What DVD format should I use?

Question

I want to buy a DVD burner but no one can explain which format is my best choice. What do you recommend?

- Dan

Answer

This question was answered on March 7, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

It’s become pretty obvious that the DVD (Digital Video Disk or Digital Versatile Disk) has become the standard of choice when it comes to video Since its inception in 1997, over 35 million players have been shipped, giving it one of the fastest adoption rates in the history of consumer

electronics

Over the past several years, we have continued to hear the rumblings that DVDs where poised to create a huge impact in the computer industry For most, that has meant that you can play a DVD movie in your computer, which is great for laptop users that travel.

But, the real impact for computers is in the ability to use the formats large storage capabilities CD-ROMs can store roughly 700 MB of data while a DVD is capable of at least 4.7 GB, which is almost seven times the storage.

As computer programs, data and multimedia files gobble up large quantities of space, the DVD format is the perfect device for transferring or archiving.

Whether you want to create DVD versions of your home movies, backup all of your critical data and pictures or carry over 1500 songs on a single disk, the ability to ‘burn’ or create your own DVDs is quickly becoming the ‘must have’ technology of 2003.

Unfortunately, not much has changed in the format wars since the last time I wrote about DVD burners, but I do have some new advice, which I will get to later.

The alphabet soup that the industry has created is confusing to consumers As of this writing, there are several formats that are battling to become ‘the standard’ The battle is essentially down to two different formats: DVD-R(W) and DVD R(W) R stands for Recordable, and is limited to a single write, while the W stands for re-Writable which allows the disks to be

re-written as many as 1,000 times.

The actual way that you record your DVDs will be largely determined by what you plan to do with the disk once it is written If you only plan to use the DVD disks on the computer that creates it, then any of the formats will work just fine.

If you want to make a disk that will play on a standard DVD playback only machine, like making movie disks to send to grandma, then the format you choose is very important.

OK, here comes the confusing part: RW disks can only be read in RW drives, unless a special process is performed to make it readable by other non-RW drives But not all standard DVD players can read disks that have been created on DVD burners The older your DVD player is, the more likely that it will have a problem reading the disks written by most of today’s DVD

burners.

In my opinion, you have two choices for DVD burners: wait until the format wars shakeout or buy a multi-format drive, such as the Sony DRU-500A.

Not only does it support DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD R and DVD RW, it is also a CD-R/W drive It basically covers all the format bases, so it’s the safest drive to buy if you really want a DVD burner right now!

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on March 7, 2003