DVD Recorders: An Update

The Good-To-Middling News

The introduction of dual-layer DVD recorders looks to be right on track, with recorders first becoming available in April/May. Indeed, a couple manufacturers have indicated that their current 8X recorders can be transformed into dual-layer recorders with a firmware upgrade (apparently, this won’t be the case with 4X recorders).

The dual-layer recording will be done with the DVD+R standard, not the DVD-R standard.

Initial speeds will be much slower than with single-layer DVD recording: 2.4X. In practice, this isn’t as bad as it might seem, since simply copying everything bit-for-bit will eliminate the step of having the CPU compress all those video bits to fit onto one DVD (or alternatively, having to record two DVDs to get everything on a dual-layer).

However, that’s probably slower than many would like. Some manufacturers have indicated that 4X dual-layer recording will become available in September.

Outside of one potential killer factor, these will no doubt become the hottest computer-related Christmas gift of 2004.

A Last-Second Tackle?

DVD recording is a little like shaving. Forget what the razor cost, how much are the blades?

We don’t know yet how much dual-layer media is going to cost.

There’s a harrowing estimate over here, which puts the cost per disk at $15USD or more until the end of the year.

I think somebody somewhere got their facts wrong. Prices like that are pretty likely for the first HD-DVD disks, but I don’t think the manufacturers would be jumping on the dual-layer bandwagon as eagerly as they plan if media cost that much.

Even if this proves to be true, you’d still want dual-layer capacity simply because:

  • eventually the media prices will drop enough to use it and
  • in the meantime, these drives will be perfectly capable of burning single-layer DVDs. It’s not an either/or; it’s an and.

    P.S. The last time I wrote about this, I found to my surprise that current DVD owners took rather great offense to the notion that current DVD recorders weren’t quite ready for prime time. To them I say, well, they’re not, but this isn’t a technical issue; it’s an audience issue.

    No doubt they’re good enough for those people willing to give them some care, attention and willingness to make compromises, but just because you’re willing to do that doesn’t mean everyone else is. The average person would prefer a perfect copy with no more effort than copying a music track on a CD, and that’s what they’ll get with dual-layer.

    Killing An Anthill, One Ant At A Time

    Of course, the vast majority of DVD copying is completely illegal, as a judge pointed out to 3-2-1 Studios, a maker of such software, a few weeks ago, forcing them to remove the CSS decryptor from the program.

    One down, eight hundred and seventy two CSS decryptors to go.

    This approach simply isn’t going to stop movie copying any more than trying to get rid of an anthill by stepping on ants one at a time.

    Injunctions won’t work. Lawsuits won’t work. I don’t even think jail time would do a whole lot of good at this point. The horse is out of the barn for CSS, and suing people one at a time is like playing whack-a-mole.

    The core difficulty the content creators have is that they moved like snails trying to catch gazelles when all this first happened, but they’re moving at warp speed compared to the legislators and DRM people, who move as fast as rocks.

    Expecting to stop digital theft the way it’s being handled now is like trying to catch a thief by sending a cop over three years after the theft was recorded.

    Does this mean digital theft is unstoppable? Wrong question.

    We have laws and law enforcement against crimes not to stop them all the time, just most of the time. People still murder and steal despite all the laws against them. Pretty often, as a matter of fact.

    But nowhere near as often as they would without laws and cops and judges backing up those laws.

    Can digital theft be made mostly stoppable? Sure. First, a robust DRM needs to be governmentally mandated, with nice long jail sentences for those who circumvent it. Second, you enforce it. Really enforce it.

    If you don’t nip it in the bud, you don’t nip it at all.

    Yes, I’m aware that some alternatives to the current pay-and-play business model have been suggested. We’ll talk about them in detail some time in the near future, but the short answer is that they simply won’t work: the cure is worse than the disease.

    Up to now, governmental leaders just haven’t taken the problem seriously. Just about all are clueless, and even the most astute are only semi-clued.

    Until they wise up and get serious, this is going to continue, and movies are the next target.


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