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M-Disc optical media reviewed: Your data, good for a thousand years

Jon L. Jacobi | July 3, 2015
You're done with optical discs as a means of data and media delivery, or soon will be. But when done right, as it has been with Millenniata's M-Disc, optical has a particular advantage--longevity.

DVD and Blu-ray Compatibility

I'm not going to live a thousand years, so the only thing I could test was compatibility. Millenniata was nice enough to send me an M-Disc-compatible optical writer, the Samsung/TSST SE-506CB.RSBD, for write testing. I also tried a vintage 2006 Plextor PX-B320SA, but it didn't recognize the M-Disc BD-R media as legitimate media for writing.

As BD-R HTL was part of the Blu-ray standard, and M-Disc functions much the same way, any BD burner is physically capable of writing M-Disc BD media. But as my experience with the PX-B320SA proved, if the firmware doesn't like it, it won't work.

The logo on the front of an optical burner is actually only for M-Disc DVDs, and then only for writing, as many non-logo drives will read it just fine. Laser strength must be increased beyond that normally used with CD/DVD R/RW to ablate the data layer in M-Disc DVDs, so compatible firmware must be in place. Older drives could be upgraded for writing, but as there's little financial incentive, don't hold your breath.

The SE-506CB.RSBD burned flawlessly, so I took the discs it created and tried to read them using every drive I could find. M-Disc says its recordable DVDs should be readable in 90 percent of the DVD drives installed, or being sold now. I didn't hit 90 percent, but even though recognition could be slow, the majority of the drives I tested read M-Disc just fine. See the table below.

Make and model                 

Read M-Disc DVD    

Read M-Disc BD-R

LG WH16N540

Yes

Yes

Asus DRW-24B1ST

No

NA

Teac DV-W516C

No

NA

Matshita BD-MLT UJ272

Yes

Yes

Matshita UJ8B0AW

Yes

NA

TSST SN-208FB

Yes

NA

Teac DV-W28S-V

Yes

NA

Plextor PX-B320SA

Yes

Yes

     

Though your old drive might work fine, if you're going to commit to optical for the long haul, it might not be a bad idea to grab one of the latest, greatest Blu-ray burners. Make sure it supports triple-layer, 100GB BDXLfor less disc swapping

Not dirt-cheap and other negatives

M-Disc released 4.7GB DVD discs, which are suitable for archiving documents and perhaps your most treasured photos, last year. For video or other larger files, the recently released 25GB and 100GB BD-R, as well as the soon-to-be-released (Q3) 50GB BD-R discs should take care of business.

But M-Discs aren't cheap. At retail, the DVDs are about $3, the 25GB discs about $5, the upcoming 50GB discs around $10, and the 100GB $20 or so. Just keep in mind that this is not media that you'll have to roll over every few years, as with CD/DVD R/RW or dye-based BD-R LTH. It's a one-time deal. At least until the next technological storage shift.

 

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