Shopping Advice on DVD players: buying guide

by : Subhash



Key features of DVD Players

Multi-region playersFilm studios, keen to protect release dates, price differentials and the amount of information given in certain markets, originally imposed a constraint on DVD Players by restricting which countries DVDs play in. All pre-recorded DVDs have one of six regional codes and region-locked DVD Players can only play DVDs from the same region. 

DVD typesIn addition to regional format variation, DVD formats can vary in other ways. Common formats are DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD Ram. Not all DVD players can handle all the formats - so it is worth checking before you buy which format it is that you will most likely use.

Multi-disc playersIf you're going to use your DVD player and associated sound system to play your CDs think about a multi-disc player. Sometimes referred to as DVD Jukeboxes they can store multiple DVDs or CDs.

DVD audioAny DVD player will play CDs but some will play newer types of audio disc (DVD-Audio or SA-CD) which offer better sound quality than a standard CD. Only more expensive DVD players and hi-fi equipment are compatible with these discs.

Digital surround soundUtilizes the information on the DVD to provide sound quality almost equal to cinema sound. This is accomplished by converting the audio track into signals for each individual speaker - usually five speakers and one sub-woofer used for low frequency effect. Dolby Digital and DTS are two popular surround sound formats.

VCD playbackA popular movie format in Asia, Video CDs or VCDs are cheaper and lower quality than DVDs. They are stored on standard CDs, which means they do not have room for extra features. Many DVD players also play VCD Playback movies.

Display photosCertain DVD players can also display digital photographs on your TV. These must be stored on a compatible disc.

ResumeIf you are going to view your discs repeatedly, the ability to resume where you left off can save a lot of searching. Multi-disc resume means that the player will remember where to start on up to 30 discs.

BookmarkingBookmarks allow you to store favourite scenes or places in a disc. More expensive players allow you to store bookmarks for several discs and remember them even if the disc is removed.

Connections

Component videoDVDs are encoded in component video. If you have a TV with component video input, buy a DVD Player with component video output. Then connect the player and the TV with a three-wire component video cable. Before buying a player with component video output make sure you understand the subtle difference between component progressive and component interlaced.

S-video connectionThis is the next best thing to component video and is an option on DVD Players that do not have component output and TVs that do not have component input. You may need a separate cable for this but the picture difference should be worth it.

SCART leadsA common form of connection used in the UK is the SCART lead. This handles both audio and video signals. SCART connections are common on DVD players and newer TVs. Gold plated SCART leads give a better connection. A SCART connection will give you a better picture than S-Video and is close to component standard. SCART cables are not usually included with players.

Analog RCA connectionsAvailable on almost all DVD Players this connection, while not producing results quite as good as others, will give you better pictures than your old VCR and, importantly, will connect DVD players to older televisions that don't have SCART connections.

Audio connectorsDVD players, especially the more expensive models, can have many audio outputs. Outputs can include phono, digital coaxial and digital optical. If you are connecting to a separate hi-fi system this can be a very important feature.

Progressive scanThe newest buzzword is progressive scan in the DVD Player market and while more expensive players include it, it can't actually be used unless you have a digital TV. With it your picture can be refreshed 60 times per second which makes for a sharperFree Web Content, almost flicker free picture and is better than anything delivered by the alternative interlaced scanning method.