February 14, 2005
Q: How do I know which DVD burner to buy, DVD-R or DVD+R? — Sheila
A: DVD (Digital Video Disk or Digital Versatile Disk) formats continue to be one of the most confusing topics for the average consumer.
The lack of a clear standard causes many to purchase a burner and go through the learning curve, just to find out that the newly burned disk will not play on their home DVD player.
If all of your DVD players are fairly new, you likely won’t have as much of a problem as those that are trying to interface with older players and changers.
Here is a quick review of the current formats:
• DVD-ROM (Read Only Memory) drives are those that can only play back a DVD.
• DVD-RAM (Random Access Memory) drives are essentially designed as data
devices for computers. This is not the format for making movies to play on a TV.
• DVD-R (the first recordable format to be compatible with home DVD players) is a single burn (per disk) recordable format that claims to be compatible with over 90 percent of DVD playback devices.
• DVD-RW is a re-writable format and claims compatibility with about 80 percent of DVD playback devices.
The DVD-R and DVD-RW formats are supported by companies like Panasonic, Toshiba, Apple Computer, Hitachi, NEC, Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp (aka the DVD Forum).
• DVD+R is a single burn (per disk) format and claims to be compatible with about 90 percent of DVD playback devices.
• DVD+RW is a re-writable format and claims compatibility with about 80 percent of DVD playback devices.
DVD+R and DVD+RW are supported by Philips, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Ricoh, Yamaha and Thomson (aka the DVD+RW Alliance).
The latest entry, known as DVD+R DL or DVD+R9, incorporates a dual layer writable DVD+R. With dual layered discs (called DVD-9), up to 7.95 GB of storage can be obtained and dual layered double sided discs (called DVD-18) can store a whopping 15.9 GB of data!
So now that you are totally confused about all the technical mumbo jumbo, which direction should you take?
You can try to match up your burner with the brands of stand-alone DVD players that you want to make discs for, or you can take the safer approach and get a drive that supports both sets of standards (DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW). "Multiformat" drives continue to be the safest way to go, so that you can burn DVDs for virtually any type of DVD player or purpose (data, audio or video).
Many companies, such as Sony, Plextor, LG and Lite-on offer several multiformat drives with some including the ability to use the newer double-layered (DL) media.
The burn speed (expressed as 4X, 8X, etc.) also is an important element. The higher the burn rate the faster you can burn a DVD, but this can actually work against you if you are making a disc for older players. Slowing down the burn rate can often make a disc more compatible. So keep this in mind if you run into problems with your burned DVDs.