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Author Topic: DVD Recording Media  (Read 1690 times)

Offline Simon

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DVD Recording Media
« on: January 09, 2004, 20:53 »
CDR Media.co.uk is a website I can recommend for blank DVDs.  Obviously you need to know which format you require.  Generally they ship within 24 hours, and are among the cheapest I found.
Currently there are many writeable and rewriteable DVD formats on the market, and this can be confusing to the average consumer. These DVD formats include:



DVD-RAM is a sanctioned format of the DVD Forum, a consortium of companies involved in the development of DVD standards. DVD-RAM was a format originally aimed primarily as a data solution, but it is now becoming popular as a video format used by some brands of standalone (non-PC) DVD recorders. DVD-RAM is a very robust data storage solution, theoretically allowing greater than 100000 rewrites per disc.

Early PC-based DVD-RAM recorders used 2.6 GB discs (or double-sided 5.2 GB discs), but current drives also use 4.7 GB discs (or double-sided 9.4 GB discs). DVD-RAM discs are traditionally housed within cartridges, so that the media is well-protected. Originally, the cartridges could not be opened, but newer Type II and Type IV cartridges can be opened, an important feature for those who wish to read these discs in DVD-RAM compatible DVD-ROM drives or standalone DVD players. In addition, some DVD-RAM discs are now sold without cartridges.

In addition to support of the usual DVD UDF formats, DVD-RAM also allows fully integrated OS-level random read/write access similar to hard drives, with both Windows XP (with FAT32) and Mac OS X (with FAT32 or HFS+), as well as on-the-fly write verification.

The main drawback of the DVD-RAM format is its limited read compatibility by DVD-ROM drives and standalone DVD players. DVD-RAM read support with these units is increasing however, partially because of the increasing popularity of home standalone DVD-RAM recorders in home theatre systems.


DVD-R and DVD-RW are also both formats of the DVD Forum. Both formats generally use 4.7 GB discs, although some professional DVD-R drives use 3.95 GB discs.

DVD-R is a write-once recordable format which allows excellent compatibility with both standalone DVD players and DVD-ROM drives. There are two main types of DVD-R discs: DVD-R for General Use and DVD-R for Authoring. Most consumer DVD-R burners use the cheaper General Use discs, while some professional burners use Authoring discs. The correct media type appropriate for the recorder must be used when burning a DVD-R. However, once written, the discs should be readable in either drive type. (General Use DVD-R is designed to prevent backup of encrypted commercial DVDs.)

DVD-RW media uses rewriteable discs which are rated for more than 1000 rewrites in ideal situations. The majority of standalone DVD players will play video recorded on DVD-RW discs, but the compatibility is not as high as with DVD-R.

Current DVD-RW recorders also record to DVD-R. However, the reverse was not always true. Some older DVD-R recorders were not capable of writing to DVD-RW discs (although some were able to read DVD-RW discs burned with other drives).

DVD-RW and DVD-R have heavy penetration into the professional multimedia market as well as the general consumer market. For instance, the Apple SuperDrive, found in many pro and consumer Mac computers, is simply a DVD-R/DVD-RW (and CD-R/CD-RW) capable burner.


These two formats are backed by the DVD+RW Alliance. While these formats are not supported by the DVD Forum, several members of the DVD+RW Alliance are also members of the DVD Forum. These discs are very similar to DVD-R and DVD-RW in design, usage, and compatibility.

DVD+RW, like DVD-RW, is a rewriteable 4.7 GB format, and overall it has similar functionality to DVD-RW. The level of compatibility of standard DVD+RW discs in standalone DVD players is similar to that of DVD-RW. The rewritability of DVD+RW is also said to be similar to that of DVD-RW, allowing up to 1000 rewrites.

One potential advantage of the DVD+RW format is Mount Rainier (DVD+MRW) drag-and-drop file access support planned for Longhorn, a future version of Windows slated for release in 2005. Older DVD+RW drives do not support this function, but newer drives may. While DVD+MRW is arguably not as robust a data solution as DVD-RAM, DVD+MRW potentially will offer higher read compatibility in current DVD-ROM drives.

DVD+R is a format that was introduced to consumers in early 2002. The first generation +RW recorders did not support DVD+R recording, and likely cannot be upgraded to do so. However, all current models of DVD+RW recorders also support DVD+R recording. Compatibility of +R discs in standalone DVD players is similar to that of DVD-R.

Can I have it all?

Support of combinations of several of the formats are available in many current drives. Recorders that conform to the DVD Forum?s DVD Multi Recorder standard will record to DVD-RAM, DVD-R, and DVD-RW. Other recorders also record to both +R/+RW and DVD-R/DVD-RW. Some drives are even able to record to all of the DVD Forum and DVD+RW Alliance formats. In addition to the various DVD formats, most drives will also record to CD-R and CD-RW discs.

So what should I buy then?

This is a very difficult question. The choice largely depends on one's usage environment and preferences.

DVD-RAM discs cannot be used in most standalone DVD players and DVD-ROM drives, and this has historically made this format less attractive for the average home user. However, the integrated OS-level drag-and-drop read/write data support of DVD-RAM makes it very attractive for some users, especially now that most current DVD-RAM burners also support DVD-R burning for video applications. DVD-RAM capable PC drives will also be ideal for those whom already own DVD-RAM based camcorders or standalone DVD-RAM recorders.

DVD-R/DVD-RW drives currently have the highest market penetration, both with PCs and Macs. As previously mentioned, DVD-R enjoys high compatibility with standalone DVD players. In addition, the low cost of DVD-RW is attractive to many for backup purposes. Furthermore, most standalone DVD players will read DVD-RW as well, although the compatibility rate is lower than with DVD-R.

DVD+R/DVD+RW is gaining market share, and these discs appear to have similar compatibility on standalone DVD players as DVD-R/DVD-RW discs. Similarly, current functionality with these drives is similar to DVD-R/DVD-RW drives, both for data and for video applications, and they likely are equally reliable.

And of course, as mentioned earlier, many multiformat drives exist (albeit often at higher cost).

What about external DVD recorders?

DVD recorders exist in SCSI and IDE formats. Most external DVD recordable drives are essentially IDE drives with USB 2 or Firewire 1394a bridges and custom housing. These drives can be purchased as complete drives, but one may purchase a standard IDE DVD burner for use in a third party USB 2 or Firewire enclosure. Besides ease of installation, an external drive offers the ability to use a single drive with multiple computers.

Compatibility of external drives is not guaranteed with all software, however.

Can I record DVDs with my laptop?

Yes! Some laptops now include DVD burners as the primary optical drive. If one does not have an internal DVD burner, one may use an external drive, connected to a Firewire or USB 2 port on the laptop. This port can be either built-in or on an add-in PCMCIA adapter card.

How fast can I burn my discs?

The fastest desktop burners (as of September 2003) are 8X for DVD+/-R and 4X for DVD+/-RW. Laptop DVD burners usually have a 2X maximum DVD burn speed.

Can I use a DVD burner to make backups of commercial DVDs?

Making backups of DVDs one does not own or making backups for resale is illegal. However, it may be legal to make backups of one?s own DVDs for personal use. For example, some families may wish to backup children?s DVDs, in order to protect them from damage caused by mishandling.

Many may be familiar with the process of CD backups, which simply involves a direct copy of a CD to a CD-R. Unfortunately, the backup process for DVDs is usually a much more complex process, for a number of reasons.

Many thanks to all our members, who have made PC Pals such an outstanding success!   :thumb:

Offline Robotochan

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Re:DVD Recording Media
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2004, 21:28 »
Cool site  ;D But shouldn't this be in Useful Sites section?  :)
b]Oxymoron: [/b]
2 words that when put together contradict one another

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