Which is the
right media?

We provide some basics on the major
recordable media types below -
CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray and USB Drives

Media Comparison Chart

Use the comparison chart below to help you determine which type of media you should choose for your media produciton project.
CD DVD-5 DVD-9 Blu-ray (BD) USB Flash Drive
Formal Name Compact Disc Digital Versatile Disc
(a.k.a. Digital Video Disc)
Digital Versatile Disc
Dual Layer
Blu-ray Flash memory + integerated universal serial bus
Media storage type Optical disc Optical disc Optical disc High density optical disc Flash memory
Recordable format CD-R
(Compact Disc Recordable)
DVD-R
(DVD - recordable)
DVD-R DL
(DVD recordable dual layer
BD-R
(Blu-ray disc recordable)
Generally recordable in standard format
When Commercially Launched 1982 Mid 1990s Mid 1990s Early 2000s 2000
Launched by Sony & Philips Philips, Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic Philips, Mitsubishi, Pioneer Sony IBM, M-Systems
Typical uses Audio & data storage. Pictures, MP3, MP4, video, music, software, programs, documentation, DDP, Master. Video & data storage. Pictures, MP3, MP4, video, music, software, programs, documentation, DDP, Master. Video & data storage. Pictures, MP3, MP4, video, music, software, programs, documentation, DDP, Master. Highest quality video & audio storage & playback (high definition). Data, Pictures, MP3, MP4, video, music, software, programs, documentation, Master Data storage. Pictures, audio, MP3, MP4, video, music, software, programs, documentation, DDP, CD, DVD or Blu-ray Master.Bootable disc drive. Encrypted storage. File backup.
Capacity 700 MB of data and/or 80 minutes of uncompressed audio. 4.7 GB of data and/or video. 8.5 GB. 25 GB or 50 GB. 50GB supports 9 hrs of HD content or 23 hrs standard content Typically 256MB to 32GB, but available up to 512GB
Physical attributes 120 mm wide (4.7"), comprised of layers:
  • 1.2 millimeters thick polycarbonate (plastic)
  • Shiny layer, typically of aluminum, that reflects optical laser
  • Lacquer protecting "shiny layer"
120 mm wide (4.7"), comprised of layers:
  • 1.2 millimeters thick polycarbonate (plastic)
  • Shiny layer, typically of aluminum, that reflects optical laser
  • Lacquer protecting "shiny layer"
120 mm wide (4.7"), comprised of layers:
  • 1.2 millimeters thick polycarbonate (plastic)
  • Shiny layer, typically of aluminum, that reflects optical laser
  • Lacquer protecting "shiny layer"
120 mm wide (4.7"), comprised of layers:
  • 1.2 millimeters thick polycarbonate (plastic)
  • Shiny layer, typically of aluminum, that reflects optical laser
  • Lacquer protecting "shiny layer"
Metal or plastic bbody. May include a cover or cap to protect the drvie from dirt or dust. Many standard and custom shapes & sizes available.
Weight 15-20 grams 15-20 grams 15-20 grams 15-20 grams Varies by casing type, typically about 30 grams
Pricing per unit $ $ $ to $$ $$ to $$$ $$$
Advantages
  • Physical backup of data
  • Portable storage
  • Playback of high quality digital audio and music.
  • Physical backup of data
  • Portable storage
  • Playback of high quality video, digital audio and music
  • Playback of 120 minutes of video; ideal for films and movies.
  • Physical backup of data
  • Portable storage
  • Playback of high quality video, digital audio and music
  • Playback of 240 minutes of standard definition (SD) video; ideal for films and movies.
  • Physical backup of data
  • Portable storage
  • Playback of 500+ minutes of video (50 GB disc) high definition (HD) video (1080 pixels), digital audio, music. Playback of minutes of video; ideal for films, movies.
  • Portable
  • Magnetic resistant
  • More durable than digital optical discs
  • Small form factor
  • High capacity to size ratio
  • Hi-speed file transfers and accessibility
  • Backup
  • Rewritable & removable
  • Easily (re)formatted for higher capacities and partitions
  • Many available form factors and customization.
Considerations
  • Prone to physical damage, such as scratches
  • Can be affected by environmental exposure such as extreme heat and cold.
  • Prone to physical damage, such as scratches
  • Can be affected by environmental exposure such as extreme heat and cold
  • Will not play in CC players
  • Requires a DVD-R compatible reader or writer to play in computers.
  • Prone to physical damage, such as scratches
  • Can be affected by environmental exposure such as extreme heat and cold
  • Will not play in CD players
  • Requires a dual layer compatible reader or writer to play in computers.
  • Cost, typically much higher than DVD
  • Prone to physical damage, such as scratches
  • Can be affected by environmental exposure such as extreme heat and cold
  • Will not play in CD or DVD players
  • Requires a Blu-ray compatible player or reader or writer to play in computers.
  • Limited number of write and erase cycles
  • Prone to loss or theft due to small size
  • Can transfer viruses, worms and/or malware.
Players & compatibility CD players, computers, DVD players, Blu-ray players DVD players, computers, Blu-ray players DVD players, computers, Blu-ray players Blu-ray players, computers Windows, OSX, PC, MAC, Linux computers
Labeling or printing Inkjet, offset, thermal & silk screen printing. Labels sometimes used for DIY printing. Inkjet, offset, thermal & silk screen printing. Labels sometimes used for DIY printing. Inkjet, offset, thermal & silk screen printing Inkjet, offset, thermal & silk screen printing One or two sided printing. Silk screen printing, laser engraving, etching
Packaging Options Many standard plastic, paper, cardboard and eco-friendly packaging options. Most common include jewel cases, printed sleeves, digipaks, eco-wallets, paper sleeves Many standard plastic, paper, cardboard and eco-friendly packaging options. Most common include amaray (DVD) case, printed sleeves, eco-wallets, paper sleeves Many standard plastic, paper, cardboard and eco-friendly packaging options. Most common include amaray (DVD) case, printed sleeves, eco-wallets, paper sleeves Limited blu-ray specific options, most common is semi-opaque blue plastic case. Many CD and DVD case options available. Typically small boxes, vinyl sleeve or blister seal for retail; custom options available, depending on application.
Technical Info Sony & Phillips Red Book standard format for audio. NTSC & PAL formats. NTSC & PAL formats. Dolby digital 5.1 channel surround sound. 480 pixel maximum resolution. NTSC & PAL video formats. Dolby digital. 7.1 channel surround sound. 1080 pixel maximum resolution. 3D compatible. Removable and rewritable. USB plug. NAND flash memory. FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS formats. Bootable.