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DVD Industry Insider Report - Reliability and Standards

By The DVD Insider

We can never understand how people can go to Fry's or BestBuy or CompUSA and be delighted with the fact that they bought a spindle of 50 discs for $15 and only half of them were bad. Guess their time isn't worth anything. Of course, if the half they successfully write to do go bad in a few weeks or months they will say obviously "all" DVD media is unreliable, not just the cheap stuff.

Then they also stuffed their DVDs in a CD jewel case and pulled them by grabbing the outer edges.

The leading respectable manufacturers are working with standards groups to develop some media rating standards so the consumer will have a way of judging good from bad or marginal media. What reputable manufacturers fully understand and marginal second and third tier media producers have to understand is that the reflective layer alone doesn't determine the reliability and data life of a disc.

[CrossSection2] Media - CD and DVD - is very complex to produce despite its low cost. Dyes, reflective layer, plastics, protective coating, flatness, stamper quality, spin processes, margins monitoring and the interaction/performance of all of these items have to be precise to produce a quality disc. The leading manufacturers have the experience, expertise and infrastructure in place that deliver that performance for the consumer. Second and third tier as well as no-name producers don't have that in place and it takes time to develop.

The key for the manufacturers and standards groups will be enforcing and policing the rating usage which is not a new issue that will have to be addressed. But according to Dr. Victor McCrary, Business Area Executive for Science and Technology at Johns Hopkins University, information preservation is - or should be - a major concern for businesses, governments and individuals. He points out that much of today's information - data, photos, images, video - begins and remains digital (Forrester Research estimates 90+% of our information falls into this category.

That's why responsible disc manufacturers and standards groups are working on the data life rating issue. People and organizations need to understand and appreciate the importance of protecting their data from loss…not just theft but hard drive crashes, cheap media degradation and other factors.

We believe that ultimately - and probably as a result of the losses of irreplaceable memories - people will come to realize that if a price seems too good to be true…it probably is. It's only because of the bitter experience of a hard drive loss that people become huge believers of backup and the same will probably hold true for the quality/price of media issue.

Regular quality DVD media, properly handled is pretty robust and reliable when handled according to the manufacturers' recommendations but several firms have taken the data protection issue one step further. They've added a unique coating that protects the content from dust and rough handling. Mitsubishi, Verbatim and several others note that their new hard coating is 40x more resistant to damage than standard discs. Best of all they don't dramatically increase the cost of the media as does one manufacturer that claims 100x more resilience at a major premium in price.

We've never lost CD or DVD content because we're careful with our discs. We handle them properly and we store them properly. But we do understand that some families have kids and spastic adults who could ruin the content in a heartbeat. So the 40x hard coating cost is probably worth the added content insurance. The 100x upcharge may be more insurance than most people want to buy but… we'll see.


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