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Tiny chooses DVD-RAM

Did it really want to do that?

Tiny has bundled a recordable DVD drive into its latest home PC deal - the first time its gone with DVD. But the PC ships with a Panasonic DVD-RAM drive, which could be a concern for consumers wanting to share their data with others.

While users are able to burn CDs easily (and cheaply) and then share them with friends, colleagues or family, it's not quite so simple with DVDs.

The biggest downfall with the DVD-RAM format is its limited compatibility with other DVD drives and players in the market. Once you write a disc in this format, it can only be read by a DVD-RAM compliant drive.

Earlier this month, The Reg reported on HP making its push into recordable DVD drives. Its format of choice is DVD+RW, which is able to read DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW, but not DVD-RAM (it writes in DVD+RW format).

Panasonic's DVD-RAM product can read all the listed formats, but the problem comes in when other players try to read the data it has written. (See a comparison of DVD formats here or here.)

Tiny's solution to the problem is choosing a DVD-RAM drive that is able to write in both DVD-RAM and DVD-R formats. DVD-RAM is convenient because you can use it as second hard drive, happily writing and rewriting to it as much as you want (well, about 100,000 times). DVD-R is a write once format, but can be read on most other DVD drives and players.

It recommends users work with the DVD-RAM disc format until they have a video or some data that they want to share with someone else and then burn it from the DVD-RAM to the DVD-R, much like you would copy a CD on a CD-RW drive.

It believes that users will not have a problem understanding all this, although it does concede that it is a little confusing. We're just glad that we're not on the help-desk team.


Then there's the issue of cost. Blank CDs are cheap enough to use as cup coasters, while blank DVDs are currently a lot more expensive. Tiny is advertising its blank DVD-RAM disc at £19.99, while it sells a DVD-R disc for £14.99.

Of course, the price will drop rapidly. HP put its price recommendation on a single DVD+RW disc at $15.99, but as reader Rich Michaels points out, CNET's site already shows pricing for that particular media as low as $10.

Apple's online store advertises a 5-pack of its DVD-R media for £20.00 (excl. VAT and delivery). The site is careful to note that the DVD-R media is "For use only in DVD-R General drives, such as the Apple SuperDrive ... These discs are not compatible with DVD-R Authoring drives (i.e. Pioneer 201)."

Tiny's machine includes a Pentium 4 1.5GHz processor, 256MB RAM, 60GB hard drive, 17-inch monitor and a CD-RW drive, as well as the DVD-RAM drive, all for £1,199. ®

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Related Links

DV Direct's DVD format comparison
Pioneer's DVD format comparison

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