My first DVD burner was a 4x, and my second was an 8x. Now I use an NEC ND-3500A 16x burner. However, I have discovered that for the purposes of backing-up DVD movies, I get much better results by burning at 4x speed. For me, the most important issue is whether or not my back-up will play in stand-alone DVD players without problems. I have several set-top models, old and new, and I have discovered that when I back-up DVD movies at 4x speed, I never have any issues with playback, whether I use -R or +R. But the higher the speed of the burn, the more likely I have encountered problems with playback in some stand-alone players (and not just the older ones!)
Most hardware review sources seem to focus on write speed as the only issue when comparing different burners and making recommendations. I would like to see more coverage of read and write speeds in the context of playback quality and compatibility with various set-top players, and not just raw speed. Who cares if my back-ups only take 5 minutes if I cannot count on them to reliably play back in my stand-alone players? For me, it is worth it to take the extra time to burn at 4x when it comes to movies.
Now, as far as I can tell from my own experiments, writing at 16x speed is not really a problem for data DVDs meant to be read on a PC. I have backed-up my HDDs on DVDs at 16x and have not had any problems restoring those back-ups.
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I'm in agreement with Albert, in that accuracy is paramount. I have an IO Magic 16X dual layer dual media drive and use Nero 126.96.36.199. running under Windowz XP If I burn at 8x, with verification enabled, I find 30% of the time I have verification errors.
These errors don't seem to have a negative affect when playing it back, but backing up my HD is another matter. Small errors create very bad backups.
I'd like to see more testing of this aspect of DVD writing, long with the results of other (lower priced) writers.
This is due to two things:
When you burn video, there is no CRC. Meaning a DVD-video's data may be screwed, but it's almost always such a slight change you'll never notice. For that reason, no one seems to care.
I recommend only burning at half of the maximum speed your burner supports, and half the maximum speed the disc supports, whichever is lower.
For errors on DATA discs, this is generally a problem with the media you're using. Using a slower speed may solve the issue.
You can always say that lower speeds are "safer" than going for full-speed 16x. However, I would rather get my finished DVD in 10-15 minutes, rather than an hour and a half. (I'm comparing my old computer to my new computer.) I really think that's worth the dollar I paid for the DVD. I feel that the chances of getting a coaster is just as good at 2x as it is at 16x. If you don't want a coaster, you should burn the DVD from data on your hard drive shortly after you put it there. Sometimes new data placed on a hard drive corrupts older data, even if just by a small amount.
With all the above in mind, you also have to realize that an older system won't be as fast and will make it harder for the DVD burner to perform at faster speeds and it doesn't matter how good the burner is. In this light, I would suggest for you to use a speed that your system can handle. I think this is really where the difference of opinion in speed recommendations truly stems from. If 4x or 8x gives you better results, then I would say that your system can't handle the faster speed. If you find that to be the case, then you should always use that speed instead. Just don't fall into that rut and think that all new computers will have to follow suit. (I can picture you burning a DVD at 8x with a computer you buy in 3 years due strictly to your findings with this computer.) You should adjust each computer according to its performance.
I've been keeping my eyes open lately, thinking about finally getting a DVD burner, now that they are up to 16X a speed I can deal with regardless of the eventual most likely sooner than later models with higher speeds. Then today I saw an add for a Plextor 12X SATA DVD Burner. What's up with the SATA interface? That's the first I've seen of that. And if the speed of the writer is 12X how is a faster data transfer interface going to make it any faster. Sales Gimmick?
Seeing as how the 12x means 12 times the speed that everyone of these is based on, then yea, a sales gimmick. Even if the data gets to it faster, that just means that it will have a more efficient buffer. lol Other than that, the speed won't really increase.
On the DVD Flick software, it says slow burn speeds can also cause skips and errors. Is that actually true? Because it doesn't seem to make sense as a true thing. And also I am pretty sire that is what most people are talking about there - there isn't a very high chance of getting a "coaster" no matter what speed you use. Then again if you're not using RW, a single error can be a "coaster" when you're recording, since all you need to do is record again assuming the file isn't corrupted.
Now from what I remember some people use to burn CD's or DVD's in slower speeds since it
was suppose to provide better results, I doubt It was in image quality anyways. But from experience I found that the only thing that matters is the quality of the storage media you're burning to.
Everything I write is Sarcasm.