Dual Layer DVD Frequently Asked Questions
They are essentially the same thing, and frequently the terms are used interchangeably. To be technically correct, however, dual layer refers to the DVD-R DL format double layer refers to the DVD +R DL format. For convenience, we will use the term double layer, but the information applies to both dual layer and double layer DVDs.
Just be careful not confuse double layer DVDs with double sided DVDs – two very different things.
Do I need new equipment to play a recorded DVD +R DL disc?
No. Double layer DVD (DL) discs play on existing equipment. DL discs have been around for a long time, and many of the movies you watch or applications you install are on dual layer discs. Only some of very first DVD players produced may have a problem with a layer disc.
Do I need any special equipment for double layer DVDs?
Not to play them, but yes if you want to create them. You will need double layer capable equipment to burn or duplicate double layer DVDs, and you must use DVD +/-R DL discs. Both of these are widely available from a variety of manufacturers.
Do I need new software to write to a DVD DL disc?
Yes. Along with DVD DL media and a double layer capable drive, the burning software also has to support double layer burning. Most off-the-shelf video applications and video freeware support double layer, but you might want to verify the software is DL capable if you plan on creating double layer DVDs. If your PC came with a double layer drive, the software to burn DVDs is probably able to create double layer DVDs. However, if you upgrade to a double layer drive you may have to upgrade the software as well.
What is the capacity of a DVD DL disc?
A double layer disc can hold about 8.5 Gbytes of data and are sometimes known as DVD-9s. That is almost twice as much as a standard DVD (a.k.a. DVD-5), which holds 4.7 Gbytes. The extra capacity can hold the data needed to see a standard length movie in digital quality video.
How much video does a double layer DVD hold?
That depends on the video quality. Standard definition video requires much less capacity than High Definition. A double layer DVD can hold about 10 hours of standard video, and about 4 hours of improved quality digital video - twice as much as a standard DVD.
Will I need to flip the DVD over to use the additional capacity?
No. The double layers on a DVD are on the same side. A transparent second layer of data is placed over the first layer of data. Players and drives will automatically read the two layers of data without any involvement from you. They will play like all normal DVDs. There are double-sided DVDs that have data written on both sides, and with those discs you must turn the disc over to use the other side. Double sided, however, is completely different and should not be confused with double layer. Double layer DVDs are very common (i.e. most movie DVDs) while double sided DVDs are far less common.
Will single layer DVDs continue to be available?
Yes, they will be available well into the foreseeable future. Most computers today do not come with DL capable drives, and single layer DVDs are still the standard for average home burning and recording. Plus, double layer drives can use both DL and standard DVDs, so single layer DVDs will probably be around as long as DVDs are around.