How DVDs Work

By: Gayle A. Alleman


What does "DVD" stand for?

"DVD" stands for digital versatile disc, but some sources declare that it doesn't stand for anything anymore.

Can I record television shows or movies on a DVD player?

Yes, you can -- if your DVD player is also a DVD recorder.


Can I play CDs on a DVD player?

Yes. DVD players are completely compatible with audio compact discs. And music will become increasingly available in DVD format. See What is the difference between DVD-audio and CDs? for more discussion of the DVD audio format.

What is the difference between DVD+R and DVD-R?

DVD+ ("plus") and DVD- ("dash") are two competing DVD formats. You may remember the "war" between the Betamax and VHS formats for domination of the VCR market. The big difference with DVD+R vs. DVD-R is that there are hybrid (dual-format) drives capable of reading both types. Many companies have taken sides -- the DVD Forum is a group of manufacturers that support DVD-R, while the DVD+RW Alliance supports that format. Consumers have yet to make either format the winner.

What are region codes?

Movie studios use region codes on DVDs to thwart unauthorized copying, and to control the release dates of DVD movies. The actual region code is stored in one byte on the DVD. The DVD player or drive has a region code in its firmware. Personal computer DVD-ROM players often have the code in the software or in the MPEG-2 decoder.

For the player or drive to play the movie, the two codes must match. The code is also printed on the back of a DVD package, superimposed on a small image of the globe. If you have a DVD that was made for release in Asia, you won't be able to play it on a DVD player intended for use in Australia.

For more information on DVDs, DVD players and related topics, check out the links that follow.

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