DVDs offer loads of storage space and convenience, but keep in mind
by Alan Zisman (c) 2003 First published in Business
in Vancouver , Issue #722 August 26-September 1, 2003,
seemingly huge amount
of storage, the 700 MB that fit on a CD disc are too few for users
with video files and large audio collections, or just wanting to back
the multiple gigabytes of modern hard drives. Not surprisingly,
DVD drives, capable of writing up to 4.7 GB onto each blank disc, have
become increasingly popular. Sales of PCs fitted out with recordable
drives jumped 550 per cent in the first half of 2003 compared with last
year. Sales of standalone DVD burners have also taken off, helped by
prices of drives and blank discs (now about $5 each).
remains the confusion
of too-similar sounding DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW standards, but as long as
users remember which sort of blank discs their hardware uses, it
make too much difference. And many of the newer models can burn either
format of disc.
an issue for users
looking to add a DVD burner to an existing computer is whether to get
internal or external model. Internal models save a few dollars in
for having to open a PC's case while external ones just plug in and can
be used with multiple computers. If your computer is a notebook, an
drive is probably your only choice.
multiple gigabytes stored
on a DVD require a fast connection. For an external drive, that means
a Firewire (aka IEEE 1394) or USB 2.0 port. If your desktop or notebook
lacks both, you will need an expansion card with one or the other (or
buy a DVD burner,
check the software bundle that comes with it. That low-priced model may
be less of a bargain if you need to buy additional software. You want
to create standard data, music CDs and DVDs. As well, look for software
for backup, to import video from digital camcorders, and to create
multi-chapter video DVDs.
three from the
current crop of external DVD writers. All offer speedy four-times DVD
twice the speed of last year's models. (This is measured differently
CD burners, where four-times speed is slow.) Note that in real life,
speed may be limited by the speed rating of your blank discs.
discs are slower and more expensive than the write-once versions. As
each comes with both USB 2.0 and Firewire ports, offering users a
of connections. A consideration for notebook users: these external
require AC power. Don't plan to use one on a plane trip or out at the
is now on its
third generation of DVD burners, with the $380 external DVD Writer
It includes a comprehensive software bundle, including the aptly named
Veritas Simple Backup and ArcSoft ShowBiz for video authoring.
HP's DVD burners only
support the DVD +R/RW standard, Sony's $650 DRX510UL
users burn both +R/RW and -R/RW discs (along with CD-R/RW discs). Like
HP's model, this external drive includes backup (Retrospect Express)
DVD authoring (Sonic Solutions MyDVD) software.
the Firewire port on these drives can physically connect to most recent
Macs, neither HP nor Sony includes Mac-friendly software. And while
pioneered computers with DVD burners built-in, the company doesn't sell
the hardware to let Mac-owners add DVD burning to existing Macs and
iDVD software doesn't work with third-party drives.
DVD+/-RW drive supports both the +R/RW and -R/RW standards and
with Macs and Windows, making it a good choice for individuals or
that work with both platforms. (Note that different packages contain
Windows or mostly Mac software.)
of getting a DVD
burner to "back up" commercial DVD movies? Don't bother. You'll need
software, and you'll end up with an inferior copy at best.