Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blank DVD media quality guide & FAQ

The thing that must be realized is that most media is produced by a relative small number of factories, located in several different places. These factories are mostly present in Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, some European locations. There are more, but those are the largest ones. The best media generally comes from Japan and Singapore. The worst typically comes from Taiwan or China (in stores) and Hong Kong (online).

This being said, understand that the media brand means nothing. Apple is a great brand, but they do not make their own discs, instead outsourcing to MXL (Hitachi/Maxell) or MCC (Mitsubishi Chemicals). Verbatim became infamous in 2002 by switching from high-quality MCC ID media to the inferior CMC ID media, although they quickly returned to using MCC. Companies like Memorex, Fuji and Imation all outsource to media vendors. When buying media online always be aware of fake media too (see the fakes information farther down the page).

It is the media ID that is important, as it reveals the disc manufacturer. Unfortunately, this is not written on packaging or anywhere else. Companies want consumers to be oblivious to this sort of behind-the-scenes information. To learn the media ID code, a blank disc must be put into a computer DVD burner drive and the ID read by a special utility. Some burning software reads the code by default (DVD Decrypter, for example, in ISO write mode). There are also a handful of freeware or trialware tools available: 

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