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The DVD format war – Should you go plus or minus?

Posted 11 April 2003 17:40 CET by DoMiN8ToR

Two formats.

If you're in the market for a DVD recorder you will find out that currently one of the major issues is the 'DVD format war', as many people describe the competition between the DVD+R/DVD+RW (DVD+ or DVD plus) and the DVD-R/DVD-RW (DVD- or DVD minus) formats. Both are DVD recordable formats and developed to store data on a DVD recordable disc that can be played on a DVD(-ROM) player. DVD+/-R stands for DVD recordable and can only be recorded once, DVD+/-RW stands for DVD re-writeable, and this discs can be written and erased, making it possible to record them up to about a thousand times.  

Both DVD plus and DVD minus have their own supporters and both formats are claiming they have their own benefits. In this article we are going to try to distinct the differences between both formats and take a look at them from a consumers perspective. We aim to give you an advice on what kind of recorder you should buy at this moment, a dual format recorder that supports both DVD-R(W) and DVD+R(W) discs, or a recorder that supports only one of the formats (either DVD- or DVD+).

Before we wrote this article we met several important people from both DVD recordable formats at CEBIT 2003. From the DVD plus format we talked to Ms. Harpe from Philips, from the DVD minus format we talked to Mr. Yoshimura from Pioneer.

Why two formats?

While the CD recordable format was widely adopted by all companies in the industry, all companies could not agree on one single DVD recordable format. At the start of the war it was clear what companies supported DVD minus and what companies supported DVD plus. Unfortunately at the current moment this is less clear since many companies have chosen to support both formats. South Korean and Taiwanese companies, who have a large market share in the optical storage industry, have all told us that they will not pick one format, but follow the market. DVD plus is mainly backed by Philips, HP and Dell. DVD minus is mainly backed by Pioneer, Toshiba and Apple.

Is it really a war?

The struggle between both formats is often described as a war, we would prefer to call it more like a competition or a race. There is chance that over the years both formats will still be present in the market. Both DVD minus and DVD plus told us that there is not really a need for a winner. Many people refer to the BetaMAX versus VHS war that took place when the video recorder came into the living room. Both formats were incompatible with each other and without a winner a lot of consumers would be left in the cold. DVD plus and DVD minus are for a large share compatible with each other, and a real winner is not necessary. Also there are dual format recorders on the market, which are able to record to both the DVD plus and the DVD minus format. Although many people see them as a solution, as a consumer you will still need to decide which DVD recordable disc you need to buy.

On the next page we will continue to help you on picking the right format...


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