Whenever you go out to buy writeable DVDs, you always have the choice of +R or -R. Is it marketing hype or are they really different in the way they work?

The answer is yes, they are different.

Pioneer developed DVD-R and is based on CD-R. However it is important to note that DVD-R is not an industry standard like CD-R is (labeled "Red Book" and "Orange Book" standard).

DVD+R also stems from CD-R. But this is not industry standard either. This is why the + and – formats compete with each other and you see them side by side on store shelves wherever you buy discs.

DVD-R is the older format.

Basically put, DVD-R  is the legacy format and you don’t really need to use it.


Is there any reason to use DVD-R at all?

There are only three instances I can think of where DVD-R is required:

  • The on-the-shelf price is sometimes cheaper than the +R’s. So if you’re trying to save a buck, the -R format may be a little less in price.
  • You have an older (or cheap) DVD player that will not read +R burned movie discs but will read -R discs.
  • You’re making a home movie for a friend and need to be sure the disc you give will actually play on their console player. DVD-R is the legacy format and even the cheapest 30-dollar Maganavox DVD player at Wal-Mart will play DVD-R burned movie discs.

For everything else, use DVD+R.

And if you wanted a plain English description of the technical differences:

  • A single-layer (what the vast majority of us use) DVD-R holds more data than a DVD+R does. The -R will hold 4,707,319,808 bytes while the +R holds 4,700,372,992 bytes.
  • A dual-layer DVD-R holds less data than a DVD+R does. The -R holds 8,543,666,176 bytes, the +R holds  8,547,991,552 bytes.
  • The data rate for both formats is the same, however DVD-R does have a higher top available speed. The fastest DVD+R is 16x. The fastest DVD-R is 20x. However if you were to pit +R vs. -R at 16x for each, the data rate is the same (21.12 MB/s).
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