Can I Play My Recorded DVDs in Other DVD Players?

Recordable DVD Formats and Playback Compatibility

Recordable DVD - Blank Disc Examples
Recordable DVD - Blank Disc Examples. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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

This article outlines the various DVD recording formats available to the consumer, and how each format relates to playback compatibility on other DVD players.

Also, for a detailed look at what makes commercial movie DVDs you buy at your local retail outlet is different from the DVD recording formats discussed below, also be sure to check out my Quick Tip: What Makes Home Recorded DVDs Different Than Commercial DVDs.

Recordable DVD Formats

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

DVD-R:

DVD-R stands for DVD recordable. DVD-R s the most universal of recordable DVD formats that is used by computer DVD writers as well as most DVD recorders. However, DVD-R is a write-once format, much like CD-R and discs made in this format can be played in most current DVD players. DVD-R discs need to be finalized at the conclusion of the recording process (like a CDR) before they can be played in another DVD player.

DVD-R DL

DVD-R DL is 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 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 both recordable and rewritable (like CD-RW), and is 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. In addition, the DVD-RW format also has the ability to 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 what is referred to as 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 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, as the discs do not need to be finalized at the conclusion of the recording process in order to play in another DVD player. This is due to the finalization process being performed during the actual recording process itself.

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 is easier to use than DVD-R, while still playable in most current DVD players.

However, DVD+R discs do need to be finalized 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 normally have the ability to 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, however, 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". This is great if a phone call interrupts your viewing or if you come home late from work and miss the beginning that important 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 the recording made is not compatible with playback on most standard DVD players.

Recordable DVD Format Disclaimer

It is important to note that not all of the recordable DVD formats are available on all DVD recorders. If you are looking for specific recordable DVD format compatible - 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)

Back To DVD Recorder FAQ Intro Page

Also, for answers to questions regarding topics related to DVD players, be sure to also check out my DVD Basics FAQ