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Prices continue to drop on devices that can record on DVD-ROM discs — the souped-up version of the familiar CD-ROM — making the format more practical for everyday office use. Only a few months ago, DVD recorders cost $1,000 to $2,000, but some models now can be bought for less than $500. And discs for the devices are available for $2 to $8 each. DVD format offers one great advantage over the simple CD-R format that many computer users take for granted: capacity. CDs hold about 650 megabytes of data, while standard DVDs have a capacity of 4.7 gigabytes, or more than seven times as much data. Some variations of the standard DVD can hold up to 17 GB. This capacity makes DVDs handy for storing huge files, such as databases, trial exhibits, video, graphic presentations and computer back up files. And DVD devices will play CD-ROM discs. DVD technology is a work in progress. Competing versions — DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD+RW — make the subject complex, but some basic standards already exist. Here are a few places to learn more about this topic: Disctronics www.discusa.com/dvd/dvdmain.htm Disctronics, with an office in Plano, Texas, offers one of the most comprehensive sites for information on CD-ROMs. This easy-to-navigate site offers detailed information on topics including “Who Needs DVD?” “DVD Specifications,” “Introduction to DVD-ROM” and much more. Mpeg.org www.mpeg.org/MPEG/dvd.html From a simple explanation titled “What is DVD?” to links to DVD manufacturers’ Web sites, this is a good place to find some basic information. Several collections of frequently asked questions provide a depth of information that can satisfy anyone trying to get a grip on the developing technology. Microsoft www.microsoft.com/hwdev/tech/ stream/DVD/ This section of Microsoft’s main Web site offers a look at some of the technical aspects of DVD use, with access to drivers, white papers and industry standards. CD Solutions www.cds.com/DVD/DVDINFO.pdf DVD technology developers are taking divergent routes, and the results can be confusing to most prospective buyers. The aptly titled essay “DVD Formats and What They Are Good For” offers a simple explanation of the uses of each format. A chart shows which device manufacturers support DVD-R/RW and which support DVD-RAM, for example. EMedia Professional www.emediapro.net/EM1999/ parker1.html “Writable DVD: A Guide for the Perplexed” is a 1999 “dramatis personae, a guide to the cast of characters and a brief outline of their capabilities and capacity,” the author says. Some of the information in the report has become outdated since publication, but it gives a good look at the beginnings of the varying formats.

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