I have 50-odd DVD-RAM discs with various TV shows and movies on them but I am discovering I may not have any way to play them back - I foolishly gave away my DVD player/recorder because it is 220V and I moved to Canada which is 120V.
At the very least I may have to pry the discs out of their cartridges but even if I can put the discs into players I have no guarantee of being able to play them back. Panasonic (who sold me one) no longer sells DVD-RAM players apparently (according to their customer helpline). If I buy an off-the-shelf Blu-Ray player what are the odds it will play a DVD-RAM disc? Is there a non-Panasonic current solution I can try?
Failing something current - are there DVD-RAM-reading drives recent enough to be still purchasable new in Canada?
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You can copy the AV data off DVD-RAM drives with DVD drive that supports DVD-RAM. Then you can author new disks with that data. If the discs are CPRM protected you'll need relcprm to decrypt them. Mpg2Cut2 is good for cutting the VRO files into segments.
OK so how will I know if a DVD drive supports DVD-RAM? You are presumably talking about my using a PC or Mac to read the files? Sounds like a lot of work - remove the discs from their cartridges, convert the files and maybe decrypt them... I was hoping for a conventional player that would just play them!
DVD-RAM is and always has been essentially a dead format in the USA and Canada. I think you can still find drives for them, but you'll probably have to look online, maybe at http://www.newegg.com. I've got a burner that handles it, but I've never cared enough to even test it. If you buy an off the shelf player in Canada, the odds are that it won't support DVD-RAM. The only way I know of to know if a PC drive can handle it is to run something like Nero's InfoTool to see what formats a drive supports. The format was never popular in North America nor were the discs cheap (VERY important in this marketplace) or easy to find. I have no idea if Macs typically support it or not, but if I had to guess, I'd guess "No" but I could always be wrong.
Thank you jman that's thorough advice with useful if discouraging background. All I could find on newegg is a bare drive for PC
I have a used DVD-RAM drive that I got at a garage sale. Takes cartridges too. They can't be that hard to find...
Have you looked at players at Goodwill (or other similar thrift shops & pawn shops)? Have seen some Panny DVD-Recorders, there also, and you know they will do DVD-RAM (being Panny).
...or you could use a transfer service.
You have another problem too, if you are from a country that used the PAL video system. N. American TVs are rarely able to display PAL video input. So, even if you found a Panasonic DVD player or DVD recorder able to play your PAL DVD-RAM discs, Panasonic DVD players and DVD recorders don't convert from PAL to NTSC, which means you won't be able to watch the video on your N. American TV.
You likely need to use a PC to play your DVD-RAM discs. I have been told that most DVD drives can read DVD-RAM discs, even if they can't write to them. I don't know if that is true because I have always bought drives that can both read and write to DVD-RAM. ImgBurn will tell you what media your drive can read. Open ImgBurn in any mode. Click "Tools" then "Drive" then "Capabilities" and you can find out is your drive reads DVD-RAM. If it doesn't read DVD-RAM, look at the specs for DVD burners at newegg.ca and you will be able to find some that have write support for DVD-RAM, which means the drive will also read them.
Panasonic creates a DVD_RTAV folder containing a VR_MOVIE.VRO file and a VR_MANGR.IFO file. The recordings are stored together in a VR_MOVIE.VRO file. The VR_MANGR.IFO file contains information about the recordings that allows Panasonic DVD recorders and some older Panasonic DVD players to creates a menu for accessing them. PC software players can't create menus from the VR_MANGR.IFO file, but some will play the VR_MOVIE.VRO files. If you happen to have PowerDVD it can play VR_MOVIE.VRO files correctly every time, as long as the disc is not CPRM protected. VLC and Pot Player will play most VRO mode recordings (if they are not protected by CPRM), but may stumble over a few individual discs.
[Edit] Reading another of your posts, it sounds like you want an external drive for a Mac. An example of an external drive that reads DVD-RAM and works with both Macs and PCs http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135256 There are probably others too. Unfortunately, ImgBurn is Windows-only software. You will have to take your DVD-RAM discs out of the cartridge to use them with most DVD drives.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 30th Aug 2014 at 01:00.
It isn't listed as a supported feature, but I've found the Toshiba DVR620 can play DVD-RAM discs recorded by Panasonic DVD-RAM recorders. Even CPRM protected discs.
Good find. [Edit 2]...although the manual indicates it won't play PAL video:
DVD is recorded in different color systems throughout the world. The most common color system is NTSC (which is used primarily in the United States and Canada). This unit uses NTSC, so DVD you play back must be recorded in the NTSC system. You cannot play back DVD recorded in other color systems.
However, if the recordings are important, copying the data to quality DVD-R media (Verbatim AZO or TayoYuden JVC) has also some merit. The phase-change material used for all re-writable media, including DVD-RAM, returns to its original state over time. DVD-RAM claims a 30-year lifespan, but some discs will loose data integrity long before then.
[Edit] If someone uses a Mac and has a DVD burner that can read DVD-RAM... MPEG Streamclip can be used to split VRO files into clips (be sure to read the installation notes). DVDStyler can be used to author a standard DVD from the clips. Burn can create a DVD from the authored DVD files and folders.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 30th Aug 2014 at 14:28.
My slightly older Panasonic BD player will play RAM discs just fine, not the cartridge ones though.
I'd look into Panasonic BD players, no one really makes decent DVD players anymore, that Toshiba is a DVDR isn't it?
As uq said, PAL may be your biggest issue, I doubt any of the above devices would convert PAL to NTSC or even play PAL for that matter, I don't believe my Panasonic BD player even plays PAL, for sure not convert it to NTSC.
Philips DVD players and LG Blu-Ray players can frequently convert from PAL to NTSC for viewing on a N. American TV, but don't play DVD-RAM and only play Region 1 or Region 0 and Region All DVDs, if purchased from an ordinary electronics store.
[Edit]Yes, the Toshiba is a DVD Recorder VCR combo. The imported multi-system, multi-zone Panasonic DVD recorders sold by a few specialty retailers in the US, such as B&H Photo and Video, can play both PAL and NTSC DVDs and DVD-RAM but do not convert from one system to the other. PAL plays as PAL and NTSC plays as NTSC.
I finally did find a region-free Panasonic DVD player that converts from PAL to NTSC. The specs posted at the seller's website don't indicate that it plays DVD-RAM, so it may or may not do that. I don't know if it is possible to find one in Canada or have it shipped to Canada. The DVD-RAM discs would have to be removed from their cartridges. Never mind. I failed to notice that it is out of stock.
They have a region-free Panasonic Blu-Ray player available for that converts from PAL to NTSC for considerably more money: http://www.220-electronics.com/panasonic-dmp-bd91-smart-wifi-region-free-blu-player.html However the posted specs don't say anything about DVD-RAM playback.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 31st Aug 2014 at 10:57.
My Asus 12X Blu Ray Writer BW-12B1ST can read and write DVD-RAM up to 5X discs though I've never tried. Reading this info right off the box...
I have a Panasonic DMR-EZ28 that I have only recorded to DVD-RAM for the last couple of years. I don't know if this will apply to your situation but here goes.
The media in cases can be removed without much effort. There is a little "lock" you need to push with something like a toothpick, paperclip, etc. Since the case is transparent it should be easy to figure out. It's been a few years for me so I don't remember. Also I think I saw a diagram on the internet along the way.
Reading the discs: Recently I wanted a new Blu-Ray unit for my PC. I'm fortunate enough to live near a MicroCenter and when I looked on the boxes they made it clear all of the types of media they handled. Most of them could read DVD-RAM. My opinion is they want to sell units, and listing all of the capabilities helps sell units.
The Panasonic unit records a directory "\DVD_RTAV" to the disc. Other than that root is empty. DVD-RTAV has three files, two text files and a movie. It's obvious which is which by size, but "VR_MANGR.BUP and ~.IFO" are the text files that control the chapters on the movie, and "info" file and its backup. They are basically useless unless you have a playback unit. FWIW the playback unit is very particular about those files and will declare a disc unreadable, in need of a format, if they are not perfect.
The only file you are concerned with would be the great big single file called "VR_MOVIE.VRO"
Believe it or not, I copy that file to my hard drive, a USB stick, etc and rename it something like "The TV Show.MPG" With that I can open the file on all kinds of programs and players. I can plug it into my cheap Sony Blu-Ray player and it plays. Same with burning it like a data file to ad DVD-RW. It can be shared with a DLNA server.
The file is an MPEG-2 movie with a proprietary extension. If you look at it with inspection tool software it's an MPEG-2.
Good luck, and hold onto those DVD-RAM media. They are expensive and you can literally use them for the rest of your life. They have a write-erase life of 100,000 cycles. They are expensive and hard to find. If you want to get rid of some write a reply to this message and maybe we can work something out.