New options for older Macs
Of course, eMacs aren’t the only systems in which you can install a new double-layer DVD burner. You can upgrade your laptop, desktop, or even your Mac mini with one of these new optical drives.
Other World Computing sells a wide range of double-layer drives, including those for the iMac G5 and the Mac mini. MCE Technologies also sells internal drives for a range of laptops. However, if you want to upgrade an iBook, you’ll have to send the computer to MCE, who’ll do the work.
If you’re doing the job yourself, here are some resources that will help you make the switch:
Click here for step-by-step instructions on installing a DVD burner in a first-generation G4.
You can download in-depth assembly guides for PowerBook G4s—and many other laptop models—at PB FixIt. This very useful site offers a series of free downloadable PDFs and online tutorials for replacing just about any part in your laptop. —Kelly Lunsford
Double your pleasure
Double-layer DVDs (sometimes referred to as dual-layer or DVD9 discs) are nothing new. Hollywood has been using such discs for years to hold not only full-length blockbusters, but also scads of bonus material. What is new is the introduction of inexpensive, Mac-compatible DVD drives capable of recording double-layer discs.
The advantage of these drives is that they can burn almost twice as much data as a single-layer drive. This makes their discs not only useful for data backups, but also a great way to store higher-quality video—with more room, you can forgo compressing your video.
So how does it work? Double-layer DVDs have two recordable dye layers separated by a spacer. The drive burns the innermost layer—from the inside of the disc to the outer edge—using a low-energy beam. The burner then refocuses the beam and burns the outer layer from the outside edge in.
Double-layer DVDs are compatible with nearly all consumer DVD players. But they’re not inexpensive. Single-layer DVDs in bulk cost less than $1 per disc, while double-layer DVDs cost around $8 per disc.
Another disadvantage of double-layer burning is that its support on the Mac is lim-ited. iDVD 5.0.1 supports double-layer burning only with Pioneer 109 drives. DVD Studio Pro 3.0.2 (and later) is compatible with all double-layer systems. Your other option is to use third-party software such as Roxio’s Toast 6 ($100) or later, which does support burning to double-layer media on the Mac.