DVD burners distinguish themselves by how fast they work and their compatibility
with the many different recordable disc formats. If you are interested in
reading or writing to Blu-ray Discs, a Blu-ray burner will add compatibility
and also read and write to other types of discs (DVDs and CDs) as well. A
combo drive will read but not write to Blu-ray Discs, but will write to DVDs
and CDs. Here's some other things to keep in mind as you look for a DVD burner:
- If you plan to burn home movies to DVD, check your
DVD player's manual for format compatibility. Most current players can read both DVD+R and
DVD-R formats, but older models may read only one or the other. With today's
multi-format drives, this shouldn't affect your drive choice, but it
will determine whether you buy DVD-R or DVD+R media.
- You will need a free drive
bay for an internal drive if you are not replacing an existing drive. There are numerous guides on the Internet on how to install a drive in
case the documentation provided is inadequate.
- External DVD burners connect with
FireWire or USB 2.0. You'll need one of those ports if you prefer an
external model. No drives come with FireWire cables.
- Get the right media for your
burner. With multi-format burners, media type isn't a big issue. However,
speed ratings are still important. 20x drives need 20x media if you're
going to benefit from the speed advantage. If you buy 12x or 16x media,
they'll burn at lower speeds on some burners. Others can exceed the disc's
maximum rated speed. Also, a burner is only as good as the blank media
you give it; use discs from a reliable brand, or else you'll end up making
a lot of coasters.
- Critics say that there's little reason
to spring for a Blu-ray burner at this time. That may change as the
cost of the drives and media come down. In the meantime, burners that read
-- but don't write to -- BD media, but burn to all other types, are worth
considering if you want to add Blu-ray Disc playback to a PC.