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DVD Writers: Is Now the Time to Buy?

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DVD writers are the fastest growing segment in the storage industry today. It is posed to become the next common storage method because the size restrictions of the optical CD storage is becoming quickly outdated. Add to that the ability to generate your own digital quality movies and its no surprise that the drives are being bought by every parent across the country to make permanent high quality records that they can give out to relatives of their latest child's antics. But does all this mean that now is the time you want to go out and buy one of the latest technologies?

The Good

There are two advantages to the DVD writers on the market today: storage and digital video. Most DVD standards out there today will store 4.7 gigabytes or more of data on a single disc. This is eight times the storage capacity of the standard compact disc media on the market. If this optical drive is meant to create backups of data from hard drives, this means that there are a fewer discs to maintain for storage compared to that produced from a CD writer.

All those aspiring directors out there are thrilled at the concept of computer video editing and burning their creations to DVD. Most of the DVD writers on the market will allow some form of encoding of digital video from a computer or other source to a DVD media that can be played back in most DVD players. This flexibility and durability means that you can take old VHS tapes and convert them to DVDs for more permanent storage or create more compact DVDs that can be easily sent through the mail to friends and relatives.

The Bad

Which type of DVD writer out there is the right one to get? Which format is the best format to use when making your videos or backups? Currently there are 4 competing formats for the DVD write market: DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW. Each format has its advantages and its disadvantages to them. The biggest drawback to them all is that no one given format is guaranteed to work in all DVD players on the market. Even through you select one of the more compatible formats does not mean that it will work with the particular player or DVD-Rom drive that you or your relatives have.

Price is also one of the drawbacks. CD recordable can be found for well under $1 per compact disc. The average price for a similar DVD media is about $7 per disc. While this does fall to about the same price per megabyte as the CD media, it does mean that write failures or mistakes can end up costing a lot more money. As the format gains in popularity, this should become less of an issue.

The Ugly

Back in the early 1980's two video formats were battling it out to become the most favored standard for home video recording, VHS and Beta. After many years, pretty much everyone owned a VHS recorder and Beta was relegated to obscurity. The same is happening right now for DVD recording formats. The industry has various companies all hoping that one particular standard or another wins out. Other issues such as copy protection are also being discussed but in the end, no one format has been selected by the manufacturers to be the format for all recordable DVD drives and home units.

Because of this battle, the consumer is left waiting. If you select a drive now, the format the drive uses may end up not being selected by the industry which means that your data won't be compatible with newer drives. This could also lead to more expensive media as most media manufacturers will only produce for the largest segment of the market. Then there is the issue of price. Having a single standard helps to reduce costs by reducing license fees that manufacturers have to pay and providing more competition for the consumer. At this point, there is no clear indication of when the standard will be selected.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

If you just have to get a DVD writer today, there is hope. Sony has just started selling their DRU-500A DVD recordable drive. This drive supports all the current DVD and CD recording standards that are on the market. Buying this drives will mean that no matter what format is selected to be the industry standard, it will support that format. Of course, if you wait on buying a DVD writer you have a lot to gain. Holding off a purchase means that you will eventually have a selection of standard drive formats, better performing drives and at a price that will most likely be lower than the drives currently on the market.

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