What Type of DVDs Should I Buy?

Stacks of CD's and DVD's
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It’s easy to be confused about what type of DVDs you should buy. You’ll find a big selection when you go to buy DVDs and not much explanation about what each type is for. This checklist will help you buy DVDs that will best serve your needs.

DVD Disk Type

Confused by the jumble of letters and symbols (–R/-RW/+R/+RW) that come after the letters DVD? You’re not alone.

All of these disk types are not interchangeable, and the type you buy will depend on your DVD burner and your DVD player.

Many DVD burners will only burn to either “-R” or “+R” disks, but not the other type.

Likewise, many DVD players will only play “-R” or “+R” disks. To be sure you buy the correct type check the DVD burner and DVD player manuals before making your disk purchase.

The “-RW” and “+RW” disks are rewritable, which is handy as they can be used over and over again. However, rewriteable disks are generally the least compatible with DVD players. You’re better off using these to save data, and burning your movies to one-time use disks.

DVD Burn Speed

You may have a new DVD burner that can burn disks at 32x or higher, but the maximum speeds will only work if you buy DVDs that are capable of being burned at high speeds.

All DVDs should list their maximum burn speeds on the label, so it’s easy to find the speed that you need. Beware, though, that higher speeds cause more unreliable burns. So even if you can burn at 32x you may have better luck burning at a slower speed.

DVD Labeling

The least expensive DVDs are those with the shiny silver or gold face. You can write on these with a Sharpie or a DVD marker, but you shouldn’t use the stick-on labels.

If you want a nice, professional looking label on the face of your DVD, you’ll need to use an inkjet printer or LightScribe disk labeler and buy the appropriate DVDs.

DVD Brand

Sure, we all love a deal, but don’t cheap out when it comes to buying DVDs. You’ll probably just end up paying more later on to replace all of the faulty DVDs that don’t burn correctly.