How to Buy a Rewritable DVD Drive

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Rewritable DVD Drive Shopping Tips

Are you ready to buy a rewritable DVD drive? Here are PC World's recommendations for buying a drive that will best suit the needs of the average user.

Decide if speed is important to you. At this writing, speed is not much of an issue, since the two write-once/single-layer DVD formats are identical. Keep an eye on double/dual-layer write speeds, though--many drives on the market don't support the fastest speeds possible.

Consider compatibility. Both DVD-R and DVD+R are highly compatible with current DVD players and DVD-ROM drives. Some older players might have better luck with DVD-R than DVD+R, simply because DVD-R has been around longer. If the drive burns DVD-RAM, remember that the format can be useful but is poorly suited for discs you plan to share with friends and family.

For desktop PCs, get an internal drive with a SATA interface. If your PC supports Serial ATA (SATA), you'll do better by having SATA's thinner, less cumbersome wires inside your system.

For external drives, or desktop PCs with few internal connections, consider the interface. With external drives, you'll see about the same speed from a FireWire drive as you would from a USB 2.0 drive. Costs for drives of each interface type are similar, and for a few more dollars, you can often buy a drive that has the flexibility of both interfaces.

Make sure the bundled recording software fits your needs. With drives sold at retail, all manufacturers include software; the bundle typically covers DVD and CD mastering (including audio CDs), DVD video authoring, and the ability to drag and drop data. Some vendors add software for backup tasks and video editing.

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