Optical Drive

Published Date
01 - Dec - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2006
Optical Drive
Today, when we say "optical drive", the CD-Writer or DVD-Writer comes to mind rather than a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. Production costs have decreased, and so have the prices of these devices. Practically every PC today ships with a CD or DVD-Writer-it's mandatory! But if you purchased a PC at a time when this was not the case, you'll definitely feel the need to buy one to channel the baggage of data that is about to overflow from your hard drive.

Questions To Ask
What kind of drive should I buy?
CD-ROMs have lost their value and are no longer considered a viable solution. The case is somewhat similar with DVD-ROMs, because Combo drives and DVD-Writers can easily substitute them and at prices that aren't much higher. Typically, if you have oodles of data and are dying to get it off your hard drive, a DVD-Writer is what you need to buy. If you only need to take occasional backups, a CD-Writer will suffice. If you also want to be able to view DVD video and use your Digit DVD collection, a Combo drive should be your choice. Finally, if data backup is not necessary at all, opt for a DVD-ROM.

If you think of the options from the cost point of view, a DVD-ROM costs the lowest; add Rs 400 and you get a Combo drive; add another Rs 1000 more and you get a DVD-Writer. The cost difference is not much, so we'd recommend a DVD-Writer any day-unless you want to save every last penny!

Should I buy an external drive or an internal drive?
A regular home user should buy an internal drive. External drives have the same specifications as their internal counterparts, except they're almost twice as expensive. External drives can be useful for people like system administrators and hardware maintenance engineers who carry such drives to computers to install software or OSes.

Internal drives generally come with the IDE interface, though drives with the SATA interface have also started to arrive. On the other hand, external drives have either the USB or FireWire interface; some even have both. Before you buy an external drive, make sure your computer has a USB or a FireWire port (as the case may be).

What about online support?
Very important as far as an optical drive is concerned. A firmware upgrade can be a life-saver in many cases when a drive fails or when it has difficulty in writing to newer media. Check the manufacturer's Web site before buying a drive to see which manufacturer is more prompt in releasing firmware updates.

An Aside: Dual Drives
Having two drives can help you save time. Make one of your drives a write drive, and read from the other. For example, you can use a DVD-ROM to install software and a DVD-RW to burn data to CD or DVD. Select two write drives-a Combo drive and a DVD-RW drive, for instance-and you can use this setup to duplicate a DVD, by using the Combo drive to read and the DVD-RW to write! A two-writer setup can also be used for duplication, and also for writing two CDs or DVDs, saving you a lot of time.

What To Look For
Format Support
A DVD-Writer should be able to write to the DVD-R, DVD R, DVD-RW and DVD RW formats: this is an absolute must. It should be able to read from DVD-ROM, DVD-R DL and DVD R DL in addition to the above formats. It goes without saying that all DVD-Writers can also burn CD-R and CD-RW.

What About Dual-layer?
Dual-layer DVDs have a capacity of 8.5 GB. You can use these to make backup copies of DVD movies that you own, because most original titles come on dual-layer DVDs. Many new games also come on dual-layer DVDs. Dual-layer DVD media is still very expensive and hard to obtain. But because a DVD-Writer capable of burning to dual-layer media costs just about as much as one that can't. it makes perfect sense to buy such a drive.

With the arrival of newer optical storage technologies such as Blu-ray and HD-DVD, the prices of dual-layer media are bound to come down to affordable levels.

A recent technology that lets you burn a label onto the labelling face of a disc. It has been around in India for more than a year and a half, but is yet to make a mark. This is partly because of the high cost of the media and also of the drives.

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