Despite the stagnation of write speeds for DVD-R and DVD+R at 16x, new DVD writers are regularly being marketed, since performance for other types of writing (RW and dual-layer) is still improving. But as is customary, manufacturers of writers have a lead on media manufacturers. For this article, we visited all the stores to see what types of media are actually available for sale, and once again the result was most enlightening. You can find 16x-compatible -R and +R discs, but in the other formats they simply aren't out there. For the two rewritable standards, -RW and +RW, 4x-compatible media is all we could find, whereas writers now operate at 8x for +RW and 6x for -RW. As for dual-layer writers, which now reach speeds of 8x, only 2.4x media are available. And we weren't even able to find anybody to sell us dual-layer DVD-Rs!
So while the quick arrival of dual-layer writers has helped keep both -R/RW and +R/RW stay in the race, the + standard still has a lead. The + standard's writing performance also proved to be better, as you'll see later in our test results. With this in mind, we tested the writers with media that are actually available for sale to make sure our tests reflect actual conditions on the street today.
Not all the writers we tested for this article have LightScribe technology. (LightScribe, in case you didn't know, lets you engrave a monochrome "label" directly onto the front of your disc.) Manufacturers now have two lines of writers - one with and one without LightScribe, while the other characteristics of the writers remain the same. Models with LightScribe are about 10 to 15% more expensive. For the moment, since our preceding article, the technology hasn't changed. Only the media have changed, now offering different colors. In addition to gold, you can now find blue, red, and green, for example.