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What About DVD?

Undoubtedly, you've heard or read a lot of the recent press that DVD has been receiving and may be wondering whether you want to upgrade to a DVD drive instead of a CD-RW drive. If you do, consider the following:

  • DVD drives (at least the second-generation DVD-2 drives) are compatible with commercial CD-ROM discs and CD-R (CD-Recordable) and CD-RW (CD-Writable) discs. The first generation of DVD drives did not read CD-R and CD-W discs. Make sure that you read the fine print and get a second-generation DVD-2 drive or upgrade kit.

  • DVD drives are going through many of the same growing pains that early CD-ROM drives went through—namely, speed and cost. DVD drives read CD-ROM discs at 12x speeds.

  • Upgrade kits for DVD drives can be a bit confusing and problematic for some users to install, especially because the upgrade kits include a “decoder” interface card that must be compatible with your existing video card. It is also possible to encounter IRQ conflicts when installing this new card in your PC.

  • DVD upgrade kits are currently running in the neighborhood of $200 to $300. But just like the initial price of CD-ROM drives, DVD prices are expected to drop as they become more plentiful.

  • Recordable DVD drives currently are available in three competing and incompatible formats, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD+R, and DVD-RW. It is definitely worth waiting until this market has a shakeout and one format quashes the other (remember the competing Beta and VHS video formats?). Popular opinion is that DVD-R and DVD+R both will produce DVDs playable on the standard that eventually becomes set so either is probably safe to buy.


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