Four free little-known uses for DVD-R
I love DVD-recordable discs – they’re the cheapest, most versatile removable storage media available. Most of us use them every day for backing up important files, making home movies, even turning Linux operating system downloads into Live DVDs.
But here are four less-well known but equally useful ways you can use DVD-recordable media:
One of the key features that really isn’t talked about enough with DVD media is the fact that it can be made bootable. By combining the goodness of the El Torito disc format with bits of FreeDOS and the free DOS music player, MpxPlay, you can actually create your own bootable disc jukebox.
It works by creating a small bootable partition on the disc that contains the FreeDOS boot loader, mpxplay and a small batch file that starts up mpxplay and tells it to search through the storage partition of the DVD (you have to effective partitions on the disc – a boot partition of 1.44MB and the rest of the disc as a storage partition).
It then lets you play through the music on the DVD. But that can be MP3, OGG or any format supported by mpxplay. All you need is a working computer with a DVD drive – because you boot the PC from this bootable DVD, it doesn’t matter what operating system is on the PC because you’re not using it. You’re using the bootable DVD instead with its FreeDOS partition.
You can also do the same thing with movies thanks to a tiny Linux distro called eMoviX. This is no more than about 8MB but it comes with everything you need to create a small bootable movie player that searches and plays video files also located on the bootable DVD you create.
There are three versions of the basic Movix distro – MoviX, eMoviX and MoviX2. MoviX is the original larger distro version, eMoviX, the smaller bootable version and MoviX2 features X-window support.
The beauty of eMoviX is that it means you don’t need to worry about whether a computer has the required audio or video codec support to play the movies you want. Everything already exists inside the eMoviX distro and that means you don’t even have to worry about what operating system the PC has. You just boot up off the DVD and away you go.
Yeah, we all know how to make DVD movie discs these days but did you know you can make your own DVD-Audio discs as well? DVD-Audio was meant to be the “next big thing” in digital audio and in fact, a number of DVD-Audio supporting DVD movie players have been released over the last few years, including a number of models made by Japanese home entertainment specialist Pioneer.
DVD-Audio offers the ability to have Blu-ray quality music on a normal DVD, however you need to have a stand-alone DVD player capable of playing DVD-Audio discs for it to work. (Some DVD movie playback software for the PC can also play DVD-Audio discs if I remember correctly.)
While there is little in the way of low-cost commercial tools available to make your own DVD-Audio discs, there is a way you can do it for free. The team at DVDA-Author are slowly but surely putting together a series of tools that enable you to make your own DVD-Audio discs. Of course, you really need to have high-quality, high-sample-rate (96 or 192kHz) audio to begin with to make the most of DVD-Audio but it can be used with ordinary CD-grade (44.1kHz) stereo audio. That way, you can fit roughly five or six music CDs onto one playable DVD with their original audio quality.
The basic reason is cost. The cost of the Blu-ray players, the cost of the movies and for the techie consumer, the cost of Blu-ray burners and the cost of Blu-ray media. Even today, you’ll struggle to find a 25GB write-once Blu-ray recordable disc for under $AUD20. Most Blu-ray burners are well over $AUD350 ($US200 or so).
So, most people stick with low-cost DVD.
But if you’ve already forked out for a Blu-ray player or a PlayStation 3 gaming console, you may have bought more than you bargained for. Check you Blu-ray player for an AVCHD icon. If you’ve got it, you’re in luck. If you’ve got a PS3, you’re already in luck.
These players and consoles can play a relatively new disc format called AVCHD. It allows high-definition video – up to 1080p – to be loaded onto cheap DVD media and played back in AVCHD-supported players and the PS3 console.
You need an MPEG2 or H.264 encoder (there are plenty of these available on the web) – NOTE: AVCHD discs support both MPEG2 and H.264 video. I know this because I’ve created my own MPEG2-AVCHD discs that play back perfectly in my Sony Blu-ray player.
The other tool, apart from basic DVD burning software, you’ll need is TsMuxeR. This tool basically gets the H.264 or MPEG2 video file into the right format for AVCHD disc playback as well as creating the AVCHD disc structure itself.
Okay, so that’s four unusual, not so well known but useful uses for blank DVD media.
Got any others we’ve missed (apart from the usual ones)? Let us know below.
- Why Blu-ray may succeed afterall
- Q&A – Which DVD players can play high-definition video?
- PC User December 2008 – Creating your own HD movies on DVD
- DVD-Audio – how to make your own discs – part 1
- Q&A – Can you put high-definition video onto DVD?
- 10 free video converters for Windows
- PC User magazine starts building Android apps!
- How to rip DVD movies and play them on your netbook
- Q&A – My Windows XP netbook won’t play DVD movies. How do I fix this?
- Q&A – How do I get my VHS tapes onto DVD?