NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, February 2004
Users still need to know more about popular, new DVD technology
by Linda Gonse, Orange County IBM PC Users' Group
(click to email author)

DVD writers and recordable DVDs are a fairly new entry into Personal Computerland. Consequently, most of us still need to know what to look for in a DVD writer and how to record DVDs.

Almost everyone knows that a DVD is a type of optical disc that looks like a CD, but has a significantly larger storage capacity.

What you might not know is that the capacity of a DVD may vary depending on different physical formats technology, ranging from 4.7 GB to 17.1 GB. And, while CDs are recorded only on one side, some DVDs such as DVD-RAM, support two layers per side and are rewritable up to 100,000 times. (This type of DVD is enclosed in a plastic case similar to a floppy disk which protects its surfaces and provides a label area.)

Another reason DVD drives are growing in popularity is that they can read most CD media as well. With such impressive features, it isn't surprising that DVDs are expected to become the next CD-ROM. In many cases, manufacturers are even building new PCs with DVD drives instead of CD drives.

The DVD "started in 1994 as two competing formats, Super Disc (SD) and Multimedia CD (MMCD). DVD now is the result of an agreement by both camps on a single standard to meet the requirements of all the various industries involved," according to Deluxe Global Media Services (formerly Disctronics). But, media formats still split into two groups: + (plus), or - (known commonly as minus; manufacturers may refer to it as dash). The quality comparison is close, and some DVD players will recognize both, while other models will only accept + or -.

Although there are many aspects of DVDs that we still need to learn, one of the basic questions people inevitably ask is, "What do the letters in DVD mean?"

The letters originally stood for Digital VideoDisc. As the technology gained in importance to the computer world, the word "video" was dropped, and the media and the technology was simply D-V-D. Later, it was given the name Digital Versatile Disc by the DVD Forum, which sets DVD standards. Most people just say D-V-D.

In addition, "The Burning Question," by Don Labriola, a detailed, comprehensive look at DVD recording with reviews on 23 products, is in the October 28, 2003 issue of PC magazine; it's also online at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1306042,00.asp. For an excellent overview of DVD technology and disks, history, specifications, formats, DVD-5, -10, -9, -18, hybrid formats, file systems, copy protection, and DVD Forum, go to http://www.disctronics.co.uk/technology/dvdintro/dvd_intro.htm.

Note: This is the manufacturers' description of the Jackrabbit DVD writer/player.

The DVD writer is a Philips Jackrabbit JR32RWDVK — “Smart, Mobile, Multi Purpose, DVD Player, CD Rewriter / DVD Read Combo, Audio MP3 CD Player. The first ‘All-in-One’ device that converges your Home and PC environments.”

Linda is the editor and webmaster for Orange County IBM PC Users' Group, in Southern California. You can contact her at editor@orcopug.org. Or, visit the user group's website at http://www.orcopug.org.

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this article to you.

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