The 10 Best DVD Drives
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10 Best DVD Drive Alternatives
DVD Drive Buying Guide
DVD Drive Buying Guide
As removable flash storage devices have become larger and cheaper -- and more people have begun to download games, music and movies online -- most computer owners have begun to find optical drives redundant. It has become particularly common for companies to sell notebook computers without DVD drives because omitting on optical drive makes it possible to design a thinner and lighter computer.
Although few computers include them today, DVD drives still have plenty of uses. You might have an existing collection of movies or computer software that you'd like to continue enjoying. Recordable DVDs also give you an affordable way to back up your most important data or create free space on your computer's hard drive.
Even if you only need to use it occasionally, a DVD drive is one of the least expensive upgrades that you can buy for your computer. In this guide, we'll provide some pointers that can help you pick the right one.
Benefits of Internal Drives
Internal or External?
If you have a desktop computer, your computer most likely has several upgrade bays in the front. You can use one of those bays for installing an internal DVD drive that will become a semi-permanent part of your computer. Internal DVD drives typically reach higher top speeds than external drives. They're also slightly more reliable. If an external DVD drive falls off of the desk while recording a disc -- or its cable is removed -- the disc will be ruined. The chance of an internal DVD drive suffering physical damage during recording is extremely slim. Since internal drives do not require plastic enclosures for beautification, they typically cost less than external drives.
Benefits of External DrivesIf you have a notebook, your computer probably doesn't have an upgrade bay for optical drives. In that case, buying an external DVD drive is the only logical choice. Even if you have a desktop computer, an external drive may be the right choice for you because external drives are easy to move from one computer to another as needed. If you have little technical knowledge or are simply nervous about disassembling your computer, an external drive is perfect because you can install it by simply connecting it to one of your computer's peripheral ports. Any reasonably modern computer will recognize the drive, and you can begin using it right away.
DVD drives have two primarily capabilities: They can read discs, and they can burn them. The term "burn" refers to writing data on a disc. A DVD burner can read and write data, but a DVD writer can only read discs. Today, companies produce DVD burners so inexpensively that you can find them for sale at retail prices under $15. Since DVD burners are so inexpensive, there's little reason to produce DVD drives that can only read discs. Nearly every DVD drive on the market is a DVD burner. If you consider purchasing a used drive, though, you should confirm its capabilities before buying it.
Reader or Burner?
There are many different standards for CD and DVD discs. Most DVD drives support all of the different standards, but it's wise to confirm support before buying a DVD drive if you need to read or burn a specific type of disc. Some of the most common types of discs include:
- CD: CD that supports reading only.
- CD-R: Recordable CD.
- CD-RW: Recordable CD that you can burn and erase more than once.
- DVD: DVD that supports reading only.
- DVD-R and DVD+R: Recordable DVD.
- DVD-RW and DVD+RW: Recordable DVD that you can burn and erase more than once.
- DVD-R DL and DVD+R DL: Dual-layer recordable DVD that holds twice as much data as a single-layer DVD.
- DVD-RW DL and DVD+RW DL: Dual-layer recordable DVD that you can burn and erase more than once.
- M-DISC: Archival recordable disc theoretically capable of storing data safely for hundreds of years.
NOTE: DVD-R and DVD+R are competing standards for recordable DVDs. Pioneer created the "-R" format. Sony and Philips jointly developed the "+R" format. Most DVD drives and read and write both types of discs.
When you shop for a DVD drive, you'll see ratings that express the drive's speed when reading and writing CDs and DVDs. The ratings express the speeds as multiples, such as "52X." When reading or writing CDs, the "1X" speed is approximately 1.22 Mbits/sec. When reading or writing DVDs, the "1X" speed is about 11 Mbits/sec. You can generally expect a DVD drive's read speeds to be faster than its write speeds. In order to write a disc at a given speed, the disc and drive must both support that speed. If a disc doesn't support a write speed, errors may result.
When you burn discs on your computer, you'll likely want to do other things at the same time. You might want to listen to music or browse the web, for example. Occasionally, your activities may interrupt the data that streams from the computer's hard drive to the DVD drive. The buffer in a DVD drive is a memory chip that allows the drive to continue writing to the disc when the computer's hard drive is busy. Without a buffer, any interruption in the data stream would ruin the disc. The larger a DVD drive's buffer is, the more reliable the drive is when burning discs.
When you buy a DVD drive, you can choose to buy a retail boxed drive or a OEM drive. An OEM drive arrives in a plain box and typically costs less. A retail boxed drive may include several extras that can enhance your experience. An external drive may include a USB cable. An internal drive may include a data cable, a power cable and mounting screws. A retail boxed DVD drive may also include disc authoring software.
Whether you buy an internal or external DVD drive, you'll have a few different types of connections from which to choose. The most common connection for internal DVD drives is SATA, and the most common connection for external DVD drives is USB. If your computer is less than 10 years old, you can safely assume that it will support either standard. If you have an older desktop computer, you should look inside it before buying a DVD drive. If your computer's hard drive connects to the motherboard using a thin, flat ribbon cable, your computer may not support SATA DVD drives. You should look for an ATA DVD drive instead.
More Research on DVD Drives
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These DVD drives are so weird. They open, the close, they make strange noise... Is it magic? These cats are so confused by them! Scheming Weasel (slower ...