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DVD+R and DVD-R 101: An Explanation for Beginners

Multi Media and Internet


Businessman holding compact disc on his finger
Dimitri Otis/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

DVD Recorders: The Difference Between DVD-R and DVD+R?

August, 2013

Part 1: What Is "DVD" Media, and How Is It Different From CDs?

Answer: DVD, which was originally named for Digital Video Disc, now means Digital Versatile Disc. It is a special recording format for computers, audio, and TV/movies.

Superficially, a DVD disc looks just like a CD. It is 120mm in diameter, and 1.2mm in thickness(comprised of two polycarbonate substrates, 0.6mm each). Unlike CDs, however, DVD discs can be single or double sided. Furthermore, each DVD side may contain a second invisible "layer" to increase the disc's storage capacity.

On just one side, a DVD media disc can hold up to 13 times the information of a standard CD (13 x 700 megabytes).

Common DVD storage capacities are:
4.7GB (single sided/single layer)
9.4GB (double sided/1 layer)
8.5GB (single sided/dual layer)
17.1GB (double sided/dual layer)

Trivia: DVD discs are very data-sturdy, and do not wear out through repeated use. And unlike VHS cassettes and floppy diskettes, DVD discs are unaffected by magnetic fields. A DVD movie you buy, even after 10,000 playings, will have video reproduction identical to the day you bought it.

Part 2: Choosing a DVD Player-Burner For Yourself: DVD "dash" R versus DVD "plus" R

If you simply need a DVD player for your PC or your TV, then the choices are relatively straightforward. Outside of the bells and whistles of "progressive scan", bookmarking, and other enhancements, every DVD player is effectively the same for the basic functions.

If you are shopping for a DVD player-burner (that plays AND records DVDs), then you have two major format choices to evaluate, and they can be confusing:

Burner Choice 1) DVD-R or DVD-RW Format

Burner Choice 2) DVD+R or DVD+RW Format

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