Frequently Asked Questions
Note: Any time you see DVDR mentioned within these DVD Frequently Asked Questions, please note that it is referring to both DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW.
1. Im so confused, what is the difference between DVD+R and
DVD-R discs, is one better then the other?
This is one of the more commonly asked questions. The first thing to understand here is that there are two camps. One of them is the DVD FORUM; the other is called the DVD ALLIANCE. The DVD FORUM developed the DVD-R format, while the Alliance developed the + format. Major companies basically chose which one of the two forums they would support. Companies like Pioneer are part of the DVD FORUM, while companies like Sony are part of the DVD ALLIANCE. They would battle between each other, both sides, claiming that their format was superior. The + format was actually created to psychologically seem superior to unsuspecting consumers because most people equate + with being positive, and - with being negative. What is really interesting here is that most people call +R/RW by saying PLUS R/RW. That is correct, however, they make the same common mistake by calling -R/RW as MINUS R/RW. This is not correct as the - sign is actually referred to as DASH and NOT MINUS at all. Its called DVD DASH R/DASH RW. So as you can see its more of a marketing competition, then anything else. And in the last 2 years, supporters and backers of both sides have realized that its more profitable to be supportive of both sides, and these companies like Sony and Pioneer have developed dual format drives. Dual format drives are capable of burning either the + format or the - format. Most companies now only make dual format drives. And if you have a dual format drive, you can purchase either the + or - DVDR discs. The last thing to understand is that both formats are extremely compatible in the majority of the standalone/set-top DVD PLAYERS, so the chances of the discs not playing in your DVD player are very rare. There really isnt a better format, as both are excellent..
2. What is going on, I see my DVDR discs say I can burn up to
4.7 GBs onto them, but now Im hearing I can only burn up to 4.38 GBs?
This may very well be the most common question of all. There is a detailed explanation, and then a simple explanation. Well try to give you a combination of both, keeping it more on the simple side. The reason there is a discrepancy between the maximum amount of information you can store onto a DVDR disc is because of the differences in what makes up a byte in the real world vs. what makes up a byte in the computer world. It can get mathematical, but when you see the 4.7 on your DVDR, that is referring to 4.7 Billion bytes. 4.7 Billion bytes converts to ~ 4.38 GBs. As long as your DVDR project is 4.38 GBs or less, you will be perfectly fine. Most of the transcoder programs on the market for backups create project sizes that are between 4.35 GBs and 4.37 GBs automatically.
3. What are DVD-5, DVD-9, DVD-10, DVD-14 AND DVD-18?
You may have heard or read about some of these terms. Basically, these are the terms which relate solely to commercial DVDs such as the ones produced by Hollywood.
A DVD-5 is a single sided, single layer disc which can simply be backed up to a single DVDR burned disc. Unfortunately, most Hollywood commercial DVDs are of the other format.
DVD-9 being the most common is a single sided dual layer disc. The disc has 2 layers and there is a layer break in the .IFO file of the main movie which tells your player when to switch layers. On most players you wont notice the layer change, but on some models, you may see a slight pause. Many commercial DVDs specify on the back of the box when a movie is DUAL LAYER and also say the Dual Layer title may trigger a slight pause.
DVD-10 is a format which is a double sided, single layer disc. This means that each side of the disc is single layer. This is usually done for movies which are in both widescreen and full screen formats. One side of the disc will be widescreen, while the other side of the disc is in full screen. This is also done by the studios when they want to put special features on one side of the disc and main movies on the other. DVD-10 discs are often referred to as FLIPPERS because you have to flip the disc over to get to the stuff on the other side. In some rare instances the actual movie will be on both sides of the disc. Very lengthy movies are structured like this. Some of those titles include, but arent limited to: Dances with wolves (The non special edition version) The Color Purple, Gone with the Wind, & Goodfellas, among many others.
DVD-14 is the least common of the formats. A DVD-14 disc is a commercial disc which is dual layer on one side and single layer on the other. The structure of this type of disc which is most common when the movie itself is on the dual layer side (DVD-9) and the flip side which is a single layer or a DVD-5. The flip side usually has special features. This is very rare but one of the titles which this occurs on is COCOON among some others. On the Cocoon disc, the full screen version is on the DVD-5 single layer side, while the widescreen presentation is on the dual layer, DVD-9 side.
And last but certainly not least, the DVD-18 disc format is also very rare. This is where both sides of the disc are dual layer DVD-9. This format is most often found on movies which are also very lengthy in duration. Movies such as Gods and Generals, and Windtalkers, and Gangs of New York, and just some of the movies which are on a DVD-18.
4. I want to buy the absolute best DVD MEDIA out there, which one would you recommend
Well, there really isnt a BEST when it comes to DVD Media. You have to see what works BEST for you. Each individuals system is going to be different to some degree so trial and error is whats going to help you decide what discs work best for you. Some people have excellent success with DVD media which costs a quarter or so a piece, while some others dont have the same success. There are so many marketing schemes out there that you probably arent aware of where you can purchase the same, exact quality DVD Media for 3 or 4 times the price, and wouldnt even know it. The next question will get into more detail about that though. But as far as a BEST in DVD Media goes, there really isnt a best, as everyones experiences will be unique.
5. What brands of DVD media do you recommend for most of DVD burners/players?
6. The company that sells the DVDR discs is the same company that manufactured them, right?
This is yet, another mistake many people make because they just arent aware of how the DVD MEDIA business operates. Most manufacturers that sell DVD Media do NOT actually manufacture it. They outsource to other companies which will make their media for them and then put the company selling the discs name on top and on the packaging. For example, Verbatim, Fuji, TDK, Memorex, Imation, etc. These are all very big media companies. For the most part, none of them make their own media. They outsource to a variety of media manufacturers such as CMC MCC Ritek, Optodisc, Prodisc, and the list goes on and on. This is why you may spend twice as much in a retail store purchasing a 100 pack of Memorex for example, which may be Ritek manufactured, when you could of easily spent half the price purchasing Ritek discs online
7. Well How can I tell what company manufactured the discs I purchased?
There are some incredible free programs on the web which you can download and which will tell you the MID or Media ID of your discs. Probably, the most popular program is called ADVDINFO and can be found by searching on Google, or another search engine. The problem though with even knowing the MID of your discs is that the MIDs are becoming less and less important. The reason for this is because media manufacturers actually have contracts with each other to manufacture a certain number of discs for each other. For example, CMC may have an agreement with MCC to manufacture a certain number of discs for Verbatim, using MCCs processes and technology. This means that the MID of your Verbatim discs may very well say MCC but CMC are actually the ones who manufactured the discs. For this reason, its probably best not to knock yourself out wondering who actually made the discs, but instead, just see if the discs work for you. As long as they do, then the rest is pretty much useless.
8. Then what the heck is all this talk about Double-Layer burned DVDs Then?
This is a great question and it regards some of the newest technology on the market. Basically, double layer is a technology which actually burns two layers onto a single double layer discs. Again, it can get very technical, so we suggest you do a search for double layer burned DVDs if you are interested in the exact processes, but the basis of this technology is that it will allow you to be able to burn identical backups of any commercial Hollywood title onto a single double layer DVDR. Currently, only DVD+R has the technology released for burning double layer. And the only two double layer DL discs on the market right now are being sold by Verbatim and Ritek. The maximum speed for DL discs currently is 2.4x, but it will soon be 4x. Also, the Dash camp will have their own DL format in the months to come. This is an amazing technology as many experts claimed for a long time that something like this would never exist. They said it was impossible to be able to actually burn 2 layers to a DVDR disc. Those experts have been proven wrong and so far from the majority of the reports of people using DL discs, the compatibility has been very good. The only negative of DL media right now is the fact that they are about $8 - $10 a piece, as well as the fact that you can only burn a maximum of 2.4x, which would take
~ 45 minutes or so to burn one.
9. Well even for $8 - $10 can I purchase a DL disc and burn it?
You sure can, as long as you have a DVD WRITER which supports Double Layer. Some of the drives which currently support Double Layer DL are the Sony DRU-730A, the NEC ND-2510A, Lite-On SOHW-1213S, and the BENQ DW830A. Soon there will be more drives released which will support this new technology, but for right now this is it.
10. So then burned Double Layer discs are much better then single layer discs right?
Well, the technology is still new, so the jury is out. But initial feedback and reports show that the format is quite compatible and the 1st Generation discs seem to burn great. Of course, its not economical right now so you cant say that its better then single layer discs which can be purchased for anywhere between a quarter and $1.00 each.
11. I see some of my movies say 4:3 and/or 16:9 Widescreen, what is the difference, and is one better then the other?
To understand the answer to this question you may need to familiarize yourself with the different aspect ratios of DVDs. One of the better sites which discuss this are at the digitialbits found here:
But once again, in simple terms, 4:3 refers to full screen or full frame. This means that on a standard Television, the picture will fill up the screen entirely. Some people are under the false impression that because the picture fills up their screen, it must better. This is incorrect, and full screen presentations of movies on DVD are actually not as good as 16:9. Again, this can get complicated and in great detail, but simply put, when a movie is filmed it is almost always filmed in a 1:85:1 or 2:35:1 aspect ratio. This ratio fits the movie screens at the theaters wonderfully and when the movie makes its way to DVD it can be digitally transferred leaving the original theatrical aspect ratio untouched. This allows for the film to be viewed as the director wants it to be viewed. Many studios in an effort to make more money will release both aspect ratios of the film on completely separate discs which must be purchased separately. These movies have been modified from their original format, so when you watch them, they may fit your screen, but you arent watching them as the director wanted you to see them. Some people will also agree with this but then say that on a standard 4:3 Television, full screen is still better and on a widescreen T.V 16:9 is better. This is usually because some people are annoyed by the black bars when watching a 16:9 movie on a standard television. This is also a false assumption, because once again, even with the black bars on a standard T.V, you wont see the characters as being stretched or morphed, and you will still see the movie as it was meant to be seen. There are some very good examples of how 4:3 modifications look very poor, but one of them is with Charlies Angels 2: Full-Throttle. There is a scene in this movie on the full screen version where the angels are sitting on the couch and they get a call from Charlie. They are talking to Charlie, but you only see like 2 and 1/2 of the angels, as the angel to the far right is cut off the screen. When you watch the 16:9, Widescreen version of this movie you see all 3 angels perfectly on the couch because this is what the director wanted you to see. He wanted you to see all 3 angels, not just 2 of them and the 3rd one partially cut off. When you watch a 4:3 full-screen/full-frame presentation, you will usually know at the beginning if it was originally in a different aspect ratio as it will state this this film has been modified to fit your screen or something to that affect
12. So ALL 4:3 aspect ratio DVDs are bad?
First, even with the information listed in the previous question, some people will still prefer full screen 4:3 over 16:9 widescreen because the black bars or something else just irks them. Everyone has their own preference, so neither of them is bad. If you like full screen presentations of movies for whatever reason, then by all means, dont change. It is just important for those who arent aware of all of the details and facts surrounding widescreen vs. full screen, to understand those facts so that they can better understand the formats themselves and make their own decisions on which version they prefer.
Another thing of importance to grasp is that not ALL 4:3 movies have been modified. Some movies are made for T.V and as a result they were never modified to begin with. These movies are perfectly fine as you arent going to notice people cut off or stretched because it was filmed in this way as opposed to be modified just to fit a standard television screen. Also, some animated movies which were originally theatrical releases in widescreen format such as ANTS actually had the full screen version which had characters repositioned. This takes a considerable amount of work and in most cases just doesnt happen. But with Ants, the studios decided to reposition the characters in the full screen version so that they resembled where theyd be in the original theatrical aspect ratio as closely as possible when watched on a standard television. So what this all ultimately boils down to is which version you prefer.
13. What is a coaster, I keep hearing and reading people use the word Coaster?
There isnt anything special about this. A Coaster references a poorly burned or bad DVDR disc. Once the disc fails burning or has issues playing, the only thing it is good for is a coaster to set your drink on, a DRINK COASTER.
14. How do I know a DVD disc will be compatible with my burner?
Please refer to our hardware compatibility chart.
15. When I watch my discs they skip or freeze, why does this happen?
The reason this happens usually is because your burner or media arent fully compatible. Some burners will burn the cheapest media in the world, while others have problems some of the best media in the world. For the most part though, with the most current burners you can burn just about any type of media. The lasers and firmware of the burners have progressively gotten better and better to the point where the error rate is very low. But if you notice this with your DVDRs, purchase a different brand and try those. Some drives like certain media better then others. You just have to experience which ones work best for you. If you notice freezing where you see a bunch of little squares on your television, that is called pixelation and that is also another sign of either bad DVDR media, or an incompatibility between the media you are using and your DVD Burner.
16. What speeds can I burn my DVDR discs at?
DVDR discs have certified write speeds. They started out years ago at 1x which would take about an hour to burn. Then came 2x and 2.4x, and then 4x. 4x takes approximately 15 minutes to burn. 8x and 12x certified discs have recently been released and 16x will also soon be released. Some people use hacked firmware which will allow the write speeds of certain lower certified discs to be circumvented. This means you could burn @ 8x to some 4x media. Plextor actually created the 708A dual format 8x drive which allowed 8x burn speeds achieved to many types of 4x media without the need for hacked firmware. Most of the discs you purchase, will specify the write speed on the website you buy from, or if you are in a store, theyll specify the maximum write speed on the package itself.
17. Why does it take approximately 15 minutes to burn a 4x disc, but it takes approximately 9 minutes to burn a full 8x DVDR disc?
The reason for this again is very technical. But again, in simple terms, the reason for this is because of technology called CAV, CLV AND ZCLV. CAV stands for Constant Angular Velocity, CLV stands for Constant Linear Velocity, and ZCLV stands for Zoned Constant Linear Velocity. These things refer to the way a disc is written. 4x discs use CLV and for the most part burn at 4x all the way from beginning to end, while 8x discs use ZCLV which is a combination of CLV and CAV. 8x DVDR discs dont burn at 8x from beginning to end. This is why 8x discs dont burn at ~7 and a half minutes, half of what 4x would be.
18. Can I or Should I burn at lower speeds then the maximum rated speed of my DVDR disc?
This is a question many ask and the answer is sure you can burn at a lower rated speed. If you purchase 4x discs, there are almost always lower write strategies on those discs. Your burning software has a drop box which will allow you to lower the write speed if there is a lower write speed available. One thing you have to be careful of is rumors. Many people claim that burning at a lower speed is better, but there is no solid evidence to back that statement. In contrast, many others say that burning at lower speeds will give you worse results, and then if you burned at the maximum write speed. With this being said, there isnt anything wrong with burning at the maximum rated speed for the discs you purchase. Also, 8x discs cost more then 4x discs and 4x discs cost more then 2x discs. So it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to spend more on 8x discs, just to burn at 4x or even lower.
19. Does your mini DVD-R work with my camcorder?
Yes. Please check your camera's owners manual.
20. Why my DVD disc cannot playback on the DVD player?
The DVD media might not be compatible with your DVD player. Please choose another compatible media
21. What DVD Player software do you recommend?