Can I Play My Recorded DVDs in Other DVD Players?

Recordable DVD formats and playback compatibility

There is no 100% guarantee that any DVD you make with your DVD recorder or PC DVD writer will play in all DVD players. Whether or not you can play a DVD you have made using your DVD recorder or your PC on most current DVD players (manufactured since the years 1999-2000) will depend mostly on the format used in recording the DVD.

Recordable DVD Formats

Without getting bogged down in each recordable DVD format's detailed technical aspects, the relevance of each format to the average consumer goes like this:

Recordable DVD blank disc examples

DVD-R

DVD-R stands for DVD recordable. DVD-R is the most universal of recordable DVD formats used by computer DVD writers and most DVD recorders. However, DVD-R is a write-once format, much like CD-R, and discs made in this format can play in most current DVD players. DVD-R discs need finalization after the recording process (like a CD-R) before playing in another DVD player.

DVD-R DL

DVD-R DL is a record-once format that is identical to DVD-R, except that it has two layers on the same side of the DVD (that is what the DL means). This allows twice the recording time capacity on a single side. This format is being incorporated slowly on some newer DVD recorders. Although the actual recording format is the same as DVD-R, the physical difference between a standard DVD-R disc and a DVD-R DL disc may result in less playback compatibility on some DVD players that normally have the ability to play standard single-layer DVD-R discs.

DVD-RW

DVD-RW stands for DVD rewritable. This format is recordable and rewritable (like a CD-RW), and was initially promoted by Pioneer, Sharp, and Sony. DVD-RW discs are playable in most DVD players, provided it is recorded in the straight Video Mode and finalized. The DVD-RW format also can perform Chase Play, which is similar to Time Slip used in the DVD-RAM format (refer to the explanation for the DVD-RAM format later in this article). However, this function is available only in VR mode. DVD-RW recordings made in VR mode may not be as compatible with other DVD players.

DVD+RW

DVD+RW is a recordable and rewritable format that was initially promoted primarily by Philips, with a host of partners, including Yamaha, HP, Ricoh, Thomson (RCA), Mitsubishi, APEX, and Sony. DVD+RW offers a greater degree of compatibility with current DVD technology than DVD-RW. The DVD+RW format is also the easiest to use, in terms of basic recording. The discs do not need finalization after the recording process to play in another DVD player as the process occurs during the recording process.

DVD+R

DVD+R is a record-once format introduced and backed by Philips and adopted by the other DVD+RW proponents, that is said to be easier to use than DVD-R, while still playable in most current DVD players. However, DVD+R discs do need finalization before they can play in another DVD player.

DVD+R DL

DVD+R DL is a record-once format that is identical to DVD+R, except that it has two layers on the same side of the DVD. This allows twice the recording time capacity on a single side. This format is available on some PCs with DVD writers, as well as some standalone DVD recorders. Although the actual recording format is the same as DVD+R, the physical difference between a standard DVD+R disc and a DVD+R DL disc may result in less playback compatibility on some DVD players that generally can play standard single-layer DVD+R discs.

DVD-RAM

DVD-RAM is a recordable and rewritable format promoted by Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung, and Hitachi. However, DVD-RAM is not playback compatible with most standard DVD players and is not compatible with most DVD-ROM computer drives.

However, one of the unique features of DVD-RAM is its ability (with its random access and quick writing speed) to allow the user to watch the beginning of a recording while the DVD recorder is still recording the end of the program. This is referred to as "Time-Slip," and it is useful if a phone call interrupts your viewing or if you come home late from work and miss the beginning of that critical TV episode or televised sporting event.

Another advantage of DVD-RAM is its extensive capability for on-disc editing. With its quick access speed, you can rearrange the playback order of scenes and delete other scenes from playback, without erasing the original video. However, it must be re-noted that this recording mode is not compatible with playback on most standard DVD players.

Not all of the recordable DVD formats discussed above are available on all DVD recorders. If you are looking for specific recordable DVD format compatibility, check the features and specs of the DVD recorder you may be considering for purchase. One source that can aid in this search is the DVD Player Compatibility List For Recordable DVDs (VideoHelp)