What Blank DVD Discs Do You Use in a DVD Recorder?

Make sure you get the right discs for your DVD recorder or PC-DVD writer

To record video (and audio) onto DVD, you need to make sure you use blank discs compatible with your DVD recorder or PC-DVD writer.

Recordable DVD - Blank Disc Examples

Buying Blank Discs

Before you can record a TV program or transfer camcorder tapes to DVD, you need to purchase a blank disc. Blank DVDs can be found in most consumer electronics and computer stores, and can also be purchased online. You can buy one disc, a few discs, a box or spindle of 10, 20, 30, or more. Some come with paper sleeves or jewel box cases, but those packaged in spindles require separate sleeves or jewel boxes.

Since prices vary according to brand or package quantity, no costs will be quoted here.

Recordable Disc Compatibility

As stated above, you need to get the correct format discs compatible with your recorder, which will also be playable (after recording) on your DVD recorder and DVD player(s).

If your DVD recorder records in the DVD+R/+RW format, make sure you buy discs that have that label on the packaging. You can't use a +R disc in a -R recorder or vice versa.

However, many DVD recorders record in both the - and + formats, allowing more blank disc purchasing options.

If you aren't sure what format discs your DVD recorder uses, take your user manual to the store with you and get assistance from a salesperson to help you find the right format discs.

Make sure you purchase blank DVDs designated for Video Use Only or both Video and Data Use. Don't buy blank DVDs labeled for Data Use Only. These are for PC use only.

In addition to disc format type, the brand of blank DVDs can also affect playback compatibility on some DVD players.

Even if you use the correct DVD format disc, not all recordable disc formats are compatible for playback on all DVD players.

  • DVD-R discs are the most compatible, followed by DVD+R discs. However, these discs can only record once. They can't be erased and used over again.
  • DVD-RW/+RW discs are re-writable, which can be erased and used again but aren't always compatible with a specific DVD player.
  • The least compatible disc format is DVD-RAM (which is also erasable/rewriteable). It's no longer widely used in DVD recording.

Use the Best Record Mode

In addition to disc format compatibility, the record mode you chose (2 hr, 4hr, 6hr, etc.) affects the recorded signal (similar to quality issues when using various VHS recording speeds).

As the quality gets lower, the instability of the video signal read off the disc, in addition to looking bad (resulting in macro-blocking and pixelation artifacts), may result in unwanted freezing or skipping.

What It All Means for You

When considering which blank DVDs to purchase and use, stick with major brands.

If you have questions about a particular brand of blank DVD, consult the user guide or contact tech support for your DVD recorder for acceptable blank DVD brands.

Before starting an extensive VHS-to-DVD transfer project, make a few test recordings to check the results. This helps determine if the discs (and record modes) will work on your DVD recorder and other DVD players you may have.

If you're planning to record a DVD to send to someone, make a test disc, send it to them, and see if it will play on their DVD player. This is especially important if you plan on sending a DVD to someone overseas as US DVD recorders make discs in the NTSC system. Most of the rest of the world (Europe, Australia, and most of Asia) is on the PAL system for DVD recording and playback.

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