ZIFFPAGE TITLEOne Down, One to
Go"> One Down, One to Go Back at home, I decided to tackle another nagging DVD problem. I typically use version 3.51 of Sonics MyDVD to create video DVDs from my older 8-mm analog and digital tapes. I tried to take two one-hour digital tapes and compress them onto one DVD. To fit as much as possible on the DVD, I used MyDVDs lowest quality and bit-rate settings. I ended up with a DVD that could play on my PC, but not on my two-year-old Toshiba SD-2200 player (I got a menu screen, but the video wasnt viewable). When I spoke with Sonic senior vice president David Habiger at Comdex, he theorized that my problem might actually not be in his companys software or even in my playback hardware, but in the size of my project and the quality of my DVD discs.Larger, more complex projects (a 2-hour DVD fits into the larger category) tend to push the limits of DVD-drive compatibility, according to Habiger, who says DVDs with more movies, slideshows, menus, effects, and so forth are less likely to play on a variety of set-top DVD players. Habiger adds that even player manufacturers differ in their interpretations of the DVD specs, so makers of DVD authoring software have to work even harder to account for the vagaries. But wait; theres one other little hitch in the wild west of DVD playback abilitythe quality of the discs themselves. When I told Habiger I paid roughly $20 for my 20 DVDs, he said he thought the reason for my playback troubles was bad media. He has concluded that low-quality discs, which he says often have flaws that some players cant tolerate, are even less equipped to handle the vagaries of DVD compatibility than name brands. (With some players, you can get a problem disc to work by taking it out and putting it back into the player in a different position.)Interestingly, some of the feedback in our own forums echoed this claim.
One visitor said that "pinkish-blue" dyed disks appeared to work with more of the set-top players than any other he had tried. But Harbiger also told me that Sonic is constantly working to broaden the pallet of acceptable media and players and theorized that installing the latest version (4.0) of MyDVD and burning the project to another DVD disc (even from my same batch) might do the trick.
As suggested, I installed and used version 4.0 and found it a nice change from the previous version. The interface is both more attractive and streamlined, and Sonic haslike Sony with Click to DVD and Pinnacle with Expressionadded the ability to include slide shows in your DVD projects. Unfortunately, my test results were the same: I ended up with a disc that could play on my laptop, but not on the Toshiba set-top player. As in the first test, the DVD menu could display, but the video was garbled.
In some ways, DVD authoring remains one of the best new technologies Ive seen in a long time. Yet with compatibility surprises lurking around nearly every corner, it can be one of the most frustrating as well.