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The best recordable DVD format
on 26 May 2008
With so many recordable DVD formats around these days it can be difficult not only to find one that works for you but also one that you can have total faith in. DVD-RW and DVD+RW are arguably the most common formats, with DVD-RAM often being overlooked by hardware manufacturers, possibly as it was originally developed for backing up computer data rather than as a storage medium for recorded TV. This is a shame, because RAM has a number of significant advantages over both -RW and +RW that should by now have put it firmly in the lead as the preferred recordable DVD medium.
The first advantage it has is that, according to manufacturers, a DVD-RAM disk can be recorded over up to 100,000 times as opposed to the 1,000 times of its opponents. I've yet to see any firm evidence to back up this claim, and in reality most of us would never need such a capability, but the increased reliability of RAM over its rivals is fairly well documented. Another advantage it has is that RAM recorders verify the data as its written, so you can begin watching a program you're recording half way through recording it - you can start recording a film, go off and make a cup of tea, then come back and begin watching from the start as the recording continues.
The main advantage, however, has to be that information on a RAM disk is stored and read in the same way as that on a computer hard drive. If you record 4 half-hour programs onto a -RW disk, then delete the second and fourth ones, you're left with 2 half-hour slots free rather than 1 full hour one. On a RAM disk, units of information can be spread over the entire disk, exactly the same way as it can on a hard drive, so the two half-hour slots would be seen as a full hour. This also makes editing recorded TV much easier, giving you the ability to assign chapters and to delete easily any unwanted sections without affecting the rest of the recording.
I have used Panasonic DVD-RAM disks in my Panasonic DVD recorder and as a way of regularly backing up the data on my Vaio (and before that my Toshiba) PC for a total of around 5 years. In that time, I haven't had a single loss of information and the quality of the TV recordings hasn't deteriorated in the slightest despite the considerable use each disk has had. I have complete faith in the format not only as a way of storing my valuable data but also as a way of keeping copies of my favourite TV shows. Quite simply, I wouldn't even consider buying either a new PC or a new DVD recorder if it didn't have the ability to use DVD-RAM.