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What Should I Consider When Buying a DVD Drive?

When purchasing a DVD drive, consider compatibility with your computer, read/write speeds, and whether it supports various disc formats. Look for drives with robust build quality and reliable customer reviews. Noise levels and software bundles can also influence your choice. Think about your specific needs—will you be archiving data, watching movies, or creating media? Ready to find the perfect DVD drive for your tasks?
Shannon Kietzman
Shannon Kietzman

DVD drives are available in many different speeds with a variety of options and formats. The main factor to consider when purchasing a DVD drive is its purpose. Usually, a DVD drive is intended to play DVD movies and audio CDs, as well as to read DVD-Rom and CD-Rom discs.

Consumers interested in obtaining a more advanced DVD drive will need to consider other options, such as burners, drives that support DVD-R technology, and drives that support DVD+R technology. The only difference between the two formats is the way the DVD drive determines the position of the laser on the disc. DVD-R discs are read by the DVD drive through special grooves on the disc known as land prepits, whereas DVD+R measures a disc's wobble frequency. A consumer can also purchase a "dual-DVD" drive that supports both the DVD-R and DVD+R format, typically known as DVD±R.

A stack of DVDs.
A stack of DVDs.

The DVD-R format, which was introduced by Pioneer in 1997, was the first to hit the market. The DVD-R is a write once, read only optical disc that enables the user to copy movies or data with a capacity of 4.37 GB using the DVD drive. The DVD-RW format can be written and re-written multiple times.

The DVD-R format was split into two types in 2000 for security reasons. These types are DVD-R for Authoring, or DVD-R(a), and DVD-R for General, or DVD-R(g). Although these types of DVD-R can read each other, they cannot write in each other's format.

DVD and Blu-Ray players use an optical drive to playback movies stored on an optical disk.
DVD and Blu-Ray players use an optical drive to playback movies stored on an optical disk.

In 2002, Sony and Phillips introduced the DVD+R format. All DVD+R formats are compatible with each other. DVD+R has the same capacity as a DVD-R, and DVD+RW works exactly as a DVD-RW. This format also offers DVD+RW DL. The DL stands for dual layer, a technology which allows a single disc to hold up to 8.5 GB of information. The DVD-RAM offers more storage capacity, but it requires a specialized DVD drive which is more expensive.

The DVD-RAM format enables the disc to be re-written with the DVD drive up to 100,000 times as opposed to only 1,000 times or so for an average DVD-RW. It can be two-sided, enabling as much as 9.74 GB on a single DVD-RAM disc. This disc is best for users with mass portable storage needs.

A "dual DVD" drive or DVD±R with DVD-RAM is very versatile, as it reads all formats of DVD technology and is capable of writing to all forms. Typically, a user will achieve speeds of 16x write for DVD+/-, 8x write for DVD+ DL and 5x write for DVD-RAM, as well as the capacity to write regular CD-R at 48x with this type of DVD drive. This ensures any format of disc will work when using the dual DVD drive.

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    • A stack of DVDs.
      A stack of DVDs.
    • DVD and Blu-Ray players use an optical drive to playback movies stored on an optical disk.
      By: thawats
      DVD and Blu-Ray players use an optical drive to playback movies stored on an optical disk.