Aspect ratio limitations on DVD+R/RW

Gregory writes:

I wonder if you could answer a question that arose from your column “All-write recorder”, a review of the Philips DVDR77 DVD recorder, from The Canberra Times 16/8/2004.You wrote that “… DVD+R and +RW discs, at least when used in a consumer recorder, do not support a 16:9 aspect ratio. All discs recorded will have 4:3 coded as their video aspect.”

A friend played back a copy of one of his 16:9 discs (The Battle of Britain) on both his wide screen and 4:3 televisions. He said the disc played back correctly on the 4:3 TV, with black bars at top and bottom of the screen, but the picture was not distorted.

Is this because the discs he used were cut on a PC?

I was wondering if you could provide a URL where this sort of problem is discussed?

The 4:3 limitation is for recording in the +VR format (this apparently stands for ‘Real Time Video’) used on consumer DVD+R/RW recorders. When using a computer burner, particularly if copying existing discs, the result is in DVD-Video format, and the 16:9 attribute is carried across without difficulty.

The +VR format is discussed in this article at DVDPlusRW.ORG. Look under ‘Aspect Ratio’. You may have to read this a couple of times to make sense of it (I did) because it is phrased as though this inability is some kind of a virtue. Which, of course, it isn’t.

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