DVD Player Buying Tips
DVD players get their name from the type of disc they most commonly play: a digital video disc, or DVD. These 4.75- inch discs can store 8.5 gigabytes of data on one side, which amounts to 133 minutes of video. DVDs offer excellent video quality that starts out as digital, but must be translated to an analog signal to play on analog TV sets. Even with the conversion, DVDs play with 540 lines of horizontal resolution--more than twice the resolution of a VHS tape-and the high quality digital sound can be played through virtually any home theater speaker configuration you can dream up.
In addition to playing DVD movies (which are now widely available for rental and can be purchased for $10-$20), DVD players play CDs, MP3-encoded CD-Rs and CD-RWs, video CDs, and a few will play DVDs-Audio. The newest higher-end players also play SuperAudio CDs, a new high quality CD format that should become widely available in the next year or so.
How To Shop For DVD Players
DVD players range in price from $100 for a basic, no-frills player from a lesser-known manufacturer to more than $1,000 for a top-of-the-line home theater-ready player. But you don't have to break the bank to get high-end features. $100 players usually offer high-speed forward and reverse scanning, digital audio and video outputs, and the ability to play multiple disc formats. In the $200 to $400 range, you'll find players that offer progressive scan (for HDTV compatibility), 5.1 channel stereo outputs, built in Dolby Digital Decoders, and top quality audio and video processors. In the over $1,000 range, you're getting all the above, plus the best hardware and design available, and things like a copper shielded chassis to protect the device from all the other equipment in your home theater rack.
As of right now, DVD technology is pretty much set. Manufacturers keep bringing out new models each year, but the basic hardware stays more or less the same. What you get instead are ever lower prices, compatibility with new formats, innovative design, and smaller, sleeker form factors. For those who care more about their budgets than about being on the leading edge of new technology, there is a great opportunity here: you may be able to get an excellent deal on soon-to-be discontinued models that have all the features you want without the premium on newness.
Home Theater Systems RatingsToday more and more families are picking up home theater systems for their entertaiment rooms. It’s really no wonder why — these systems in a box quickly and conveniently link surround sound to the TV, sometimes with a built-in DVD or Blu-ray player.