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A Few Semi-Technical Questions

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by SteveK, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

    Jan 10, 2000
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    I recently purchased a Toshiba RD-XS32 HDD and DVD-R/RW recorder, and so far I am very pleased with its performance. However, I am curious about several things of a semi-technical nature.

    First, the recorder can write on DVD-RAM, DVD-R or DVD-RW, but cannot record on DVD+R or DVD+RW. Exactly what is the difference between -R and +R, or between -RW and +RW? You don't have to worry about compatability on CD, as I've never seen CD+R or CD+RW. I know that manufacturers were unable to agree on a standard (what else is new?) and that therefore we have both - and + for DVD. But I'm curious about the difference between the two.

    Second, my Toshiba can use 4x DVD-R, but apparently can use only 2x DVD-RW. I bought some 4x DVD-RW and could not even format them for use. Again comparing to CD, I don't remember having to be concerned about the maximum speed on the CD-Rs that I've purchased. I have a 24x CD recorder, but I can use CDs with a higher maximum speed if I wish. Of course, my recorder won't actually record faster, but I don't have to worry about incompatability issues no matter what "speed" CD I buy (if I remember correctly). Why can I not use a 4x DVD-RW, even if my recorder can only write at 2x on RW, or buy an 8x DVD-R for use on my 4x DVD-R recorder? It seems that for CD, the speed limitation is a MAXIMUM, but the CD itself will work on any CD burner with any slower speed, whereas for DVD, the speed limitation is both a maximum and a minimum (although I have seen DVD-RW which state they are also 2x compatible). Some 4x DVD-RWs even include a warning to use only on 4x compatible units; otherwise damage to both the disc and the unit may occur. Why is this such an issue with DVD but not with CD?

    Third, I have both an older and a relatively new Panasonic DVD player. The owner's manual for each clearly states that it will not play DVD-RW, and the manual for the older Panasonic also says it will not play DVD-R. Yet I was able to play a finalized DVD-R on both machines, and the DVD-RW could be played on the newer machine but not the older one. Does the "finalization" process somehow make the DVD-R "look" like a regular DVD-Video disc? I know that unfinalized discs can be more problematic, but it seems most DVD players will play finalized DVD-Rs, even if they can't play unfinalized ones.

    Sorry for the length of this post, and I look forward to any information you can provide. Thanks in advance for any responses.

    Steve K.
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    I can't help you with the first two questions, but I can tell you that every Panasonic player I've ever tried handles DVD-R, even my old A310, which is a very early model. However, the older player is a lot more finicky than my more recent Panasonics, and often has trouble with DVD-Rs that the others play without problems -- they skip, break up or, in some cases, just won't load.

    Yes, that's supposed to be the effect. But it's my understanding that the media are physically different. So while the DVD-R may "look" like a commercially produced DVD, the material in which the digital information is recorded is different and a player that's not equipped to handle the difference may get confused. (I have one of the original Sony players, and it simply refuses to read any recordable DVD format.)


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