Recordable DVDs and why you should wait!

Question

What can you tell me about recordable DVD drives?

-Jay

Answer

This question was answered on November 12, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

We have been hearing for years how the recordable DVD was going to revolutionize the

way we store audio, video and data Because it has 7 times the capacity of a CD (roughly 4.7 GB), it will allow large amounts of video and audio to be stored on a single disk.

One of the main reasons that we have not seen the proliferation of these devices has to do with the age-old problem of standards It?s the Beta vs VHS wars all over again! Over the years, 4 different standards have been created that all have various pros and cons.

The first recordable standard known as DVD-R was launched in 1997 It was a 'record once' device that was very expensive and mainly used for making copies of DVD movies.

The subsequent DVD-RAM standard backed by Hitachi and Panasonic is intended to be a data device for computers only It is a rewriteable standard (meaning you can erase and reuse disks) that is capable of storing large amounts of data (up to 9.4GB because it can use special double sided disks) but it is not compatible with other types of DVD playback devices In other words, any disk created it in a DVD-RAM drive, can only be used in a DVD-RAM drive It will not work in a DVD-ROM or standard home DVD player.

The two other standards, DVD-RW and DVD RW are both rewriteable drives capable of creating disks that are compatible with traditional DVD playback devices In some cases, these drives can also support the CD-R/CD-RW standards that are common to the popular 'CD burners' meaning you can have one drive that does it all.

The DVD-RW standard is backed by Apple, Pioneer and Compaq while the newer DVD RW,

which claims a higher compatibility with older DVD drives and faster more reliable writing performance, is backed by a larger number of companies that include Dell, Sony, Philips, Mitsubishi, Ricoh, Thomson and Yamaha.

If all you really want is a large rewriteable data storage device for your computer and you have no interest in creating 'movies', the DVD-RAM standard may be all you need The concern with it is whether it will be around in the future and more importantly if the media will continue to be available since it uses a unique type of disk.

Then again, if you are going to buy a recordable DVD drive, wouldn't you want to be able to create disks that can be played on your home entertainment system or can be sent to relatives to be played on standard DVD drives?

To me, the most logical device is one that can read and write DVDs, CDs and is backwards compatible with older DVD and CD drives And since the technical community seems to think that the DVD RW format has several performance benefits over the DVD-RW format, if you want to buy a drive today, look for one that supports the DVD RW format.

As you can tell, it is all very confusing and is in dire need of some consolidation Unless you have money to burn, I would wait until the first or second quarter of 2002 to check to see if a 'shake-out' has occurred in the DVD standards war.

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on November 12, 2001