Friday, February 22, 2008

Say hi to your computer - part 6 - the CD/DVD drive

Ok, we're pretty much on our last part regarding the major parts of your computer's hardware. Today, we're covering the CD/DVD drive.

Only about 5 years ago, the CD and DVD drives used to come separately. DVD drives were more expensive.

But now that prices are down, almost all recent computers come with combined DVD/CD drives and they can do the following:

Read CDs or DVDs - this means you can play your music CD or your DVD movie, or even VCD's, which I won't get into today.

Write to CDs or DVDs - this means you can write data (or also called "burn") to your CD or DVD's just like you could in the olden days of floppy disks. Except, your typical floppy only held about 1.44 mbs before (less than one song downloaded from iTunes) while a CD holds about 700mbs, and a single-layer DVD holds about 4.7Gbs. Yep, that's a lot.

The ones that separate the older ones from the new ones are the fact that they write at different speeds. The common burn speed for CD's these days are 48x.

That means 48 times the normal playing speed!

The common burn speed for DVD's these days are either 8x or 16x. Note that you need to buy the right DVDs as well. Some DVDs themselves are only capable of burning at 16x, but only 8x, so if you stick that into a 16x drive, it will only write as fast as 8x.

Windows XP and Vista can handle writing to a DVD or CD, but I really recommend something like Nero (which probably already came with your PC).

If you don't like Nero, you can try this one:

Download BurnAware Free Edition

It's pretty simple in its interface and free.

By the way, if you have an older PC, and just want to add a DVD drive to an empty slot, or just want to replace your current one, it's pretty easy. I recommend that you check out for the best ones by reading the reviews.

The not-so-good drives out there will give you 'coasters' which is slang for a useless DVD or CD can't be read to to a bad burn.

I'll cover how to add one in a later day, but just get familiar with the good ones in the meantime.

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