Home > DVD > Convert DVD > How CD is Different from DVD

Posted by Donna Peng - Nov. 8 Contact Authoremail icon

How to Tell if a Disc is a DVD or CD? The Full Differences

CD and DVD are two different discs, as you may know. But they look really similar. What's exactly the difference between CD and DVD? You buy album music CDs from your favorite artists, but do you know they can also store data and video, like VCD. Things get more complicated with CD R/RW and DVD R/RW... If you want to explore more info about CD and DVD, this CD vs DVD comparison (with table forms) has everything covered.

Basic Info about CD and DVD

CD

CD (compact disc) was originally developed by Pillips and Sony. The format was used to store music only, but further extended to store data like files and videos.
* Read mechanism: 780nm wavelength (infrared and red edge) semiconductor laser, 1200 kib/s (1x)
* Write mechanism: 1200 kib/s (1x)
* 120mm disc made of polycarbonate plastic, glass base, and aluminium layer
* 0.83 micron wide pits, 1.6 micron spacing
* The average capacity is 700MB
* Store about 60-80 minutes based on audio or video
* CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM or video Compact Discs (VCD), Super Video Compact Discs (SVCD), PhotoCD, PictureCD, CD-i, and Enhanced CD

DVD

DVD (digital versatile disc) was developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic. The format is commonly used to store data like computer programs, files, videos, etc.
* Read mechanism: 650 nm laser, 10.5Mbit/s (1x)
* Write mechanism: 10.5Mbit/s (1x)
* 120mm disc made of polycarbonate substrate, semi refelctive layer, and aluminum layer
* 0.4 micron wide pits, 0.74 micron spacing
* The average capacity is 4.7GB
* Store about 120-180 minutes based on the quality of the video
* DVD+R/RW/R DL, DVD-R/RW/R DL, DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM

CD vs DVD

The Differences: CD and DVD Types Comparison

Disc type

Description

Capacity

Layer

Recordable

Rewritable

CD-ROM

CD Read Only Memory, a pre-pressed CD that can't be written or erased.

650-700MB

1

No

No

CD-R

CD Recordable, a CD that can be burned for one time and the data will be stored on it permanently and you can't erase it. 

650-700MB

1

Yes

Write-once

CD-RW

CD Rewritable, a CD that can be rewritten for about 1,000 times.

650-700MB

1

No

Rewritable

DVD-ROM

DVD Read Only Memory, a pre-pressed DVD that is used to store data permanently. Compared to CD, DVD typically has a 6 times greater capacity. Check DVD formats for more details >>

4.7GB

1

No

No

DVD-R/ DVD+R

DVD Recordable, a written-once DVD just like CD-R but with greater capacity. DVD-R and DVD+R are two different discs supported by different DVD players.

4.7GB

1

Yes

Write-once

DVD+R/-R DL

Double (or Dual) Layer, aka. DVD+R9/-R9, the double-layer version of DVD+R/-R, with twice the capacity.

8.5GB

2

Yes

Write-once

DVD-RW

/DVD+RW

DVD Rewritable, a DVD that can be rewritten for about 1,000 times.

4.7GB

1

No

Rewritable

DVD-RAM

DVD Random Access Memory, a writable DVD that can be rewritten for about 100,000 times. It also has longer lifetime and better (approx. 30 years) and higher data security.

4.7GB

1

No

Rewritable

How to tell if a Disc is a CD or DVD? Check the Main Differences between CD and DVD

1. CD vs DVD storage

* A CD can store about 80 minutes of uncompressed sound or 60 minutes of videos. The average capacity of a CD is 700MB.
* Compared to CD, DVD has a larger capacity size. A standard DVD can hold 4.7GB, that's about 120 minutes of HD videos or 180 minutes of SD videos. However, a dual-sided, dual-layer DVD can hold up to 17GB.

2. CD and DVD layer

There are four types of DVDs:
1. Single-sided discs with one layer of data (DVD5)
2. Single-sided discs with two layers of data (DVD9)
3. Double-sided discs with one layer of data on each side (DVD10)
4. Double-sided discs with two layers of data (DVD18)
Different to DVD, CDs have no type with two sides or two layers.

3. DVD vs CD usage

* A CD is usually used to store general data, music, and lightweight software
* A DVD is usually used to store general data, movies, and operating system installation

4. Difference between CD and DVD in mechanism

Both CD and DVDs use laser light for data retrieval. A disc drive shines the laser beam onto the surface of the DVD or CD to read the bits on the disc and write the bits onto recordable CDs or DVDs with the laser beam. As DVDs use shorter wavelength 650 nm as opposed to 780nm for CD, DVDs have larger storage capacity than CDs.   

 

CD

DVD

Read mechanism

780 nm wavelength (infrared and red edge) semiconductor laser, 1200 Kibit/s (1×)

300-650 nm laser, 10.5 Mbit/s (1×)

Write mechanism

780 nm wavelength (infrared and red edge) semiconductor laser in recordable  CD-R and CD-RW

650 nm laser with a focused beam using more power than for reading, 10.5 Mbit/s (1×)

5. CD vs DVD Audio Quality

* CDs offer full uncompressed digital audio with 44.1kHz/16-bit sampling rate (1,411kbps) via PCM.
* Standard DVDs have a sampling rate of 96kHz/24-bit(9,216kbps) while a DVD-audio disc is capable of sample rates from 44.1kHz up to 192kHz/24-bit.

DVDs have an extra advantage over CDs with b etter audio quality. The audio in DVD-Video is always data-compressed using either Dolby Digital (AC-3) or DTS while DVD-A can render up to six channels of uncompressed audio. That means, DVDs can store 74 minutes of music at their highest quality level and CDs can also hold 74 minutes of music. But a DVD can hold about 6 hours+ (single-layer and single-sided) of CD-quality audio. But the SACD (Super Audio CD) is capable to offer similar audio quality like DVD-A. It also offers 5.1 channel surround sound in addition to 2-channel stereo.

6. DVD vs CD in Compatibility

As DVD has smaller pit size, so the DVD players use shorter wavelength than a CD player to read the data. Therefore, DVD players can play both DVDs and CDs. But a CD player can play CDs only and won't play DVD. Check more info about the differences of CD and DVD in compatibility below.

Disc

CD Drive

DVD Drive

TV required

Playback on computer

Copy Protection

CD

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

DVD

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

How about VCD vs DVD?

As DVDs are more commonly used to store movies and videos, below we'd like to further explore the differences of video CD and DVD.

* VCD (video Compact Disc): a CD (CD-R or CD-RW) encoded using MPEG-1 that is used to store moving pictures and sound. It can hold up to 74/80 minutes on 650MB/700MB CD. A VCD can contain chapters, video, images, slideshows, audio, and other media files.  
* VCD (Super Video Compact Disc): a CD that contains MPEG-2-encoded video and MPEG1 or MPEG2-encoded audio. It can hold about 35-60 minutes of full-motion video in very good quality on a 74/80 mini CDs with 2 stereo audio tracks and 4 subtitle tracks. SVCD has better video quality than VCD.

Disc

Disc type

Resolution

Video compression

Video Bitrate

Audio compression

Audio bitrate

VCD(NTSC/PAL)

CD

352x240, 352x288

MPEG -1

29.97/25

MP1

224 Kbit/s

SVCD(NTSC/PAL)

CD

480x480
480x576

MPEG -2

29.97/25

MP1

224 Kbit/s

DVD(NTSC/PAL)

DVD

720x480
720x573

MPEG -2

29.97/25

MP1, MP2, AC3, DTS, PCM

448 Kbit/s

Look for a DVD Author or DVD Burner?

DVD author - To write videos from any formats to DVD, try the 100% free DVD auther WinX DVD Author. Create DVD from videos MP4, MKV, AVI, MOV, ISO, etc. to a DVD with menu, subtitle easily.

DVD burner - To clone DVD to DVD for backup, WinX DVD Copy Pro may be your best bet. It read any protected titles, new DVD movies, TV series, burned discs, homemade DVDs and let you make a 1:1 DVD copy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna Peng

Donna Peng's fascination with multimedia began at an early age - shortly after she licked the physical disc and then she's been obsessed ever since. Her decade-long career at Digiarty after the graduation has seen her unmatched expertise in the field of DVD, digital video, software and anything related to home theatre. She is currently fascinated with photography.

Home > DVD > Convert DVD > Compare DVD and CD

Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with our news, updates, guides.