I've been using this for my backups as well as storage for much digital data; i.e., photos, movies, etc. I have found DVD RAM to be very reliable and not subject to data loss. See below for my need to also use DVD -R discs. While not all DVD R/RW drives can use DVD RAM, most new ones do. My newly acquired, but relatively inexpensive Benq drive supports just about any format on the market including DVD RAM. The only disappointing thing about this format for me is that I've only found a few DVD players for playing movies with your TV that support DVD RAM and they are the more expensive ones. I do wish it had greater acceptance in the market. I think there is much misconception regarding its capability among the general public. Because it will not work on many non-PC DVD drives, I'm forced most of the time to make a second backup for data, photos, movies, etc. to a DVD -R disc for compatibility assurance with other drives. But I still use DVD RAM for making sure I have a reliable backup for long term storage.

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I third DVDRAM
by g52ultra / January 20, 2006 1:37 AM PST

I was one of the early adopters of the DVD recording format and I watced it develop over the years. When the original formats came out, I believed the superior one was DVDRAM. I still believe that.

My concern was RELIABLE data storage and quick access to files. After dealing with horrors like Iomega Zip, overpriced Microsoft Jaz, Avatar Sharks and Castlewood Orb Drives, DVDRAM was welcome. DVDRAM provided me with huge data storage that was protected in a cartridge unlike CDR and CDRW and the DVDR/RW formats.

I think the #1 reason why DVDRAM gets dissed so much can be summed up in one question: "Can you make DVD's on it?" This was a question that I often got from the masses who were interested primarily in copying Comercially copywrited DVD's. Having a "DVD recorder" was cool and I found it amusing that nobody before ever got excited about data storage. "I use it for data storage," was my reply.

If I remember correctly, DVD stands for "Digital Versatile Disc" and not "DVD Video Disc" and was originally meant to be cross platform.

Anyway, the answer is yes, you can make DVD videos on DVDRAM, but it depends on what equipment you play it back on. The big minus (no pun intended) is that you have to remove the disc from the cartridge, which is fairly easy, and doesn't destroy the cartridge. While some of the original DVD settop recorders had cartridge
caddies, most don't these days.

Most modern multidrive writers in modern PC's will read
DVDRAM. Multidrives that write to DVDRAM are available and I just bought a Panasonic multidrive that still has a cartridge caddy that allows reading and writing to DVDRAM in the cartridge. My IBM notebook's DVD/CD writer drive will read DVDRAM's.

DVDRAM is still available and is still being produced. For safe storage, DVDRAM can't be beat. You can format them so that you can read/write/erase just like a harddrive, or floppy disc, and the cartridge keeps them from getting damaged. Data integrity is superior to DVD-RW which I would only second to DVDRAM.

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Digital Video Disk
by hameiri / January 20, 2006 4:56 AM PST
In reply to: I third DVDRAM

Originally it WAS Digital Video Disc. After it was in the marketplace for awhile, they changed it to Digital Versatile Disc.

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Agreed - DVD-RAM is a great media
by LoneDude / January 20, 2006 1:59 AM PST

Just 3 quick points to cover, more definatively, what has been mentioned, and support that DVD-RAM is the best disc format for data storage:

DVD-RAM is ''archival grade'' media ... the information burned onto the disc will remain on the disc for probably 100 years. For invalueable, irreplaceable data (home movies, family photos, tax data, personal wills, etc) this is THE best choice of all available media.

DVD-RAM is randomly accessible and uses error correction. If you get an error on a DVD+/-R/RW disc, whatever information has been recorded after that point is inaccessible. You'd be able to watch the first 10 minutes, for example, of your home movies, and everything after that (after the error) would be inaccessible.

DVD-RAM IS an older, PROVEN, technology, which is a reason TO use and trust it, and, the read/write speed has been updated to 5X. This is slower than 16X discs, but, at 5X, it would only take 15-20 minutes or so to back-up the most important data onto a disc.

LG currently (1-20-06) makes a drive that supports most formats, including DVD-RAM, for less than a $100.00 .... less than $50.00 for an OEM (just the drive without any paperwork, software,or accessories) drive. So even if you don't immediately plan to use DVD-RAM, why not purchase a drive that supports it?

note: JVC and Panasonic standalone "set-top" DVD players, and Panasonic mini-DVD camcorders, support DVD-RAM.

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DVD-RAM
by vampyreman / January 20, 2006 7:42 AM PST

I have to say, I agree also that DVD-RAM is a great media to use to archive. I'm a digital photographer and my camera is an 8MP Canon. I have to external hard drives which I have filled up with images. CD-R don't have nearly enough space and DVR-R/DVD+R are write to once media. The DVD-RAM allows me essentially to have a virtual hard drive to place my images on and I can write and rewrite as I need to without filling up my hard drives. And one I need to archive the final product, then I store it on a DVD-R/+R. I recently bought a multimedia burner the does DVD-R/+R, DVD-RW/RW, CD-R, CD+R, and DVD-RAM. I tell you something...it has been one of my best investments and I would not trade it for anything. So, here's another hearty vote for DVD-RAM!

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DZ-MV100A Video Camera DVD Ram doesn't read
by mcauto / January 20, 2006 11:39 AM PST
In reply to: DVD-RAM

Hi, I think DVD-RAM is great or so I thought since it is great in my Video Camera but I haven't found any drive to put in my computer that will read it. As a result I have to use wires to get the data off my camera and it takes forever. Does anyone know what drive and or software I can buy to have it work in my computer? Thank you.

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Yes, many drives
by deirdrew / January 20, 2006 12:34 PM PST
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Found a nice OEM version of the new multi-format LG drive
by deirdrew / January 20, 2006 1:58 PM PST
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DVD Ram Drives
by vampyreman / September 12, 2006 1:31 AM PDT

I recently bought a HP Lightscribe CD/DVD drive and I believe that it does DVD-RAM as well. Also, I had a Mad Dog drive that did DVD-RAM. However, I have found it increasingly more difficult to find DVD-RAM. A few of the stores here (CompUSA for one) still carry the discs, but depending where you are, you may have to order them online.

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I completely agree with DVD Ram
by eddyp / January 20, 2006 1:32 AM PST

DVD ram is the number 1 choice for DVD Video recorders (VR format)...
It is more expensive because it can be used 100,000 times vs. 1000 of the RW media.
The surface is far better and more resistent to scratches tha R or RW media
There are also some new apps. that can read the VR format from the DVD-Ram (Toast 7, Pixela, etc), so you can copy the videos to the computer and edit them.

It is more reliable. I've had experienced problems recording video on DVD+-R/RW, which render a trashed DVD, but NEVER had experienced a problem with DVD-Ram media.
I record about 40 hours per week Video on DVD-Ram

Greetings to all.

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RE:DVD RAM Misconceptions & What Drives Support Which Format
by dbrown7434 / January 20, 2006 2:06 AM PST

Well Said. I was going to respond to some of the uninformed answeres, but you covered some of what I thought were totally wrong, whereas others made assumpions that were out of line.

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DVD-RAM is like Betamax of the old days
by kschang / January 20, 2006 5:19 AM PST

DVD-RAM is like Betax of the old days. It may be technically superior, but few people use them.

Go into any retail store. Do you see any one carrying any DVD-RAM computer drives? The only one that would fit the bill was a Mad Dog drive here:

http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?product_code=333658&pfp=cat3

And it's not even advertised as a DVD-RAM compatible drive! Search in CompUSA's website, for DVD-RAM. You'll only find media, no drives. And do you see any DVD-RAM media in local stores? Doubt it. Same with BestBuy. They don't even have the Mad Dog Triple drive.

Yes, DVD-RAM is a technically superior product, but it's LARGELY IGNORED by the public.

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Woefully mis-informed
by deirdrew / January 20, 2006 5:40 AM PST

Walmart sells DVD RAM media, both in singles and in multi-packs. Quite a few DVR recorders and/or DVD recorders support reading and writing to RAM discs (they usually give a choice of writing to either DVR-R or RAM discs).

Many newer DVD drives support reading and/or writing to RAM disks.

Quick List:
http://www.videohelp.com/dvdwriters.php?DVDname=&cdrs=&cdrws=&dvdrs=&dvdrws=&dvdrsdl=&dvdprs=&dvdprws=&dvdprsdl=&writedvdram=1&dvdrams=&buffer=Any&cdrom=&dvdrom=&orderby=Name&hits=25&Submit=Search&Search=Search&country=

People who are more knowledgeable about the formats will choose and RAM discs - period.

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Still doesn't change the fact that DVD-RAM is a RARE format
by kschang / January 21, 2006 1:03 PM PST
In reply to: Woefully mis-informed

No one is doubting its technical superiority

But it's simply NOT being used by the public, and as a result, not wanted either.

Walmart carries just about anything, so being available there doesn't mean much. And there are only how many Walmarts in the world? And are you sure that EVERY branch carries DVD-RAM media?

You tried to show that there are supposedly 90+ drives available that is DVD-RAM compatible. However, most of those are just rebadged versions. And a search of the same datbase shows that there are 700+ drives that are DVD-R compatible, and we're not even talking about sales numbers.

DVD-RAM is a DATA-ONLY format and is quite useful in that regard. However, most people who buy DVD burners want to do VIDEO ALONG WITH DATA. DVD-RAM can store video... in VR format that's not compatible with common standalone DVD players. Add that to the cost of DVD-RAM media (yes, it can be reused bazillion times, but that's besides the point) and you have all the makings of a niche market.

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Huh? Where were you?
by JohnWiddifield / January 22, 2006 10:40 PM PST

Panasonic set top recorders use Dvd Ram. I buy the discs for my two Lg Multi drives from a stereo shop that sells Panasonic equipment, discs are branded Panasonic and work perfectly.
I'm sure Panasonic would like to be told they are wrong and out of date , maybe you should!
I trust them not only for my data but for critical customer backups too. Far more stable than a Maxtor hard drive.:)

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Stubborn or what??
by deirdrew / January 23, 2006 3:02 AM PST
In reply to: Huh? Where were you?

Obviously the poster was totally unaware that there is quite a viable, higher-end market for DVD RAM, and not just for data (doh). Guess he is simply unable to admit his ignorance on the subject ... can't enlighten this type Wink

I, too, own a standalone Panasonic DVR recorder/player for recording off with TV (to both DVD-R and DVD RAM). I also own a cool second Toshiba DVR/Recorder/Player (just came out this September) that also has a hard drive, and that also records to both DVD -R and DVD RAM for my HDTV set. (Up-coverts video to 1080i - whoo, whoo)

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Reminds me the legacy Magneto-optics...
by mehap / January 20, 2006 5:30 PM PST

All these references to DVD RAM media reminded me the formattable - rewritable, double-sided magneto-optic disc cartridges (2x305MB)used in my networkable Pinnacle Micro Juke-Box in mid '80s. The juke-box (housing 10 cartridges)has retired due to worn out mechanical parts, but the disk media in cartridges (3600/5400 rpm) are still functioning perfectly through the single external drive attached to my beloved Macintosh FX!

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internal memory read error ...
by mehap / January 20, 2006 10:15 PM PST

mid '80s should have been mid '90s ofcourse. Sort of memory read error, I suppose... Wink

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NOT SO
by greener1 / January 20, 2006 10:44 PM PST

if you notice that all of the current toshiba notebook computers are including the DVD-RAM format in their drives, that being the reason i purchased my latest laptop a toshiba with that drive included, toshiba is the largest notebook seller in the country today, and they must realize how good that DVD-RAM is, and all the major electronic chains carry toshiba notebooks

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DVD RAM
by Superknown / January 20, 2006 2:28 PM PST

I want to express my total thanks for taking your time and reminding me about my DVD RAM. I have an awesome home recorder with RAM and an older Computer (ready to take another plunge for the latest) that just has RW/R +and-. In my latest searches for comuters i totaly forgot about the absolute benefits of the DVD RAM

Tone

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DVD RAM discs
by writergirl / January 20, 2006 1:21 AM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

Just to clarify a bit. Commonly DVD RAM discs are used in DVD recorders hooked to TVs. They come in cartridges that are double sided, or in single sided form, with Panasonic seeming to be the only widely available brand. For me they've replaced video tapes because a person can record from 1-6 hours -- high quality to extra long play -- and then erase and record again thousands of times with no noticeable degradation found with video tapes. I record at LP which gives me 4 hours of playback, which is far superior to any video tape playback. A DVD RAM disc can only be played on the recorder it was recorded on until it's finalized, and then it can be played on any player.

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They are also sold NOT in cartridges
by deirdrew / January 20, 2006 1:48 AM PST
In reply to: DVD RAM discs

in fact, it is easier to find the them SANS the cartridge - even my local Walmart sells them, so no need to buy the cartridge type and then have to remove the disc if your device simply takes straight RAM discs.

I believe devices (players/recorders) that use non-cartridge RAM media actually outsell cartridge devices now-a-days.

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Not quite...
by eddyp / January 20, 2006 1:49 AM PST
In reply to: DVD RAM discs

I agree with you, however, I've discovered a couple of things.
If you owna a Panasonic DVD recorder, your media can be played back (unfinalized) in Panasonic DVD Players, or on otther brand DVD recorders.

Athough not mentioned anywhere, Panasonic DVD recorders can play back DVD-RW finalized media.

VR Format, recorded in DVD-RW Media finalized, can also be played back in Panasonic DVD recorders; If you have a recorder with a Hard disk, you can also dub your videos from the DVD-RW.

I own a Panasonic DVD recorder, a Panasonic DVD Player ans a Samsung DVD recorder (which writes to RAM and -RW)

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Other advice from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 19, 2006 4:31 AM PST
Answer:

Andy- Nobody can tell you what to buy for a DVD burner. However here are some thoughts. First What will be the use of this burner? Are you going to attempt to copy rental movies or back up your Kid's Disney movies so they don't get scratched or are you burning home made video for Mom and Dad to see the Kids or to keep the memory. Or are you just getting it to Archive data files. These questions will help you select what you are going to get. HD and Blue-ray are the new High Definition standards to Prerecorded DVD's. They have a greater amount of storage than any other format. Sort of the New Beta verses VHS standard for DVD's. Where as the DVD-R verses the DVD+R where the old Video Standards used to make Prerecorded DVD's. Depending on the manufacture of the DVD player you plan on using and when it was made will determine which format you need. The RW's of any of the formats is a Erase and Rewire option. So you record over and over or just update. The Dual layer usually label DL is a new format that came about last year or so to allow more storage.

Each of the different formats requires a different Disc. The HD and BlueRay are just starting to come to market and will be battling it out like the VHS and Beta wars of before. HD-DVD uses a Red Laser and is supposed be able to play your Old DVD videos as well as the New High definition Disc's. Where as the Blue Ray will only play the Blue Ray Disc as it uses a blue laser to read the disc. And neither of the High Def formats is available quite yet. They have said soon for 2 years now. If you are just going for Data storage any of the Formats will work for you.

IF your looking for Video to send to Mom and Dad it will be one format or another. My parents Toshiba Played DVD+R where as my Apex played DVD-R. So I went with the Dual format before the Dual layer became available. My suggestion is if your into High Definition Video wait for those recorders. But for data and standard video recording get the multi-format with the Dual layer based on your buget. That way what ever format fits your needs you can use it. Or which ever DVD media is on Sale and available you can get it and know you have a viable recorder to use it.

Submitted by: Bruce W.

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Answer:


Andy, most of the common DVD burners that you will buy at a "computer department" store like Fry's or Microcenter are both + and - compatible. You can tell this because on the box it will have a plus on top of a minus sign between the DVD and the R. Dual layer discs are a new technology, and while the drives are becoming relatively cheap, the DVD media (discs) are still outrageously priced, so unless you have specific projects in mind for them you probably don't need to worry about that for now. When purchasing media for your new burner, some people will say that minus DVDs will work more often than plus DVDs for burning movies to play in your home DVD player, but I only believe this is partially true--the ability of your burned DVD home movie to play on your home DVD player depends a lot on the software you use. Roxio and Sonic have joined hands to come out with the new Roxio 8 suite, and it does a great job at burning DVDs, it is under $100, and is easy for beginners to learn how to use. One last thing--when you get your new DVD burner installed, go to its manufacturer's website and download a firmware updater--often firmware updates for your DVD burner will make it burn faster and more reliably.

Submitted by: Susan K.

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Answer:


Myself, I'm waiting for Blue-Ray. With Larger capacities, and better quality, Blue-Ray will make DVD's of today, what Video Tapes and Zip Drives are now, obsolete. However, if you have to have a DVD Writer today, and don't want to wait for Blue-Ray to become mainstream, I suggest a Dual Format Drive, one that supports all the formats, excl. DVD-RAM, and one with LiteScribe, making it nice and easy to write what's on the discs, without having to make labels.

Submitted by: Brett F.

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Answer:


With regards to which DVD/CD burner or player to get, you are a bit early to purchase a high definition player, as the Toshiba et al v. Sony battle is not quite finalized, although I believe Toshiba will win.

However, since you probably want to play games and watch movies, inexpensively backup, and make MP3 and CD copies for your car, which most units do, what you REALLY want is a fast quiet unit. One with rubber mounts is nice and if you want it to look "nice," you should get the silver, black, or ugly beige to match.

I am very pleased with the Pioneer DVR-A08X I bought and it has this way of playing movies very quietly. It seems to me that the ones that come built with a given color (mine is silver) are better than the faceplates. This is a top rated unit and seems to handle any blank you throw into it, so far.

Rather than the usual discussion of features, I suggest you but this top ranked unit and enjoy.

Submitted by: Thomas D.

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Answer:


Well Andy, you're in luck. It's all been made a lot simpler in the last two years or so. Most new DVD burners come as +R and -R compatible! The general thought is that +R format is more compatible. I myself have a -R burner, and being that everyone claims + is more compatible, I have yet to encounter a problem.

Dual layer DVDs on the other hand or more or less DVDs with nearly double the storage capacity. Which means instead of 2 hours of standard play video on a single layer DVD it does 4 hours of standard play video. The thing to keep in mind, Dual Layer DVD blanks are not easy to come by, and on top of that can be expensive for decent brands of media.

As for Blu-ray, the first generation of those burners are due out this month...with a 1500$ price tag. (I have yet to hear of any HD-DVD burners on the way.) The thing to keep in mind with those new formats coming out in the near future, is that they will more than likely be ridiculously expensive for the first year or so. They are also first generation, which means you may run into +R vs. -R type of situation when trying to choose between Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Translation? If you wait, there's a decent chance HD-DVD and Blu-ray burning capability could be implemented into the same burner. Much like newer DVD burners are both +R and -R compatible.

As for DVD-RAM, I'm not very educated on this particular format, but I believe it relates to Digital Camcorders.

Submitted by: Jeezum C.

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Answer:


Hi Andy. I'll make this short and sweet and as non-technological as I can. There are a few things to take into consideration when buying a DVD burner and for the most part, they are personal choices.

Foremost though, is to make sure your computer is able to handle the new burner if you are just going to add it and not replace your old cd-rom (and why would you replace it anyway?). Make sure your power supply is big enough and your operating system is capable (which they should be if your machine is newer). Secondly, make sure you have enough room inside and have enough cables to hook it up. After that, it is all about what you want. DVD-R appears to be the most widely used format and is usually accepted on older DVD players with DVD+R next and also, if price is going to be a concern, they are the cheapest media to buy. DVD-R and DVD+R are even cheaper than most CD-R media, depending on brand. I have discovered that it it a very good idea to read through the forums to see what everyone else who has used the media has to say. Learn by their mistakes and trials.

You will also need to know what software you are going to use. In most cases it comes with your new burner and there are also lots of good programs available through Download.com. Price-wise for the burners themselves is not a real big issue as there is not a lot of difference between regular burners and double layered burners but again, the price of the media is the main difference. Personally, if I were just learning how to burn DVDs, I would rather waste a 30 cent DVD than a 2 or 3 dollar DVD in case some thing goes wrong (and it usually does when you are first learning). With the programs available now, it is real easy to split files that will not fit onto one DVD and burn them onto two. If cost is not a big concern, then research the burners you are considering and decide which type is going suit your needs. For starting out though, I would recommend just a regular DVD burner that supports the most formats. You can always upgrade later to dual-layer or Blu-ray if that is where the technology seems to be heading.

Hope this helps and happy burning.

Submitted by: Lloyd S.

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Answer:


Hi
Re your question about what DVD writer to purchase.
The best DVD writer available is the Plextor. I have 1 and its just the greatest. They get there drives tested by an outside Laboratory and they test them to near destruction before they release them on the market. Go to http://www.plextor.com

Submitted by: Mike D.

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Answer:


Simply, go for the DVD+RW, NOTHING ELSE.Go to a reliable store such as Future shop if you have one in your area and they will explain why.

Submitted by: Chad O.

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Answer:


Andy, I think the LITEON 16X DVD+R/+RW Drive Double Layer is good, I use it in my computers and haven't had any problems.

Submitted by: Timmy L.

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Answer:


Best answer - Go for one that writes EVERYTHING! +/-R, +/-RW, and Dual Layer. Also, HP and I/O magic make DVD burners that support lightscribe a special disc labeling feature, so that's a nifty bonus. As for your HD-DVD/Blu-Ray question, My recommendation is this: Let It Bake. They're both coming out this year, but good luck finding media for them! Also, a good DVD burner costs less than $100 these days; to invest in a first-gen blu-ray drive isn't going to provide a cost-effective advantage for a while.

Submitted by: Joey L.

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Answer:


You asked about the DVD burners, the best burner for everyday use is a DVD-Rw. I bought one for my system and I haven't had a problem. A dual layer DVD burner is a waste of money, due the fact that the disk are double the price. You can get a single layer DVD-rw burner and all you need is a good 16x DVD-r disk, because a DVD-r holds what you burn.

Submitted by: Steven B.

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Answer:


If you do like I did and buy Iomega's Super DVD, then all formats are covered by it.
DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD-RAM, CD-R and CD-RW

Submitted by: Steve S.

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Answer:


It is recommended that you purchase a 16X DVD+/- Dual Layer Sony Internal or External Burner which is of the highest technological quality available . They are available at very reasonable prices to include through ebay.

Submitted by: Dick P.
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Plextor is the best brand DVD Burner
by Zeppo / January 19, 2006 7:45 PM PST

I concur with one member response about the Plextor DVD burners. Plextor makes the best, most trouble free burners available.

Not only do I believe this, but 2 high end computer makers, Velocity Micro (www.velocitymicro.com) and Falcon Northwest (www.falcon-nw.com) offer only two dual layer brands as consumer choices - Plextor 16x DL DVD+/- and Lite-On 16x DL DVD+/-. Because both these computer makers offer extreme machines for enthusiasts, they take care in choosing the best components.

What ever brand you choose, it should be DL (Dual Layer) DVD+/-. This allows you the most flexibility, and is quickly becoming what most manufactures offer anyway.

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Plextor currently has the best burner, but ...
by googey10 / January 19, 2006 8:53 PM PST

Toshiba and BenQ - newest models are, according to quite a few reviews, just about equally good. Plextor quality was not consistent - with say LiteOn you always got a high quality product.
Many Plextors were re-branded LiteOns anyway. Currently the best burner IS, according to reviews, the Plextor PX-740.
Good computer manufacturers do stick to a good brand, quite true, but there is a bit of commercial reasoning, buying large quantities and binding contracts in order to get lower price, so if the next Plextor turns out to be below average, it will still be built in quality systems.
We used to buy only Plextors for a large organisation, had a lot of problems some two years ago with a model which was a re-branded ?, can't remember, not LiteOn. Had to replace about 50 units, took LiteOns instead.

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i have found Plextor to be quite buggy.
by Scrowshaw / January 22, 2006 12:49 PM PST

I have found Plextor drives to be quite buggy. I have purchased a few different generations of USB burners, and all had the same problem, sometimes they would work, others they wouldnt.

I now stick to IDE burners, and am currently using the Lacie Internal Lightscribe and love it. Havent lost a DVD or CD yet, its quick, reliable, and comes with excellent software.

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