How To Choose a DVD player

Many people buy DVD players without paying much attention to the important parameters that affect its performance. Be sure to select a DVD player that has your choice of features.

  1. Buy a Blu-ray disc player if you can. The blu-ray discs store excellent quality pictures and music as their recording contains more information than ordinary DVD recording. It is better to buy an HDTV and a blu-ray player, if you can afford it. Its prices are falling sharply.

    If you own a standard analog TV, then the standard basic DVD player is sufficient. The analog TV accepts analog inputs and cannot display high quality digital information. When you buy an HDTV you can simply up-convert the existing standard DVD player. The up-conversion process (or upscaling) enhances the standard DVD signal to a high-definition format. The resulting signal gives almost HD [High Definition] signal quality.

  2. Look for common formats. Modern DVD players can play a wide range of media files. The common formats are DVD-R/RW, VCD (Video CD), DVD-audio, Audio-CD, MP3, WMA(Windows Media Audio), JPEG pictures, MPEG movies, DivX, etc. Latest players have HD-CD (High Definition CD) compatibility. HD-CD can be played in ordinary CD players or DVD players with HD-CD compatibility. But it is better to play HDCD in DVD players.
  3. Buy a DVD recorder to record. If you record programs or images from camcorder or video camera, then you need a DVD recorder. DVD players are available as plain players or with recorders.
  4. Check region code.  It is a method to control the distribution of disks in the different zones or regions of the world. The DVD has a region code and that must match with the code of the player. Most of the DVD players can be used in a particular region only (Code 0: worldwide; Code1: USA, Canada, Bermuda; Code 2: Europe, Japan, South Africa, and Middle-East region; Code 3:  South-East Asia region, South Korea; Code 4: Central and South America, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, and Caribbean region; Code 5: Former Soviet Union, India, North Korea, South Asia, and Africa region; Code 6: China region). There are a few multi-region DVD players that can be used in more than one region. Check details of DVD region code. The region codes of Blu-ray disc is different from the ordinary DVD players. Blu-ray Disc Region codes
  5. Confirm picture and sound quality. The picture and sound quality of a DVD is better than a CD. If you watch low quality pictures on a large size TV or projector, the images may not be that crisp and clear. So when you purchase a player ensure that it is of high quality. An ordinary player that records with 10-bit processing gives moderate quality pictures. Play some best quality DVDs to ascertain the quality of the player.
  6. Buy a multi-disc player. The players are available as single-disc or multi-disc. Multi-disc players can keep more than one disc, like five or six discs, or even more than 300 discs! Usually single disc players are enough for normal use. If you have a multi-disc player, you can switch between various discs without taking out and changing the disc every time.
  7. Travel with portable players. There are portable DVD players that come with built-in screens. You can use it to enjoy movies or music on the move. The screen size of portable players is small; however, some portable players can be connected to TV or other display devices in addition to the built-in screen.
  8. Availability of memory slot. It helps to directly insert memory cards into the DVD player. You can play music or watch pictures from memory cards.
  9. Look for USB interface. USB [Universal Serial Bus] interface is a useful feature. It is a common interface for many digital devices. If the player has USB port, you can directly connect USB devices. You can also connect other USB compatible units like MP3 players, Digital Camera, Camcorder, etc., to the player.
  10. Ensure common outputs. The common outputs are component, composite, s-video, DVI or HDMI. Of these, the first three are analog outputs and the latter ones are digital. The player must have digital outputs to connect your player to digital TV.
  11. Test the remote control. The remote control must be handy and easy to operate. A good remote control has the buttons logically grouped and well-marked. If you are using the remote control in dark rooms, then choose illuminated ones.
  12. Understand the display formats. A standard analog TV displays the video in interlaced form. The interlaced system shows an image in two passes. The interlaced formats are specified with the letter ‘i’. The ‘progressive’ scan displays an image in a single pass and this type of scan is indicated by the letter ‘p’. The TV has different display formats classified as standard, enhanced and high definition. The standard is 480i and the enhanced is 480p.The HD formats are 720p, 1080i and 1080p.
    • 720p has 720x1280 pixels with 720 lines and progressive scan.
    • 1080i has 1080x1920 pixels with 1080 lines and interlaced scan.
    • 1080p has 1080x1920 pixels with 1080 lines and progressive.

    Among these, 1080p is the best while both 1080i and 720p give almost same resolution.

    The up-conversion process converts the standard DVD signal to the HD format. You need a HDTV to view the up-converted signal. The up-converted DVD player can output video in the standard format also.

    In addition, you need a HDMI connector to connect the blu-ray or up-converted DVD player signal to HDTV. If the TV has a DVI connector then you need to buy a DVI-to-HDMI adaptor. Generally, the manufacturers do not provide a HDMI cable.

  13. Upconvert the DVD player. The upconvertion DVD player converts the low resolution images to apparent high resolution ones. The upconvertion process predicts the new pixels near the existing pixels of the image and fills them to look like a high resolution picture. It is not truly a high definition picture, but it appears like that. The true high definition images can be obtained using the blu-ray player.
  14. Understand the audio features.

    • Dolby-digital (AC-3),DTS: It allows playing multi-channel digital surround sound effects. The DVD or CD must be Dolby digital encoded. Most DVD players can produce multi-channel sound output. The common format is 5.1 channels. In a 5.1 system there are 5 speakers with an additional sub-woofer. The number after the dot indicates the number of sub-woofers in the system. All Dolby Digital encoded programs need not carry 5.1 channels; single channel (mono) sound can also be encoded as Dolby Digital. DTS ("Digital Theater Systems") is also a digital surround sound format similar to Dolby Digital.
    • Dolby digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS-ES: These are multi-channel digital surround sound formats. It uses 6.1 channel system with an additional surround channel at the back compared to Dolby Digital.
    • Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD, Dolby Digital True HD: It is a 7.1 channel surround format with 7 audio channels and a LFE channel. The High Definition media like Blu-ray discs are often  encoded with ‘Dolby Digital Plus’ or ‘DTS-HD’.
  15. Understand video/audio connections. Ensure that there are necessary audio and video connectors for the player.

    The three common video connectors of any DVD player are 'composite', 'S-video', and 'component.'

    The common audio connectors are optical, coaxial or both. These connectors can deliver Dolby Digital or DTS signals.

    High-end players have IEEE 1394 jack (also called Firewire or iLink) for 5.1 channel connections.

    You need a HDMI connector to hook up a Blu-ray or up-converted DVD player to the TV to get the best quality picture and sound. The HDMI carries high quality audio and video information. If your TV or DVD player do not have a HDMI connector then use the component video interface.  You won't get  the 1080p  picture quality using this connection, but the 720p and 1080i are possible. If you want to connect camcorders to DVD recorders, check some of these options. For DVD or hard disk camcorders, USB connectors is the better option. To connect Mini DV camcorders , look for IEEE 1394 connector.

    Video connections:

    You may find four different standard connectors for video outputs.

    • HDMI [High Definition Multimedia Interface]: It is the digital connector that is best suited for High-Definition [HD] signals and gives excellent quality output. HDMI can carry both audio and video signals whereas the DVI connector carries only video signals.
    • Component video output: It gives better picture quality and color reproduction. It consists of green, blue and red colored slots. It requires three 75-ohm coaxial cables of the same type for connecting between the RCA jacks with matching colors. It is denoted as “Y Pb Pr” or “Y Cb Cr”.
    • S-video: This connection gives good picture quality, but color clarity is not as good as Component video. Plug the same color connector to the matching one in the receiver display unit - Television /Projector/ AV receiver. Remember that S-video does not work with progressive scan video signal. The S-video is a 4 pin Mini DIN connector.
    • Composite video: Lowest quality among these. Opt for this only if other connectors are not available. It is a yellow colored 75-ohm coaxial cable connected between RCA jacks. It is the standard analog video connector. This connector also doesn’t support progressive scan video signal.

    Audio connections:

    • Analog stereo output: If your AV receiver does not have a Dolby digital or DTS decoder, use the analog stereo output.
    • Analog 5.1 channel: Analog output of DVD player to be connected to the 5.1 input of the AV receiver. Most of the HD-DVD players have built-in Dolby and DTS decoders.
    • Digital optical and Digital coaxial audio output: If you have an AV receiver that has digital coaxial audio input or digital optical input, then use this connector to get the surround sound.

  16. Choose other features:

    • Zoom function: It allows enlarging a part of the picture in steps during normal working or slow motion playback.
    • Headphone jack: You can plug in your headphones to this connector and enjoy the sound without disturbing others.
    • Sleep timer: It is feature that helps to switch off the player after a time a time set by you. You can set the time using the sleep timer option and leave or sleep so that the player will automatically switched off at the time you had set in it.
    • Front AV controls: A/V [Audio/Video] inputs allow connecting various types of video/ audio inputs like camcorders, video camera, digital camera, game console, etc. It provides different input connectors to connect these devices. Front A/V control means these input connectors are provided at the front side of the player.  It is convenient if the player has the common input connectors at the front side.
    • Picture control: It helps to view the picture with optimum quality.
    • Parental control/child lock: It disables the player from unauthorized use, especially children.
    • Versatile scan and search: It helps to search tracks of the disk according to titles or time.
    • Progressive scan: An image is displayed in a single pass compared to that in two passes of ‘interlaced scan.’ The progressive scan is better than interlaced scan.
    • Aspect ratio: It is the ratio of the width of the picture to its height. The common formats are 4:3 and 16: 9 (wide-screen). Sometimes you may need to adjust the aspect ratio according to the DVD for better viewing when the picture seems stretched.
    • Dialogue enhancer: It is a facility to increase the volume of the center speaker sound that delivers the dialogue.
    • Sound leveler: This feature automatically adjusts the sound peaks.
  17. Fix the budget and choose the brand. Now, decide the features and the budget. The same manufacturer makes different models to suit your needs.  Search for the best deals of your choice. When you choose the brand, look for the local availability of service facility also. Try to buy from authorized dealer and get a warranty. Ask for free demonstration of the player and get familiar with the operation. It must suit your TV or other devices you like to connect. There are so many brands available in the market. Here is a list of some popular brands: Sony, Oppo Digital, Philips, LG, Samsung, Pioneer, Panasonic, Toshiba, Onkyo, etc.


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