Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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I usually hate branding. Most of the time it seems to be all about sticking superfluous logos everywhere without any benefit to me. Most of the time a small, unobtrusive text would do just as well – if not better.

I bought a 25 pack of DVD-Rs a while back. And as I don’t burn that many DVDs, I’m only close to finishing the pack now. And I thought about getting a new one. Remembering the troubles I had with DVD-R (or DVD+Rs – smartasses!) before I thought I should just buy the same pack again because the wonderful high tech world of writable DVDs doesn’t even seem to be standardised enough to let any DVD-burner burn on any DVD.

Of course I couldn’t remember the name of the company making the DVDs, so I just looked at one the remaining ones. Strangely the company name isn’t found on them. So how the heck am I supposed to know which DVDs I want to buy?

Unbranded DVD

That’s my idealising question anyway. In reality I guess the ‘same’ DVD may not even be sold anymore half a year or a year later. And I’ve even heard people say that the actual DVD in the pack isn’t necessarily the same just because there’s the same label on it anyway. So – yeah – those no-logo people may have had a point ;)

October 27, 2006, 1:53


Comment by Chris: User icon

I’m not sure what label could it be. Fuji/Fujifilm maybe? I can recommend the Verbatim ones, really good quality for a fair price.

October 27, 2006, 16:37

Comment by jochen: User icon

Did you have a close look at the inner circle on the DVD? Often the brandname is is written there.

October 27, 2006, 20:57

Comment by sjk: User icon

You can check for the disc Media ID with the drutil command in 10.4:

   % drutil status | grep ID
          Media ID: TTG02

Thought I’d seen it under System Profiler but didn’t find it there this morning.

Then look it up the corresponding brand in a media database, e.g. Disc Media list [@videohelp.com]

As you probably know, buying a particular brand doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll consistently get the same disc media manufacturer, Taiyo Yuden (which has a good reputation) being one exception I’m aware of. Search for Verbatim in that VideoHelp.com database and you’ll see about a half-dozen different media codes. I’d generally be wary of ultra-cheap no-name brands (usually with shorter shelf life reputations) but even better known brands from the same manufacturer can have quality variance issues. And certain media can be finicky with certain burners; sometimes firmware upgrades address those. Sometimes burning at a lower speed (when you have that option, e.g. with Toast) can avoid trouble. There’s a varying mix of science and voodoo to drive/media matching.

I’m no expert but did quite a bit of research when I first started burning DVDs a few years ago. Using 4x burners I had near-perfect results with 4x RiDATA brand DVD-R/-RW purchased from Amazon.com. More recently I bought spindles of 8x/16x TDK brand DVD-Rs at Costco during 2-for-1 sales, which hasn’t been as reliable but still acceptable (~3 coasters per 50 discs) using 8x burners. I could look up specific media/burner details but that might not matter to you. Well, burner details are trivial, so…

1.25GHz eMac with upgraded region-free firmware:

   % drutil status | head -2
    Vendor   Product           Rev 
    PIONEER  DVD-RW  DVR-107D  1.21

It would only burn at 4x with Apple firmware.

2 GHz iMac G5 with Apple firmware:

   % drutil status | head -2
    Vendor   Product           Rev 
    MATSHITA DVD-R   UJ-845    DBN9

It detects some small-purchase 8x media I’ve got as 4x. It’s pickier with RiDATA DRD-RW than the Pioneer.

I may try some other media (e.g. Verbatim) when I run out of TDK although may not be for another year at my relatively moderate burn rate. But if Costco has another 2-for-1 sale on TDK before then I may buy more since it was only about $0.21/disc last time. That’s a hard deal to beat here in Hawaii even if the failure rate is somewhat higher than with other media (which is another gamble anyway).

Still haven’t done any -DL burning since media cost is an inhibitor though I may eventually give it a try.

Oh, one final thing: Space/cost-effective CD/DVD storage can be challenging. Best I’ve found for my purposes/budget:

ALLSOP 27552 SLIMLINE CD JEWEL CASES WITH ORGANIZER (search if you’re curious)

Costco had two-packs of those for awhile, then a similar model. Kicking myself for not stocking up. Can’t find an online vendor without ridiculous shipping rates. I’ve been recycling old spindles for archival storage of infrequently accessed media, an acceptable price/convenience tradeoff for now.


October 27, 2006, 22:17

Comment by ssp: User icon

jochen: yeah I checked that circle but just found some numbers and a 1-8× note there.

sjk: thanks for that extensive guide and the pointer to the drutil command. Looks like a really powerful one. Unfortunately no ‘Media ID’ is given for my disks.

As I read that it’s quite unlikely to actually get the same disks again – even with the same brand name – after many months, I just went and bought a pack of Verbatims which other buyers at amazon seemed quite happy with as well. Let’s hope they’ll do the trick.

October 29, 2006, 12:00

Comment by sjk: User icon

I’d be suspicious of media quality if it doesn’t have a detectable Media ID although that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with it. Apparently the batch you’ve got burns fine even if you can’t predict its shelf life.

Yep, the Verbatim 8x DVD-R media feedback I saw at Amazon was generally positive — higher than Ridata/Ritek. I’d be curious to know the Media ID of the Verbatim media you bought, if you want to post it here later if you remember. Thanks.

Amazon has remained my favorite choice for online shopping, with free shipping on most orders over $25 and no tax. Free ground shipping other vendors offer doesn’t matter when you’re living on an island. USPS Priority Mail can be relatively inexpensive; that’s popular with eBay sellers though I don’t shop that way too often (or at all, really).

October 31, 2006, 21:04

Comment by ssp: User icon

I just checked the new Verbatim DVDs and drutil gives a Media ID of MCC 03RG20 for those.

What is a bit strange is that drutil says that the disk is appendable, blank, overwritable although I don’t think it should be overwritable.

November 1, 2006, 23:59

Comment by ssp: User icon

I actually tried using one the Verbatim DVD-Rs by now and it works just fine with my writer (external Benq something).

November 5, 2006, 2:43

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