First of all let us dispell some myths about media. Most store brands DO NOT ACTUALLY MAKE THEIR OWN MEDIA!!!!!!!!!!! They outsource to a number of different manufacturers and they are often the culprit when it comes to crappy media. Traditionally name brands like Verbatim, TDK, Fujifilm, ect. have outsourced to good quality manufacturers (ie Taiyo Yuden, Ritek, Mitsubishi Chemicals) so they have earned a good name for themselves. The problem is that you are playing russian roulette by going this route. They don't always outsource to quality manufacturers so you can get very different results from batch to batch and in fact, most brands now seem to be outsourcing most of their media to Taiwanese companies such as CMC Magnetics and Prodisc. While these manufacturers aren't complete crap, there are definitely better options out there for the money. You can narrow it down a bit by looking at where the particular batch of media was made (ie Made In Japan is usually Taiyo Yuden but under the Fujifilm and Maxell labels you can find a Fuji, produced disc or a maxell produced disc), but there is still no 100% gaurantee.
The best way to avoid all this hassle is to order media that comes straight from the manufacturer. Then you never have to play guessing games with who is producing the media. The following list is a ranking of media manufacturers by quality and error rates. Keep in mind that it isn't just a question of whether or not a disc works but how long it will last as well. Error rate scans done by multiple people on several different forums will back up my list. Error rate scans are the best predictors of media durability, the lower the error rate, the better the media. There is no such thing as media that is 100% compatible but some of it comes really close. Anyways, here is the breakdown:
Taiyo Yuden (TY)-clearly the champ for media durability and compatibility. This is the media most often used by the companies that manufacture DVD Burners, in order to bench test their burners and develop specs for them. This stands true for both DVD-R and DVD+R formats. Now it should be noted that there are a number of Taiyo Yuden "fakes" out there. They are media primarily made by infosmart in Hong Kong and they use the Taiyo Yuden media manufacturer ID on their discs, so when you do a media ID scan it shows the same code as Taiyo Yuden. You can easily avoid these by sticking to the actual Taiyo Yuden brand or one of the major store labels that is Made In Japan. Just avoid picking up media like Matrix, Sonic, ect. that claims to have the Taiyo Yuden media ID code.
Ricoh-For the DVD+R camp this one follows very closely on the heels of Taiyo Yuden, it is quite popular because of it's lower cost, yet high compatibility and lower error rate scans. Unfortunately picking up this media can be a bit of a gamble as there aren't many places that stock Ricoh's own media. You can find Ricoh on some batches of Ritek DVD+R, Memorex DVD+R, Verbatim DVD+R. However, as mentioned above that isn't gauranteed so keep that in mind.
Mitsubishi Chemicals (MCC)-This one also ranks very high for compatibility and media durability (just a hair lower than Taiyo Yuden and Ricoh). Like Ricoh however, you aren't very likely to find Mitsubishi Chemicals labeled discs. Where you usually find MCC is on the store label Verbatim. Verbatim discs produced in Singapour and Taiwan use the MCC dye (The Verbatims made in Japan are Taiyo Yuden ). However, it should be noted that even though the Taiwanese made discs carry the MCC dye, they are actually produced by CMC Magnetics which means they are subject to lower quality standards. If you go the MCC route then try to get the Singapour produced Verbatims as they are "true MCC" produced discs and even though they use the same dye are subject to a more rigid quality control standard.
Once again, I am not saying the Taiwanese (CMC) produced MCC dye Verbatims aren't bad, but your money will be better spent on the Singapour produced ones.
This stands true for DVD-R/DVD+R (unless the DVD+R happen to be produced by Ricoh)
Ritek G03/G04-Ritek is tough because you have to break it up by the generation (some are much better than others). The G03/G04 Riteks are a very popular cost-effective choice. They are excellent for compatibility and usually give decent error rate scans. If you live in the UK, I really recommend these since they are significantly cheaper than Taiyo Yuden in that location. I also recommend sticking with Ritek/Ridata for best results (there are some B-Grade Ritek discs under other labels) This is for DVD-R.
Okay, now we get down into the "so-so" and crappy category. These are manufacturers/dyes that I DO NOT recommend. Not only are they hit and miss from individual to individual, they also produce very erratic error rate scans. It's hard to get consistency for both categories with these manufacturers.
CMC Magnetics-Hit and Miss for compatibility and media durability. You can usually find them on Memorex, TDK, Maxell, Imation, Khypermedia, ect. As mentioned above, that doesn't mean that the discs listed above are always CMC Mag but there is a good chance that they are. This stands true for DVD-R and DVD+R.
Prodisc-At one time these were heralded as a cheaper alternative to Ritek G03/G04, but after that there were enough hit and miss results with these that they quickly fell in with the likes of CMC Mag. You can often find this manufacturer on Memorex, Khypermedia, ect. This stands true for DVD-R and DVD+R.
Ritek G05/M02/R02/R03-These are all the low-end Ritek dyes for both DVD-R and DVD+R. Unfortunately the G05 don't have the reputation of their G03/G04 predecessors. Like CMC they are hit and miss (work great for some, complete crap for others). M02 seems to be Ritek G04's evil twin. It is a 4x Ritek DVD-R dye but it has caused all sorts of problems for people. Thankfully it doesn't show up very often. R02 and R03 are Ritek DVD+R dyes and are a far cry from the quality of their Ricoh counterparts.
Optodisc-Like all of the others they are hit and miss for compatibility and error rate scans. This is true for both DVD-R and DVD+R
Princo-These are just about the bottom of the barrel for compatibility and error rate scans. Plenty of stories of people who have had whole stacks of these quit working on them after less than 2 years of use (despite taking the best care of them).
Keep in mind that the Samsung drive will almost certainly require you to adjust the booktype/bitsetting option to DVD-ROM before you can get any DVD+R to work on them. This allows the disc to be read more like a factory pressed disc. This only applies for DVD+R though and you don't need to worry about it if you have a Phillips or Thomson drive in your XBOX. Not all burners support the booktype/bitsetting feature, so you will need to look into that. Some will do it with a firmware update. Check out rpc1.org for firmware updates.
I hope this helps you guys out and saves ya some money, good luck.
Edited by jesterrace777, 07 January 2005 - 10:13 PM.