Although I’d expect the majority of my readers to know exactly what an DVD disc is, it seems that far too many people have not taken the plunge to purchase a DVD player for their computer even though you can pick up a drive for around £40 or so. DVD technology has been around in Europe now for around 4 years and although most people have used one in order to watch a movie, many may not yet be buying and using DVD data discs for their PCs.

Back when the CD ROM was first pioneered it was heralded as a breakthrough as it was able to reliably store vast amounts of data in comparison to the current standards of the times. Over time however, it soon became evident that the limited 700Mg of data that a CD could hold would be insufficient for storing large programs or video files and so a number of companies started working on the DVD standard which can hold up to 8.5Gb worth of data on one disc which is around twelve times more than a conventional CD could. From a computer perspective, you can already start to see the advantages; instead of having to have five discs for a typical encyclopaedia you could just have one disc that would still have plenty of space to spare and the average PC user would be able to back up his entire hard disk on just a couple of discs. In addition, DVD discs are identical to CDs in terms of their size and weight and so it is possible to read CD discs in a DVD drive – The only difference between the two formats is that a DVD disc stores the data much more tightly together and it can also have multiple layers on which to store the information on the disc.

Although the technology was fairly slow taking off in the UK, DVD drives in machines are now pretty much standard so chances are if you buy a new computer that it will have a DVD drive included with it. This should eventually lead to all PC magazines displaying a DVD on the cover as opposed to the CD they all currently come with and when audio CD’s start being released on DVD, you will be able to watch the music videos as well as just being able to listen to the sound track. Videos released on DVD are of better quality to their VHS equivalents and also contain extra features or the ability to be able to change the language of the sound-track and new games that are released on the format will obviously not have to worry as much about the size of their finished product so they will be able to include more features.

On the downside, standard DVD drives for the home and for your PC don’t give you the ability to be able to write to a disc and so it is no use buying a DVD player for the home believing that your VCR will become completely obsolete. To be able to write to a disc you require a DVD recorder and these usually start around the £200 mark for a PC version or around £450 for a standalone unit that will plug straight in to your TV with cheap recordable DVD disks starting around the 50p mark.

I hope this has clarified what advantages having a DVD drive would have when you purchase a new computer or upgrade your current one so you are perhaps willing to pay very slightly more to have this technology. As soon as the majority of people have a DVD drive in their computer and it becomes inefficient to still produce products in CD format then this is when we will really see the advantages on the newer format, just as we did when the industry moved away from floppy discs and towards compact discs many years ago.

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