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What Should I Consider When Buying a DVD Recorder?

By Katharine Swan
Updated May 16, 2024
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A DVD recorder is basically just like a video cassette recorder (VCR), except that instead of playing and recording tapes, it plays and records DVDs. You can buy a DVD recorder either as its own unit, or in combination with a VCR. Something to consider when buying a DVD recorder is that a standalone model won’t read computer files or hook up to your computer. If you want to be able to play and record DVDs on your computer as well, you’ll probably want to look for a DVD burner instead of a DVD recorder.

Another thing to consider when buying a DVD recorder is where you want to be able to play your DVDs. While most of the world sells DVD recorders that record and play DVDs in the PAL format – a format with an increased number of scan lines, and therefore a better picture – some areas, such as most of the Americas, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, use an inferior format called NTSC. What this basically means is that if you record a disc on a DVD recorder that uses one format, you won’t be able to play it on a DVD player that uses the other. If it is important to you to be able to play and record DVDs in either format, you’ll want to look into built-in and external converters.

Besides the two formats described above, there are several types of disc formats. DVD-R is a basic disc that can only be recorded on once; DVD-R DL discs are similar, but they have a double layer that offers additional storage space; DVD-RW is the basic disc that can be edited and re-recorded; DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, and DVD-RAM are discs that have been marketed as being easier to use and offering greater compatibility with DVD players. It’s important to know the differences between these, and which you’d like to be able to use, before shopping for a DVD recorder: look for one that will be compatible with the formats you want to use. You can also find a DVD recorder that is compatible with all formats.

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