Guide to Recordable DVD Formats



One thing that isn’t well explained when people buy DVD burners as an add on for an existing computer or a DVD recorder to replace their VCR’s is why there are so many different kinds of recordable and rewriteable DVD’s. Different kinds of disks offer different capacities. Many older home DVD players aren’t even compatible with many of the different formats of recordable DVD’s.

DVD-R (DVD dash R) the earliest available format of recordable single use DVD’s. DVD-R offers low cost and high compatibility between computers and home DVD players. DVD-R disks hold 4.7 GB of data or 120 minutes of standard definition video.

DVD-RW (DVD dash RW) Rewriteable version of DVD-R most compatible rewriteable format. Disks have to be erased before data (or recorded TV shows) are replaced. Disks can be erased and rewritten 1,000 times during the lifespan of the disks.

DVD+R (DVD plus R) The backers of the DVD+R format claim that DVD+R has a more accurate tracking system to help maintain the integrity of the data as it is being burned to the disk. In theory this should mean no frame dropping during playback. Any DVD player made before 2004 will have problems playing DVD+RW disks.

DVD+RW (DVD plus RW) Data can be selectively randomly rewritten without erasing the disk first. This makes DVD+RW excellent for backing up personal data. DVD+RW is less compatible with other older DVD players.

DVD-RAM (DVD Random Access Memory) The first of rewriteable DVD formats. The most expensive and least cross compatible of the recordable DVD formats, A DVD-RAM disk can only be read on a DVD-RAM drive or player. DVD-RAM disks offer the greatest life span over other DVD rewriteable formats. A DVD-RAM disk can be rewritten 10,000 times before it has to be replaced.

Dual Layer – Like manufactured DVD’s, Recordable and rewriteable DVD’s (both – and + variants) now have dual layer capability which extends data capacity to 8.7 Gigabytes. In order to use dual layer blank DVD’s the burner has to support dual layer. Almost DVD burners for computers on the market today support dual layer media but very few home DVD recorders do. DVD+R, RW DL are the most common dual layer blank DVD’s in the market today. Before burning a DVD+R or +RW dual layer disc that is going to be played on a home DVD player, the player has to be compatible with DVD+R, +RW discs.

Dual Format – DVD burners made in the past couple of years support both – and + versions of recordable and rewriteable DVD’s. There are still many home DVD recorders that support only + or – format blank DVD’s, disc compatibility will always need to be taken into account when buying blank DVD’s for these DVD recorders.

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