The DVD Format Wars

minus vs plus

For the last several years, two camps have been engaged in a huge battle  .  .  .  for the supremacy of one DVD format over the other  .  .  .  the "minus" vs "plus" formats.  

DVD plus is mainly backed by Philips, HP and Dell.  This includes two formats:  DVD-R and DVD-RW

DVD minus is mainly backed by Pioneer, Toshiba and Apple.  This includes two formats:  DVD+R and DVD+RW

NOTE:  the "R" stands for "Recordable" and can only be recorded once, and the "RW" stands for "ReWriteable" and can be recorded many times over (max is approx 1000 times)

The two prominent manufacturers are Pioneer (minus) and Sony (plus).  A year ago they were fiercely pitted against one another.  The DVD Forum, oddly enough, has chosen to remain solidly in the minus corner, and although the rest of the world now uses both formats - they refuse to accept the plus format !!  Very unusual for a standards body.

In 2003, Sony led the way to full compatibility with their DRU-500AX model, which supports all four formats . . . DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW.  6 months later, Pioneer followed with their release of the DVR-A06 unit.  South Korean and Taiwanese companies, who have a large market share in the optical storage industry, have stated that they will not pick one format, but follow the market.  That market is now divided fairly evenly, 50/50.

Compare DVD minus and DVD plus:

The Cost

At this moment DVD plus media and recorders are slightly more expensive than DVD minus equipment, and this has nothing to do with the components or manufacturing costs!!  The production of both media types is technically about the same and there is no reason for DVD plus to be more expensive.  The reason is that minus DVD's came out first and have a slight edge in the installed user base.  But even as we speak the prices are leveling out. Once both formats have about the same output of recordable discs, the prices of both will be identical.

Compatibility with the HT DVD Players

The most important issue is  -  will it play !!!  Several years ago, there were many HT systems that failed when PC recorded DVD's were inserted.  It is much, much better today - however, since many people have older units, you must consider this factor.  When you burn a DVD, there will be a number of people that will not be able to play it !!!!!

Minus and Plus have the same compatibility rates.  The real difference is between R and RW, where players have more trouble with RW discs.  This is fortunate, since for distribution, you would never use RW.  The R discs are cheaper, and less likely to lose data.  Now for the compatibility rates.  There are all sorts of complex studies and tables that list various models, but let's make it simple:

DVD-R and DVD+R are compatible with about 90% of DVD Players

DVD-RW and DVD+RW are compatible with about 70% of DVD Players

The moral of this story, is that it doesn't matter what type of burner you buy as far as plus or minus goes.  It does matter as far as quality, though.  To be safe, get a Pioneer or a Sony  -  they are the only burners that have been widely used by the public, and they work well !!

Software Plus authoring software has more flexibility and more options than Minus, but that is only because more $$$ has been spent on it