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Blank CD/DVD Recordable Media Buying Guide
Table of contents
If you own or plan to own a CD/DVD burner you will need blank recordable CD or DVD media to record to. A burner works together with blank recordable or rewriteable optical discs to preserve document files as well as audio/video files such as music, photos and movies. With large capacities and excellent portability, CD/DVD R/RW discs are capable of storing much more data than floppy disks. In addition, CD/DVD R/RW discs can be played back an unlimited number of times and benefit from long service lives.
There is a wide range of optical discs currently being manufactured and used - each has its own features and functionalities. Below we list the most popular optical discs types including recordable/rewriteable CDs and DVDs, as well as read-only CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs.
CD-ROM disc (not recordable/rewriteable)
Currently a CD format disc is capable of storing 650MB to 700MB data. Note that CD-ROM discs are not recordable or rewriteable.
CD-Recordable discs are write-once only recordable discs. These discs work in all CD-supporting drives (please refer to our compatibility list below). CD-R discs compete with standard CDs in terms of playback quality. Most 12cm (standard size) CD-R discs come with capacities of 650MB to 700MB.
The CD-Rewritable format disc can be rewritten to repeatedly. It also works in all CD-supported drives and match standard CDs or CD-R discs in terms of playback quality. Currently CD-RW discs come with capacities of about 650MB to 700MB (the same as CD-ROM and CD-R discs).
DVD-ROM disc (not recordable/rewriteable)
The Digital Versatile Disc provides superb video, audio and data file storage and access all on one disc. The DVD allows two-hours of video storage on a single layer disc and nearly double that on a dual layer disc. A single layer DVD disc is capable of storing 4.7GB while a double layer disc stores 8.5 GB. Note that DVD-ROM discs are not recordable or rewriteable.
DVD+Recordable discs are write-once recordable DVD discs that can be burned in DVD burners. DVD+R discs can be played back in most DVD-ROM drives, DVD burners and DVD players. A DVD+R disc stores 4.7GB, which is equal to the total capacity of about a half-dozen CD-R discs.
Note: The DVD+R format is supported by the DVD+RW Alliance. http://www.dvdrw.com/
The DVD+RW format can be regarded as the rewriteable sibling of the DVD+R format. It can be erased, formatted and rewritten repeatedly in a DVD burner. DVD+RW discs offer playback in most DVD-ROM drives, DVD burners and DVD players as well. A DVD+RW disc also offers 4.7GB data storage capacity, which is the equivalent of a half-dozen of CD-RW discs.
Note: The DVD+RW format is supported by the DVD+RW Alliance. http://www.dvdrw.com/
DVD+R DL disc
The DVD+Recordable Double Layer format is another write-once solution with broad compatibility in most DVD-supporting drives. The value of the DVD+R DL disc is found in its massive capacity – nearly double that of a DVD+R (single layer) disc. A DVD+R DL disc is currently capable of storing 8.5GB.
Note: The DVD+R DL format is supported by the DVD+RW Alliance. http://www.dvdrw.com/
DVD-Recordable discs are write-once DVD discs that provide broad compatibility with most DVD-supporting drives. This format allows 4.7GB data to be stored on one disc, which is about the total capacity of half a dozen CD-R discs. There is no difference between the DVD+R and DVD-R formats for most users as they are about equal in terms of compatibility, capacity, and physical size.
Note: The DVD-R format is supported by the DVD Forum. http://www.dvdforum.com
The rewritable sibling of DVD-R format, the DVD-Rewriteable disc can be formatted and rewritten repeatedly in DVD burners. A burned DVD-RW disc can be played back in most DVD-supporting drives. A DVD-RW disc offers 4.7GB storage capacity, which is equivalent to a half-dozen of CD-RW discs.
Note: The DVD-RW format is supported by the DVD Forum. http://www.dvdforum.com
DVD-R DL disc
The DVD-Recordable Double Layer format is another write-once solution with broad compatibility in most DVD-supporting drives. The value of the DVD-R DL disc is found in its massive capacity – nearly double that of a DVD-R (single layer) disc. A DVD-R DL disc is currently capable of storing 8.5GB.
Note: The DVD-R DL format is supported by the DVD Forum. http://www.dvdforum.com
The DVD-RAM format is similar in terms of capacity to other single layer DVD recordable/rewriteable discs, but is characterized by its built-in random access storage allowing it to be read, written and erased repeatedly as is the case in hard disk drives and flash memory. Note that a DVD-RAM disc can be played back in DVD Multi Player and DVD Multi Recorder drives but can only be burned in the latter.
Note: The DVD-RAM format is supported by the DVD Forum. http://www.dvdforum.com
Optical Disc Types
Optical Drive – Optical Disc Compatibility Matrix
1 Some older CD-RW/DVD COMBO, DVD-ROM and DVD burner drives may not support all DVD format discs.
In addition to the optical disc format, there are other details that are worth paying attention to, including the disc X rating, printable discs, and LightScribe technology.
Although CD/DVD discs are typically produced in standard 12cm form, there are also 8cm CD/DVD recordable/rewriteable discs manufactured for use special equipment such as DVD camcorders. 8cm discs provide lower storage capacities – an 8cm CD provides 180 to 200MB in comparison to a standard CD's 650 to 700MB, while an 8cm DVD has a 1.4GB capacity in comparison to the standard disc's 4.7GB.
Optical drive speeds (e.g. burning, reading) are measured using the X rating, as are the speeds supported by optical discs. A higher write speed is possible if both the burner and the blank disc support it. For example, if you want to burn a DVD+/-R disc at a max speed of 16X, both your DVD burner and your DVD+/-R disc should support the maximum write speed of 16X - if either of them supports a lower maximum speed (e.g. 8X) the disc will be burned at the lower speed (e.g. 8X).
Printable discs enable the creation of discs with colorful printed surfaces instead of dull handwritten titles. There are two types of printable discs in use now: thermal and inkjet. They are applied to CD/DVD-supporting thermal printers and inkjet printers respectively.
LightScribe is an innovative piece of technology that allows for the direct labeling of optical discs via laser. More specifically, LightScribe burns any image or text onto the surface of LightScribe-supporting CDs and DVDs without the use of adhesive labels, paint, or ink. With a LightScribe-supporting optical drive and corresponding software, you can create unique labels on LightScribe-recordable discs by yourself.
DVD+R or DVD-R?
DVD+R and DVD-R are both recordable DVD formats providing broad compatibility with current DVD devices, but DVD-R discs offer better compatibility with older model DVD-ROM drives and DVD players.
Recordable or ReWriteable media?
Recordable media can only be written to once, while rewriteable media allows repeated writing and erasing. For long-term data backup, photo and movie storage, recordable discs are better options; but for temporary data storage, rewriteable discs can make more sense as they can be reused in the future. However, rewriteable discs usually cost more than recordable discs.
Single Layer or Double/Dual Layer DVD?
A single layer DVD disc has a capacity of 4.7GB and a double/dual layer DVD disc 8.5GB, but a double/dual layer DVD disc is far more costly—more than twice the price of a single layer disc at the current time.
If there is more than 4.7 GB of data to be stored on a single disc, go ahead and choose a double/dual layer DVD budget permitting. If not, two single layer DVD discs make a lot of sense too.