All you ever wanted to know about DVD.

There are several competing DVD Formats:

DVD-R and DVD+R.

Avid Tech use and recommend DVD-R for the best compatibility with up to 99% of all DVD players please be aware that some DVD players will not accept a DVD which has been burned on a computer.

What does DVD mean?

The keyword is “versatile.” Digital Versatile Discs provide superb video, audio and data storage and access, all on one disc.

What’s the basic difference between a DVD and CD?

DVD is a high capacity multimedia data storage media. It can hold a complete movie on a single disc, content rich multimedia, slides, photographs or just data to 4.7 GB.

Can I play CDs on my DVD player?

Most DVD hardware will allow you to play audio CDs and CD-ROMs. Some will also play MP3 discs.

What’s the storage capacity of DVD?

A DVD can store over two hours of video on one layer of the disc. For best results Avid Tech limit this to 120 minutes, the sweet spot for a DVD is 90 minutes of the best quality and highest bit rate. Max content 180 minutes of lower quality video.

Why is DVD video better than that of standard videotape?

DVD video disc storage allow better resolution, which is far greater than that offered by laser disc media and almost twice the resolution of standard VHS videotape.

This resolution is dependent on the capability of the television monitor used, but you need not have a new monitor to enjoy the benefits of DVD. DVD video also provides low noise.

One more advantage is that a DVD is not physically touched while it spins in the player, so there is no wear and tear or loss of fidelity over time. In contrast, videotapes do touch a playback system and will eventually break down, degrading the quality of your video images.

Will my DVD player play DVD-R DVD media?

Yes, in most cases this is the standard format for DVD players made since around 2007.

The quickest and best way to discover if your player will play DVD-R is to play a commercial available DVD title movie.

If it plays this it is most likely compatible. Older DVD players may need a revisit of the owners manual where you will find complete specifications and indications of which formats are supported by your player.       

Non-recordable formats

  • DVD-ROM: These are pressed similarly to CDs. The reflective surface is silver or gold colored. They can be single-sided/single-layered, single-sided/double-layered, double-sided/single-layered, or double-sided/double-layered. As of 2004, new double-sided disks have become increasingly rare.
  • DVD-D: a new self-destructing disposable DVD format. Like the EZ-D, it is sold in an airtight package, and begins to destroy itself by oxidation after several hours.
  • DVD Plus: combines both DVD and CD technologies by providing the CD layer and a DVD layer. Not to be confused with the DVD+ formats below.

Recordable formats DVD-R

  • DVD-R for Authoring: a special-purpose DVD-R used to record DVD masters, which can then be duplicated to pressed DVD by a duplication plant. They require a special DVD-R recorder, and are not often used nowadays since many duplicators can now accept ordinary DVD-R masters.
  • DVD-R can record up to 4.7 GB in a similar fashion to a CD-R disc. Once recorded and finalized it can be played by most DVD-ROM players and is the most common format used due to the formats high compatibility with nearly any newer DVD player. It is also used for commercial DVDs you buy or rent at the video rental store. This is the format of choice for Avid Tech DVD Transfer Centre as well.
  • DVD-RW: can record up to 4.7 GB in a similar fashion to a CD-RW drive.  Video content can be up to 120 minutes of high quality DVD with Dolby AC3 sound track.
  • DVD-R DL: a derivative of DVD-R that uses double-layer recordable discs to store up to 8.5 GB of data.
  • DVD-RAM (current specification is version 2.1): requires a special unit to play 4.7GB or 9.4GB recorded disks (DVD-RAM disk are typically housed in a cartridge). 2.6GB disks can be removed from their caddy and used in DVD-ROM drives. Top capacity is 9.4GB (4.7GB/side). Avid Tech is not supporting this format.

Recordable formats DVD+R DVD+RW DVD+R DL

  • DVD+R: can record up to 4.7 GB single-layered/single-sided DVD+R disk, at up to 16x speed. Like DVD-R you can record only once.
  • DVD+RW: can record up to 4.7 GB at up to 16x speed. Since it is re writable it can be overwritten several times. It does not need special “pre-pits” or finalisation to be played in a DVD player.
  • Information copyright wikipedia.

How to choose a DVD player

For most people this is no longer a difficult question, with DVD players available even in supermarket is from as little as $49 in Australia you can’t go wrong.  Cheap DVD players have most of the features that you would require but may lack some of the more stunning capabilities of the more expensive units, having said that most cheap DVD players will play MP3 soundtrack, provide good-quality sound if not with 5.1 Dolby surround or DTS.

If you are looking for a low-cost alternative, this can be a fantastic solution if you are not ready to dispose of your VHS video player, and can save you the expense of purchasing combo unit which can play both VHS tapes and DVD’s.

DVD recorders

These magical replacements for your old VHS video recorder and can be purchased for under $300 which can provide you with many hours of recording capacity and then transfer some of your programs to DVD-RW as your backup, or you can just use a DVD which is re writable just like a video cassette, you can record over the disc countless times.

Your best bet when looking for a DVD player, a combo unit, or a DVD recorder is to make a short list of the features that you feel you must have if you are not sure pay a visit to a department store and ask questions, it will be far easier to make up your mind what will suit your needs into the future.

DVD recorders are just as complicated as VHS recorders and because there are so many brands and makes it is impossible to talk in detail about DVD players and recorders, pick a reliable well-known brand name such as JVC, Panasonic, Sony, Pioneer, LG and Samsung are some of the world’s top brands and you should find a reliable high-quality unit at reasonable cost by shopping around.

Finally: when in doubt look up the user manual you will find instructions on how to program the unit and use it to its best advantage.

Happy viewing.

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