Are Cheap DVD Burners Worth the Trouble?

Just Any DVD Burner Will Not Do

It has been over a year since we last took a look at DVD burners. One reason for the delay is that there were few developments on which to report ever since the write speeds hit 16X. Manufacturers then focused on value-added features such as built-in disc labeling called LightScribe. Another reason is the incredibly cheap price level: It is absolutely possible to purchase a DVD burner for as little as $25. But there still are differences in quality.

There are various reasons why you might want to purchase a DVD burner for your PC. On one hand, it can serve as a versatile and inexpensive storage device, as recordable DVDs store 4.7 GB on single-layer discs or 8.5 GB of data onto double-layer media (DL). This provides plenty of space for storing your family pictures, wedding videos or other data. On the other hand, DVDs are the most popular medium for digital movies and audio. Most DVD players and recent car audio solutions support audio and video playback of various popular formats, and a single-layer DVD can hold over eight hours of DivX or XviD video in standard definition or 750 MP3 songs in 192 kb/s quality.

Another invaluable advantage is how DVD readers and writers probably are the most widely used storage devices today. Every new PC or notebook carries an optical drive and can at least read DVDs and CDs, and more and more computers have DVD writing capabilities. Rewriteable media allows users to re-record data many times instead of creating single-use DVDs (called WORMs - Write Once, Read Multiple). While DVDs are not extremely durable, the discs will store your data safely for several years. For very important data, we recommend redundant storage - even if your discs are kept in a safe place.

There are so many different DVD recordables and DVD writers. We recommend opting for branded products, especially the recordables, as we've already seen physical degradation of so-called no-name recordables only a few years after they were written. Storing data on a DVD is an irreversible process that burns physical marks into the dye layer(s), which is why we recommend relying on brands that you know and trust. Rewriteables utilize a phase-change recording layer, which can be altered approximately 1,000 times.

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