Question about Mini-DVDs
December 25, 2006 11:41 AM   Subscribe

How do I copy Mini-DVDs without a DVD burner? (more)

I have a Sony Mini-DVD camcorder. I don't intend on doing much (if any) editing, so the Mini-DVD format works well for me (as opposed to a camera with a hard drive). But, I'd like to find a way to make more than one copy of the DVDs I create, i.e. for family, etc. But, my computer does not have a DVD burner. Is there some kind of relatively inexpensive stand-alone DVD burner that would work well for my (limited) purposes? Any other options I'm not thinking of?
posted by suasponte to Technology (8 answers total)
The cheapest possible solution would probably be to just add a DVD burner, assuming you have a desktop. You can get very nice Pioneer units for about $30... $40 for the retail flavor with Nero burning software. is a good source.

That should be cheaper than any standalone unit you'd be able to buy.

If you have a laptop, you could probably do a USB burner, but those usually cost more, because you're also paying for an enclosure, power supply, and possibly a fan. It'd probably still be cheaper than a standalone unit.
posted by Malor at 11:52 AM on December 25, 2006

I'll also add that this is generally very easy to do... you open your case, unscrew your existing CD drive, detach two cables, and plug them into the same spots on the new drive. Screw it back in, close the case, and you're done. From there, everything should just work.

Should take about ten minutes, and I'd think it would be almost impossible to get wrong.
posted by Malor at 2:29 PM on December 25, 2006

"and I'd think it would be almost impossible to get wrong"

Heh. I take it you have never worked in any sort of IT support industry, or walked past the tardpartrol at Best Buy.

It is fairly simple though.
posted by SirStan at 3:44 PM on December 25, 2006

Malor: I've done this for a living for almost 20 years, and almost every time I do it, I forget the thing you forgot to mention: check the jumper on the old drive, and set the new one to match.

Additionally, 'mini-dvd' is apparently jargon for a DVD udf filesystem on a CD-R... Which the OP clearly does /not/Mean here... So some extra caution in communications seems called for.
posted by baylink at 11:01 PM on December 25, 2006

Mini-DVD is just a 3" DVD which holds 1.4GB of data compared to the 4.7GB of a 5" disk (CDs and DVDs are constant linear velocity devices so there is a lot more storage on the outer two inches of a disk than the inner two inches). I use them a lot for offsite data storage because they fit in a standard safety deposit box, the 5" size doesn't.

You can buy set top dvd copiers but I've never seen one that isn't at least as expensive as a USB/Firewire attached DVD burner.
posted by Mitheral at 4:40 AM on December 26, 2006

Ooh, yeah, I did forget that. Drives can be set as either 'slave' or 'master'. They have a jumper to change the setting. Make sure the new drive is set the same as the old one. Usually, it will just work if you plug it in, but not every single time without fail.... checking the jumper should make it foolproof.

Thanks, baylink. Duh. :)
posted by Malor at 5:12 AM on December 26, 2006

Mitheral: my point was that the usage is apparently equivocal, and since the issue is "I only have a CD burner", it's pertinent.
posted by baylink at 1:16 PM on December 26, 2006

Like the first response stated, you can get a standard DVD-RW cheap (The Pioneer 111d is one of the best if not the best burner. ~$32).

You can also get an external USB enclosure for that drive fairly cheap (from $20).
posted by mphuie at 1:52 PM on December 26, 2006

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