Digital versatile disc burners are fast and reliable machines used for archiving and storage. Home movies recorded on DV or VHS should be offloaded to DVD, taking advantage of the format's superior shelf life and durability. Combination Blu-ray/DVD burners allow even greater capacity, with Blu-ray media storing the equivalent of up to 10 DVDs. Backing up critical photos, assignments and insurance documents are all excellent examples of reasons to select a DVD burner.
1File Size and Types: Choosing whether to use a DVD or combination Blu-ray/DVD burner is largely a function of the quantity and size of the files you need to archive. For example, high definition camcorders record at very high bit rates. When you dump those files onto digital media, you may have to use multiple DVDs or a single Blu-ray. Conversely, storing a few gigabytes of text documents usually requires a single DVD or, in some cases, a CD. Since recordable Blu-ray media offers 25GB or 50GB of storage versus 4.7GB per DVD, you could potentially back up an entire hard drive with a single Blu-ray.
2Standalone Drives: Standalone Blu-ray/DVD/CD burners are self-powered units. These devices have their own internal processing, and often include the ability to record to and from media card formats such as Memory Stick. Additionally, these devices take direct input from HD camcorders via i.Link, DSLR cameras via USB or from legacy camcorders over composite audio and video. These units often incorporate an external screen for previewing you files prior to burning, precluding the need for connection to a PC. However, these devices can be used as external drives to your laptop or computer by connecting it to a free USB port.
3External Add-On Drives: Sony's DVD burner collection includes proprietary models. These units use proprietary connections exclusively for certain laptops and computers in their lineup, such as the Vaio Z series. If you plan to use a different brand of computer with these units, you will want to look elsewhere. Devices such as the discontinued VGP-PRZ20C/B carry the capacity to support up to three HD monitors by using a powerful internal graphics processor. The advantage to units such as this is that they provide powerful burning, playback and editing tools without adding more processing strain on your laptop.
4Performance Characteristics: Media burning speed is often a function of the type of disc used. For example, the DRU-865S burns CD-R media at 48x, whereas DVD-Rewritable media burns at 6x. Enabling features in burning software such as error correction may slow these speeds to some degree, but when using inexpensive or mildly scratched media, a bit more time is a desirable trade-off for more reliable burning. Other than burners that do not rely on a connected computer, Sony DVD burners require Windows XP Service Pack 2 at minimum, primarily because Vaio PCs exclusively run Windows at their operating system.