Software and general info on recordable optical discs
by levans - 12/17/04 1:33 PM
In Reply to: DVD software by woodysca
As far as recording software goes, I just use the basic package that came with the PC/Burner for data transfers. These seem to be adequate and I haven't even seen the need to update them to their "Full" versions from the bundled one. My Vaio came with EASY CD/DVD (I think).
For creating DVD for TV, I use Adobe Encore DVD, and/or Premiere Pro. Premiere Pro will write DVD and create a generic chapter menu based on markers in the video timeline. To get more flair-i.e. professional menu production, I use Encore DVD. It supports all the current industry standard formats and enables you to make a master image for duplication, encode copy protection (on duplicated disks) and set zone preferences. I understand that Apple's DVD authoring system offers similar functionality for Mac Only.
I had a copy of Sonic's DVDit LE that came bundled with one of my video capture systems. It was adequate for "home movie" level setups, and could be stretched to do some interesting effects if you knew what you were doing. Given the option of upgrading it to the full version or going with Encore in the Adobe Video Bundle, I decided to go with the bundle since it included other tools. The price, of course, was significantly higher, but then if you compare the single component they were about the same.
With regard to the multiple DVD formats, I do not know that -R and +R are necessarilly "competing". DVD-R was the first format made available to the consumer. DVD+R is a relatively new (about 1 year old) offering to the consumer market, and has the advantage of not requiring a full disk test run before burning (you can still do a burn test, but I've never had a problem NOT doing it, and it saves a lot of time on full length discs). -/+ RW are simply the rewritable versions of these two technologies. I did not ever use DVD-RW so I don't know what limits there were to it. However I use my DVD+RW disks the same way I did the CD-RW, as big removable hard disk.
Dual layer disks have also been around for some time, but they've not been available to the consumer until recently, and they presently are still at a higher price for blanks. I am not fully read up on the technology, but it essentially doubles the data space. You do have to have a burner that supports it and also software. As it is a new technology in the consumer market, I personally would be wary about using it for backing up critical data until a few months have gone by and the quality and reliability has been firmly established.
As to "new" formats on the horizon, well, there is always something under development, and there is always some contention as to which may become the "standard".
Beta is still used in commercial television production, because it is a technologically superior format to VHS. VHS, however, was cheaper to mass produce in the early days and that made the difference. Nowadays, since the majority of components are similar pieces of silicon, it is quite possible that the price and time to market considerations of previous formats will not have an impact on the acceptance of one format or other. In that case, there is likely to be an even more protracted and convoluted battle of international patent attorneys.
In any case, I believe it will be around 18 months before any "new" format reaches the general consumer market, and probably another 6-12 months before pricing becomes low enough for the majority of people to adopt a new format. This has generally been the case with R&D to market cycles, and it is unlikely that a new format will deviate from that significantly. By that time, any device purchased today will probably have reached "end of life" or at least have yielded the $50 to $150 paid for it.
The issue, of course, is whether or not existing formats will be read by new devices that become the "standard". This is probably likely at least for so long as it takes the market to get saturated. CD is still solidly the defacto standard for audio recording, even though the data format is transitioning from Red Book to MP3. Players coming out now are addressing the market requirement for both formats, and it is probable that new types of players (blu-ray/HD-DVD) will also play current DVD formats for around the next 5-10 years.
I would also point out that while HD-DVD is being devised to handle the higher resolution video data from HD formats in the same form factor as a DVD/CD, a massive data format, such as a 50 GB optical disc, is geared more toward data only than consumer video playback. The magneto-optical disc was storing 1.3 GB back in the mid 90s, when hard disks of 4 GBs were rare and expensive. Magneto optical platters are still used extensively in data storage arrays, but to date there has not been any "consumer electronics" like the DVD player to take advantage of them. It is possible that there will be no "showdown" of formats because the formats are aimed at two separate marketshares.
CD and DVD were originally designed for output to the consumer electronics market, and their use for data-only applications was a secondary benefit that quickly became the standard. The first 1X CD burners were in excess of $1000. DVD burner's debuted at $4-5000, around two years ago. Blanks for each started out at around $30. I just bought an off-brand dual layer -/+ burner for under $50, and I can get a stack of 100 inkjet-printable blanks for that price as well.
The ultralarge capacity optical storage device may, in fact, never happen. Consider that we now have USB "pen" drives at 1GB, with no moving parts, and requiring power only during operation. Flash memory cards are approaching these levels (I personally haven't seen one that big yet, but it may be out there). These are all much smaller than a DVD disc, thus the amount of "floor space cost" for storing, shipping, etc. is significantly reduced for both seller and buyer. Likewise, since they do not have to spin around the laser reader, power consumption costs are drastically reduced. The long term survivability of these formats is presently the issue, but if they can be stabilized with a lifetime of 50-75 years, then "disc" technology is gone.
At any rate, I just purchased a new player for home use that plays VHS, CD, DVD, CD-R/RW, DVD-/+R/RW, MP3, and reads all standard Flash memory cards. I paid $150 for it. Granted I still have to switch to the laptop to run DVD-ROM content on commercial DVDs, but since the unit also sports digital output, I won't have to buy another one when I upgrade to HD-TV. The only thing I couldn't get on the unit was multi-zone capability, so my daughter could watch the Harry Potter DVD her aunt sent from England. But I can buy a "disposable" DVD player for her PC for $30, set it to Zone 2, and rock on.