Any way to isolate problem (media/burner/player)?

I’ve been writing first to DVD-RW for over a year now. Until a couple of days ago, What I saw on the -RW is what I would get on the DVD-R and the resultant DVD-Video. However, after re-doing a project that has some freezing problems (when played on an Audiovox player) I decided to try it on a different DVD player (Panasonic DMR-E20). The -RW (a new Fuji just out of the box) played fine there, so I burned a DVD-Video from the file and it played fine on both DVD players.

I of course immediately suspected the -RW media and burned another -RW. This time I used a different brand and a used disc that I had used several times before with perfect results. I got the exact same results (doesn’t play on the Audiovox but does on the Panasonic).

I moved on from the completed project and burned another -RW on a totally different project and got exactly the same experience as described above. Since the DVD-Video plays fine on all players that I’ve tried so far, there’s not a really great problem. It’s just that I now can’t trust my trial burns on -RW media.

I see several variables here:

  • The brand of DVD-RW used
  • Product variability among the same brand
  • The DVD players used
  • The DVD writer (Panasonic 521)
  • The Writing software
  • The DVD-R blanks used
  • -RW media as a whole are not as robust as DVD-R

How can I determine where the problem lies? I’m thinking that it may be an inferior DVD player (the Audiovox) that is beginning to go bad, but the Audiovox plays the DVD-Video fine, and has no problems playing anything else that I have in the house.

I hate to go back to the old days of making DVD-R coasters (when I had a Panasonic 321 that didn’t burn to -RW media). However, I now can’t trust my -RW results (they’re all bad). Can anyone recommend a procedure for determining the root of my newly acquired, but consistent, problem? I’d also be interested if many other users find that -RW results don’t match with what they get when burning to DVD-Rs.