DVD Buying Guide
DVD players are a simple enhancement to your home entertainment system. They make movies look great, and provide better image and sound quality. Of all the DVD-type players, Blu-rays are known for having the best image quality; however, with some simple additions, DVD players can definitely compete. Twice as good as a VHS player, a DVD player gives better resolution, dual sided/dual layer discs, and options for viewing in widescreen or letterbox format. DVD players offer options for sound too, CD-quality sound and several configurations of Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a DVD Player
Should I buy a DVD player or a Blu-ray player? Are you trying take advantage of every aspect of your HDTV? Blu-ray players have a higher resolution than DVD players, but DVD players can upconvert so they can produce a higher resolution. The DVD player still sends the same digital signal to the TV, but with HDMI cables the player will send cleaner signals to the TV, giving your image and sound a boost.
Can I play CDs and DVDs on my player?
What if I still need a VHS player too? Easy solution, a combination VHS and DVD player. The combination units have many features that make them very enticing. They can play CDs, have a better resolution than VHS only players, and some have a DVD burner option so you can record your favorite shows.
I have so many VHS tapes, is a DVD player for me? The same DVD/VHS combination unit will be the best option for you. Make sure you get the DVD recorder combo unit. This will enable you to record the VHS tapes onto a DVD. Not only will you be able to record VHS to DVD, you will also be able to record programming from TV to DVD.
Is a portable DVD player right for me? Do you travel a lot or would you like to have it in the car? Then a portable DVD player is the choice for you. They are small enough to take most places and fit on a lap. They can be mounted in cars, boats, or most vehicles.
Do I need to buy additional cables?
HDMI cables are not all the same. They are constructed of different materials, have varying lengths, and some are rated for the signal quality they must maintain over long lengths. HDMI cables must be tested at an authorized HDMI testing center to be able to carry the HDMI name. Testing centers are very strict with the specifications that the cables must have.
There are a few different types of HDMI cables: HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4.
HDMI 1.3: Bitrate increases on the 1.3 as well as the bandwith. This
cable can support Deep Color whereas the previous cables could not. CEC
capacitance limits were changed, CEC commands for timer control were brought
back-with added audio commands, and the sRGB quantization range was clarified.
1080p: This is one of the more important terms to know when buying a DVD player. Usually, the resolution is described in numbers and letters. 1080p, 720p, and 1080i are the numbers that are associated with High Definition TV (HDTV). The numbers stand for the lines of pixels in the screen. The total number of pixels is measured by multiplying the lines of pixels (horizontal and vertical). For instance, when a TV is 1080p, it is actually 1920 (horizontal lines of pixels) X 1080 (vertical lines of pixels) = 2,073,600 total pixels. The letters associated with the numbers "P" and "I" stand for progressive and interlaced.
16:9 and 4:3, also known as Aspect Ratio: An aspect ratio of an image is its width divided by its height. In terms of a DVD player, the aspect ratio is how the image is altered to fit the TVs aspect ratio. 16:9 is the universal standard for High-Definition TVs and 4:3 is the universal standard for standard definition TVs.
3-2 pull down processing: When video based movies are converted to progressive scan they need some modifications to flow without interruption. The fluidity becomes uninterrupted when extra frames are created and two original frames are combined.
Composite Video: The brightness and color signals are combined into one signal.
DivX: Is the brand name of the company that created a technology similar to mp3s. With DivX technology, a large video file can be compressed into a considerably smaller file.
DVD Audio A: Audio format for sending High-Fidelity audio from a DVD to a TV or receiver.
Frame: When movies are made they are a series of still shots (frames). If you hit pause, you would see a "frame" of the movie.
HDCD-High Definition Compatible Digital: These CDs have a patented encode-decode process that is owned by Microsoft which improves the audio quality over a standard CD.
HDCP-High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection: A security function that requires compatibility between the sender (DVD) and the receiver (TV). Compatibility must be built-in to both the sender and the receiver.
HD DVD: Similar to Blu-ray, HD-DVD offers full HD video and better sound than a regular DVD
JPEG CD: Storing photographs on CD in JPEG format enables many photos to be compressed for easier storage and transfer.
MPEG-Moving Pictures Experts Group: Set standards for compression of audio and video.
Optical Digital Output--Digital Output: Optical Digital Output provides the second option for connecting a DVD player and a TV/Receiver for sound. The Optical Digital Output is made with fiber optics and therefore eliminates interference.
Pan and Scan: Enables widescreen video to fit standard a standard TV's aspect ratio. This is the same thing that happens when VHS tapes are played on a TV (message appears "formatted to fit your screen".
Parental Lockout: When the DVD has a rating capability, the DVD player could read the rating and either play or not play the DVD based on the guidelines employed by the user.
PCM-Pulse Code Modulation: This is the audio signal that is sent from the DVD player to the TV. Once the signal hits the TV the audio is amplified and played on the speakers.
Progressive scan: Creates a film-like image on the TV. They give the image a higher screen resolution than interlaced DVD players of the past.
Recordable DVD: A recordable DVD is a blank DVD. DVDR and DVDRW are both able to have images and sound transferred from a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or DVD burner onto the disc. The DVDR can only be written once, and DVDRW can be written multiple times.
Region Codes: This is a safeguard for the movie industry. DVD players have region codes built-in so that DVDs from other regions can't be played. This is a safety measure for the movie industry to keep movies released in one region from being played too soon or at all in a different region.
Scaler: Converts the video signal received from the DVD to a resolution other than it original format. Blu-ray players have similar properties.
Signal to Noise Ratio: Compares the level of audio/video signal to the level of background noise.
Super Audio CD (SACD): SACD is a technology developed by Sony and Phillips giving CDs more detailed sound than a normal CD.
Video Up conversion: Some DVD players have the ability to convert lower image resolution to a higher one by surrounding existing pixels with additional ones.