DVD Burners Buying Guide

The days of the VHS tape  are long gone, but that doesn't mean that you should simply throw out your collection of old home movies .  With a DVD burner , you can put those precious memories on a disc  so they can truly last a lifetime--free from the risk of damaged tape and clunky VCRs .  DVD burners are also great for storing class and work presentations, photographs, music and your own cinematic creations (have you been playing with iMovie again?)  But if you're still stuck in the electronic dark ages, we're here to help.  Read on for some useful buying tips.

What Kind of Discs?

So you're searching the shelves and you see a bunch of letters and symbols.  What's it all mean? 

  • DVD discs  come in three forms: plus (+), dash (-) and DVD-RAM.
  • The DVD plus (+) format comes in three different forms: DVD+R (recordable), DVD+RW  (rewritable) and DVD+R DL  (double layer). The DVD dash (-) format also has three forms:DVD-R  (recordable), DVD-RW  (rewritable) andDVD-R DL  (double layer). Most new DVD burners support both formats.
  • DVD-R and DVD+R use write-once disks, whereas DVD-RW and DVD+RW disks are rewritable.
  • Research shows that DVD-R and DVD+R disks (the non-rewritable disks) are more playable on home DVD players.  
  • A DVD burner can write up to 4.7GB onto a single layer DVD disc or 8.5GB onto a double layer DVD disc.

Two Main Types

Choosing between an internal or external drive is largely a matter of cost and practicality within your lifestyle.

DVD Burners

Internal DVD Burner 

  • Cheaper than external models.
  • Take approximately an hour to install, while external models come essentially ready-to-go.
  • Installation may be difficult for those inexperienced with computers.

External DVD Burner 

  • More expensive that internal models.
  • Portable.
  • Easy to set up; you just plug it in.
  • Come with either a USB or Firewire connection.  Firewire is quicker than USB.

Other Considerations

  • Since CD-RW  drives are slowly becoming obsolete, it makes sense to purchase a CD-RW/DVD combo drive  so that you can still burn smaller amounts of data onto CDs (Plus, combination drives are very affordable).  If you know you're going to be consistently working with large amounts of data, however, a burner that is solely dedicated to DVDs is the best option. 
  • Since DVD-RAM  is capable of being rewriten far more times than the RW formats, it may be wise to invest in a DVD burner that is DVD-RAM compatible.

Major Manufacturers

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DVD Recorders

USB Flash Drives

Blank DVD 

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