DVD Types | DVD-RAM vs DVD-RW vs DVD-R vs DVD+R vs DVD+RW (2023)

Shopping for a simple DVD Disc and found many different types? let us help you compare all the different DVD types.

Let’s start at the very beginning, the creation of the DVD

DVD once stood for digital video disc or digital versatile disc, but now it just stands for DVD — the next generation of optical disc storage technology. DVD is essentially a bigger, faster CD that can hold cinema-like video, better-than-CD audio, and computer data.

DVD aims to encompass home entertainment, computers, and business information with a single digital format, eventually replacing audio CD, videotape, laserdisc, CD-ROM, and video game cartridges. DVD has widespread support from all major electronics companies, all major computer hardware companies, and all major movie and music studios. With this unprecedented support, DVD has become the most successful consumer electronics product of all time in less than three years of its introduction.

What is the DVD-RW?

DVD-RW (formerly DVD-R/W and also briefly known as DVD-ER) is a phase-change erasable format. Developed by Pioneer based on DVD-R, using similar track pitch, mark length, and rotation control, DVD-RW is playable in many DVD drives and players. (Some drives and players are confused by DVD-RW media’s lower reflectivity into thinking it’s a dual-layer disc.

In other cases the drive or player doesn’t recognize the disc format code and doesn’t even try to read the disc. Simple firmware upgrades can solve both problems.) DVD-RW uses groove recording with address info on land areas for synchronization at write time (land data is ignored during reading). Capacity is 4.7 billion bytes. DVD-RW discs can be rewritten about 1,000 times.

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What is the DVD-R?

DVD-R (which is pronounced “dash R” not “minus R”) uses organic dye technology, like CD-R, and is compatible with most DVD drives and players. First-generation capacity was 3.95 billion bytes, later extended to 4.7 billion bytes.

Matching the 4.7G capacity of DVD-ROM was crucial for desktop DVD production. In early 2000 the format was split into an “authoring” version and a “general” version. The general version, intended for home use, writes with a cheaper 650-nm laser, the same as DVD-RAM.

DVD-R(A) is intended for professional development and uses a 635-nm laser. DVD-R(A) discs are not writable in DVD-R(G) recorders, and vice-versa, but both kinds of discs are readable in most DVD players and drives.

The main differences, in addition to recording wavelength, are that DVD-R(G) uses decrementing pre-pit addresses, a pre-stamped (version 1.0) or pre-recorded (version 1.1) control area, CPRM, and allows double-sided discs. A third version for “special authoring,” allowing protected movie content to be recorded on DVD-R media, was considered but will probably not happen.

Pioneer released 3.95G DVD-R(A) 1.0 drives in October 1997 (about 6 months late). New 4.7G DVD-R(A) 1.9 drives appeared in limited quantities in May 1999 (about 6 months late). Version 2.0 drives became available in fall 2000. Version 1.9 drives can be upgraded to 2.0 via downloaded software. (This removes the 2,500 hour recording limit.)

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New 2.0 [4.7G] media (with newer copy protection features), can only be written in 2.0 drives. 1.9 media (and old 1.0 [3.95G] media) can still be written in 2.0 drives. Version 1.0 (3.95G) discs are still available, and can be recorded in Pioneer DVD-R(A) drives.

Although 3.95G discs hold less data, they are more compatible with existing players and drives. Pioneer’s DVR-A03 DVD-R(G) drive was released in May 2001. By August it was available for under $700, and by February 2002 it was under $400. The same drive (model DVR-103) was built into certain Apple Macs and Compaq PCs.

Many companies now produce DVD-RW drives, all of which write CD-R/RW. As of fall 2002 DVD-RW drives are selling for under $200. Most DVD-RAM drives also write DVD-R discs, some also write DVD-RW discs. A few new drives write both DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW.

Pioneer released a professional DVD video recorder in 2002. It provides component video (YPbPr) and 1394 (DV) inputs (along with s-video and composite). It has 1-hour (10 Mbps) and 2-hour (5 Mbps) recording modes, and includes a 2-channel Dolby Digital audio encoder. The DVD-R 1.0 format is standardized in ECMA-279. Andy Parsons at Pioneer has written a white paper that explains the differences between DVD-R(G) and DVD-R(A).

What is DVD-RAM?

DVD-RAM, with an initial storage capacity of 2.58 billion bytes, later increased to 4.7, uses phase-change dual (PD) technology with some magneto-optic (MO) features mixed in. DVD-RAM is the best suited of the writable DVD formats for use in computers, because of its defect management and zoned CLV format for rapid access.

However, it’s not compatible with most drives and players (because of defect management, reflectivity differences, and minor format differences). A wobbled groove is used to provide clocking data, with marks written in both the groove and the land between grooves.

(Video) Tech Support: DVD-R vs DVD+R

The grooves and pre-embossed sector headers are molded into the disc during manufacturing. Single-sided DVD-RAM discs come with or without cartridges. There are two types of cartridges: type 1 is sealed, type 2 allows the disc to be removed.

Discs can only be written while in the cartridge. Double-sided DVD-RAM discs were initially available in sealed cartridges only, but now come in removable versions as well. Cartridge dimensions are 124.6 mm x 135.5 mm x 8.0 mm. DVD-RAM can be rewritten more than 100,000 times, and the discs are expected to last at least 30 years.

The first DVD-ROM drive to read DVD-RAM discs was released by Panasonic in 1999 (SR-8583, 5x DVD-ROM, 32x CD). Hitachi’s GD-5000 drive, released in late 1999, also reads DVD-RAM discs. Blank DVD-RAM media is manufactured by Hitachi Maxell, JVC, Mitsubishi, Optodisc, TDK, Ritek and others.
The spec for DVD-RAM version 2.0, with a capacity of 4.7 billion bytes per side, was published in October 1999. The first drives appeared in June 2000 at about the same price as DVD-RAM 1.0 drives.

DVD-RAM 2.0 also specifies 8-cm discs and cartridges for portable uses such as digital camcorders. Future DVD-RAM discs may use a contrast enhancement layer and a thermal buffer layer to achieve higher density. Samsung and C-Cube made a technology demonstration (not a product announcement) in October 1999 of a DVD-RAM video recorder using the new DVD-VR format (see DVD-RW section above for more about DVD-VR).

Panasonic demonstrated a DVD-RAM video recorder at CES in January 2000. It appeared in the U.S. in September (model DMR-E10). At the beginning of 2001, Hitachi and Panasonic released DVD camcorders that use small DVD-RAM discs. The instant access and on-the-fly editing and deleting capabilities of the DVD camcorders are impressive. Panasonic’s 2nd-generation DVD-RAM video recorder appearing in October 2001 also writes to DVD-R discs

What is the DVD+RW and the DVD+R?

DVD+RW is an erasable format based on CD-RW technology. It became available in late 2001. DVD+RW is supported by Philips, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Ricoh, Yamaha, and others. It is not supported by the DVD Forum, but the Forum has no power to set standards.

DVD+RW drives read DVD-ROMs and CDs, and usually read DVD-Rs and DVD-RWs, but do not read or write DVD-RAM discs. DVD+RW drives also write CD-Rs and CD-RWs. DVD+RW discs, which hold 4.7 billion bytes per side, are readable in many existing DVD-Video players and DVD-ROM drives. (They run into the same reflectivity and disc format recognition problems as DVD-RW.)

DVD+RW backers claimed in 1997 that the format would be used only for computer data, not home video, but this was apparently a smokescreen intended to placate the DVD Forum and competitors. The original 1.0 format, which held 3 billion bytes (2.8 gigabytes) per side and was not compatible with any existing players and drives, was abandoned in late 1999.

The DVD+RW format uses phase-change media with a high-frequency wobbled groove that allows it to eliminate linking sectors. This, plus the option of no defect management, allows DVD+RW discs to be written in a way that is compatible with many existing DVD readers.

The DVD+RW specification allows for either CLV format for sequential video access (read at CAV speeds by the drive) or CAV format for random access, but CAV mode is not supported by any current hardware. DVD+R discs can only be recorded in CLV mode. Only CLV-formatted discs can be read in standard DVD drives and players.

DVD+RW media can be rewritten about 1,000 times (down from 100,000 times in the original 1.0 version). DVD+R is a write-once variation of DVD+RW, which appeared in mid 2002. It’s a dye-based medium, like DVD-R, so it has similar compatibility as DVD-R. Original DVD+RW drives did not fulfill the promise of a simple upgrade to add DVD+R writing support, so they have to be replaced with newer models.

The original Philips DVD+RW players, on the other hand, can be customer-upgraded to write +R discs. Philips announced a DVD+RW home video recorder for late 2001. The Philips recorder uses the DVD-Video format, so discs will play in many existing players. HP announced a DVD+RW drive and DVD+RW discs to be available in September 2001.

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HP’s drive reads DVDs at 8x and CDs at 32x, and writes to DVD+RW at 2.4x, CD-R at 12x, and CD-RW at 10x. Sony announced a DVD+RW/CD-RW drive in October 2001. DVD+RW media is being produced by Hewlett-Packard, MCC/Verbatim, CMC, Optodisc, Philips, Ricoh, Ritek, and Sony.

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DVD Types | DVD-RAM vs DVD-RW vs DVD-R vs DVD+R vs DVD+RW? ›

A DVD+R can record data only once and then the data becomes permanent on the disc. The disc can not be recorded onto a second time. DVD+RW is a re-recordable format similar to CD-RW. The data on a DVD+RW disc can be erased and recorded over numerous times without damaging the medium.

What is the difference between CD ROM DVD-ROM and CD-RW DVD-RW? ›

A CD-RW can be written to but a CD ROM can only be read from. A CD-ROM holds more informatiion than a CD-RW. No worries! We've got your back.

What is the difference between DVD-RW and DVD +/- RW? ›

From a technical perspective, the DVD-RW format requires shorter time to burn the lead in/out, and therefore has slightly more compatibility with DVD players. On the other hand, the DVD+RW format has some special features, such as lossless linking, and both CAV and CLV writing.

Is DVD-RAM and DVD-R the same? ›

DVD-R: Much faster than DVD-RAM. It works like “a big CD-R”. Can hold 4.7 gigabyte of information. This is the format if you want to burn DVD-movies.

What is an advantage of DVD-RAM in comparison with DVD-RW and DVD-RW? ›

DVD-RAM is much faster and easier than CD/DVD-RW at overwriting data. DVD-RAM discs can be rewritten over many many times (over 100,000). Data can be reliably stored on DVD-RAM for many years due to their high quality. DVD-RAM has a capacity of 4.7GB (or 9.4GB with with double sided discs).

Can I use a CD-R in a DVD-RW drive? ›

Some DVD players come with two lasers so that they can read CD-R. CD-RW discs have a different formulation, and may work even on players that can't handle CD-R media. Some DVD-ROM drives may be unable to read multisession discs. In general, though, DVD-ROM drives are able to read CD-R media.

Which is better CD-ROM or DVD-ROM? ›

A standard 120 mm, 700 MB CD-ROM can actually hold about 703 MB of data with error correction (or 847 MB total). In comparison, a single-layer DVD-ROM can hold 4.7 GB (4.7 × 109 bytes) of error-protected data, more than 6 CD-ROMs.

What is a DVD-RW drive used for? ›

DVD Re-Writable (DVD RW) discs are designed to store up to 4.7GB or 120 minutes of DVD-quality video. Unlike DVD-R's, you can add to or write over content on a DVD RW disc, making DVD Re-Writable discs ideal for backing up video and home movie collections.

How do I know if my DVD is RW? ›

There are 2 types of DVDs you can buy at the store, R and RW. It says DVD+R, so that just means it's only a 1 time writable DVD. You want one that says DVD+RW or DVD-RW (+ and - doesn't matter in this case). The RW logo doesn't actually mean it's a rewritable DVD, just like the DL doesn't mean it's a dual layer either.

What is a CD-RW DVD-RW used for? ›

CD-RW and DVD-RW discs are primarily used when you want to burn data or music and at a later time erase the CD or DVD and burn updated or new files to it. CD-RW discs can be erased and burned as many as a thousand times, DVD-RW perhaps a hundred.

What are the three types of DVDs? ›

There are 3 common types of DVDs: DVD-5, DVD-9, and DVD-10. A DVD-5 is a single layer DVD that holds up to 4.7GB of data (around 120-133 minutes of video depending on compression).

Which is better DVD-R or DVD-R? ›

DVD+R is less susceptible to interference. DVD-R does not have feature of formatting and recording data at the same time.

What does +R mean on a DVD? ›

2. DVD+R : It is pronounced as DVD Plus R. It was released in year 2002. Like DVD-R, it is also a recordable DVD format, but it does not carry the DVD logo.

Why is it better to use DVD-RAM? ›

The format has larger storage capacity than DVDs and allows for more precise video and audio recording without the audio and video tracks on the disc being jumbled. DVD-RAM discs are intended to supplement existing DVD discs by combining the advantages of both formats.

How long do DVD-RAM discs last? ›

The life span ranges from 30 to 100 years for DVD-R (mostly known for commercial DVDs) and DVD+R, but up to 30 years for DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM assuming the discs are stored properly, according to the Optical Storage Technology Association.

What is the shelf life of DVD-RAM? ›

Long life — without physical damage, data is retained for an estimated 30 years. For this reason, it is used for archival storage of data. Can be rewritten over 100,000 times for the lowest write speed discs (DVD±RW can be rewritten approx. 1,000 times).

What is the difference between CD-ROM drive and CD-ROM? ›

A CD-ROM, which stands for Compact Disc Read-Only Memory, is an optical disc that contains music or software data and has read-only memory. A CD-ROM drive, often known as an optical drive, is the device used to read them. A CD-ROM is a data-containing optical compact disc that has been pre-pressed.

Is CD-ROM and DVD-ROM same? ›

Compared to a CD-ROM, a DVD-ROM has the same 5 inch diameter and 1.2 millimeter (mm) thickness. But because a DVD-ROM uses a shorter wavelength laser with tighter compacted pits, the disc capacity is increased. In fact, the smallest DVD-ROM can store approximately 7 times more data than a CD-ROM.

What is the difference between DVD-R and DVD-ROM? ›

DVD-ROM is one of the various types of DVD. Blank DVDs are usually DVD-R or DVD+R, with a readable and writable format. + R or -R refers to the format standard and is a rewritable or recordable DVD. It is a read-only digital versatile disc (DVD) usually used to store large software applications.

Is CD-ROM and DVD drive the same? ›

Digital Versatile disc-Read Only Memory drives are the direct evolution from CD-ROM drives. DVDs had greater capacity and performance. DVD-ROM drives can read CD-DA, CD-ROM, and CD-R/RW discs, but they also read DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, and (sometimes) DVD-Audio discs.


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