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What is a DVD Burner?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 16, 2024
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A DVD burner is a device used to encode or "burn" information onto a blank DVD. A DVD is a form of storage media, 12 cm (4.72 inches) or 8 cm (3.15 inches) across, that can typically hold 4.7 gigabytes (GB) of information. This is enough to hold a three-hour movie at high quality, ten TV episodes, about 75 hours of .MP3 files, or roughly 15 hours of video in the lower-grade .AVI format. The DVD is thought of as the successor to the conventional CD (compact disk), and common formats include DVD-R and DVD-RW, a rewritable version of the DVD.

DVDs are typically quite inexpensive, and they cost even less when bought in bulk. The cost of these storage media has fallen rapidly throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, and continues to become more affordable as manufacturing costs diminish. The burner allows this storage medium to become even more flexible than before.

Initially, the acronym "DVD" was supposed to stand for digital video disc, but because it can hold any type of data, not just video, members of the inter-corporation DVD Forum refer to it as a digital versatile disc. DVD players became affordable sometime around 1999, as their cost dropped below $300 US Dollars (USD). The DVD burner has always been more expensive, but its price has dropped as well.

The DVD burner has largely displaced its predecessor, the CD burner, especially since prices have fallen to the point that most computer owners can afford them. DVDs and burners are widely used with video, which is storage-hungry in comparison to text and music files.

A major worry for the industry is that the DVD burner might be used widely to pirate copyrighted DVDs. Indeed, many people now download videos using file-sharing programs and then burn them to DVDs. Most commercial discs have special safeguards to discourage their copying, however.

A DVD has a recording layer coated in an organic dye. A DVD burning laser, of higher intensity than a typical DVD reading laser, etches patterns into the dye, allowing the data to be read at a later date. A rewritable DVD uses a special metal alloy instead of a dye. The alloy can be switched back and forth between an amorphous and crystalline phase through the application of a laser, allowing the DVD to be rewritten a substantial number of times. Data quality degrades if the DVD is rewritten excessively, however.

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Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov , Writer
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated EasyTechJunkie contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.

Discussion Comments

By anon70867 — On Mar 16, 2010

i just learned how to burn dvds but for some reason the burned dvds don't play on my dvd player but on my friend's? how do i fix that or should i buy a dvd burner and don't use my computer any more?

By veva — On Oct 20, 2009

If the dvd burner runs slow when burning files, the reason may be rooted in that the dvd burner is not good enough to give you a fast speed to get files burned.

By anon43398 — On Aug 28, 2009

I have just bought a DVD writer. I have successfully downloaded a film and copied it onto a DVD which I can watch on my PC (sound and vision), but cannot get sound on my DVD player (although vision is OK). Any ideas?

By bigmac — On Mar 04, 2008

I just Installed a dvd burner in my computer. It will burn CD's but not DVD's.

Also when I try to play a DVD, it freezes. I have to reboot.

It is a NEC-3520A-KIT 16X multi format DVD burner.



By reva — On Dec 20, 2007

why is my dvd so slow in burning the dvd?

By gobeavs1 — On Jun 11, 2007

While I undertand the different DVD formats, I'm confused about how I go about burning my own DVD-ROM. I have several home movies I'd like to burn onto a DVD to preserve them. I'd like to final product to be like a CD where I can pop the DVD in my drive ans "see" a listing of the movies stored there and click on one of them to play it or copy it back onto my computer for possible editing. Is this possible? If so, how do I do it with my DVD burner?

Michael Anissimov

Michael Anissimov


Michael Anissimov is a dedicated EasyTechJunkie contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology,...
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