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I subscribe to the Kim Komando tip of the day newsletter (and her site of the day which is where a lot of my wacky stuff comes from). She's awesome at explaining things for the non-computer literate without alienating those who are. Anyway, today's Q&A struck me as interesting... scroll down to the bolded part to see what I'm talking about.

Q. I have held off purchase of a DVD burner. But now that dual-layer
and dual-format burners are available, I suggest that an update by
you would be useful.

A. Thank you for the suggestion. It has been awhile since I've written
about DVD burners (so-named because they "burn" data to a disc with a
laser and heat). You'll be thrilled to hear that the DVD situation is
as muddled as ever!

DVDs were introduced in 1997. For some time, there were two standards:
DVD-RAM and DVD-R/RW. The first was primarily for data, such as
backups. DVD-R/RW could be used for anything (R means recordable, so it
can be used once; RW discs are re-writable, so they can be recorded
hundreds or thousands of times).

In 2001, Hewlett-Packard brought out DVD+R/RW.

In addition, there are single-layer and dual-layer discs. The former
hold 4.7 gigabytes of data; dual-layer discs can handle 8.7 GBs.

Disc drive manufacturers have solved this problem by producing drives
that read more than one format. Drives that burn and read both - and +
discs are common. There are also many drives that handle both RAM and
-RW or -R.

So, how will you use your discs? Are you burning home movies and
planning to show them on your TV? In that case, you'll need a DVD
player to show the movies. The burner must be capable of producing
discs that the player can handle. That shouldn't be too bad; most
new players will run most discs. Older players are most comfortable
with -R or +R.

If you're backing up your hard drive, and will be reading the discs
with the same burner that makes them, there is no issue. If different
drives are making and reading the discs, match them up. Again, -R and
+R are likely to be the most compatible.

RAM is available in some video cameras. These cameras generally record
directly to disc. They can record in -R, too. Again, you'll have to
match up burners and players, especially if you'll be editing the
movies in the computer, then burning them to a new disc.

OK, take a couple aspirin and have a seat. There's more.

We haven't even touched on Blu-ray drives. They're not out yet
in the United States, but they're coming.

Blu-ray refers to a blue-violet laser. That has a shorter
wavelength than today's red laser. So the data takes much less
space. Blu-ray discs will hold 23.3 to 54 gigabytes of data,
depending on the standard. (CD, DVD and Blu-ray discs are all the
same physical size.)

What will they do with the extra capacity? One use certainly
will be to record high-definition programming. The more data
available, the clearer the picture. Two hours of high-definition
programming will fit on a 25 GB disc.

Unfortunately, there are at least four standards for Blu-ray. Most
companies have lined up behind the original Blu-ray. Another standard,
HD-DVD, is emerging. It is backed by NEC, Toshiba and Sanyo. There are
a couple other standards, but these two look like the ones we'll have
to worry about.

Some Blu-ray consumer equipment is on the market in Japan. I expect
to see it here before long.

Should you wait? I wouldn't. No matter what, something better is always
on the horizon. I advise you to buy a burner that suits your needs.
Your needs may change in a few years. If they do, buy a new DVD burner
then. You can play the waiting game right into your grave.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2004 11:59 am (UTC)
Blu-ray is actually why Disney (among other companies) completely changed their DVD release schedule for the next 2-plus years. For instance Disney's Platinum Series of DVDs, thus far including Snow White, Beauty + The Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin (in October) were supposed to be released one-a-year for 10 years, and including some movies in that collection which would be recieving their first appearance on DVD.
But then, Blu-ray started hitting the market, high-definition widescreen TVs started getting popular, and Disney realized that there was money to be made here. Because the current Platinum series is enhanced for widescreen but not for HD-TV, Disney decided to hurry up the Platinum series to TWO-a-year, so that shortly after the series is finished, Disney expects a year or two delay and then is prepared to start releasing their animated classics in HD-TV, blu-ray versions, which are at a higher quality.
Since Disney expects more consumers to have HD-TVs by then, Disney also assumes that we as consumers are going to want to start re-buying all our DVDs in HD-TV format within 3 years from now. Kinda smart business-wise, but sketchy when you think about it. Of course, as Kim says, why wait 3 years for the movie you wanna buy now?
And P.S. Disney isn't the only company doing this, just one of the ones that easier to track as the Platinum series was announced years ago and just last year, they changed the release schedule for it.

... and yes, I'm a crazy dork. :P
Sep. 22nd, 2004 12:11 pm (UTC)
Crazy dorks UNITE! :-)
Sep. 22nd, 2004 12:11 pm (UTC)
oh, and thanks for the info. *note to self: Disney is evil* :-P
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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