How to Choose a DVD Player/Recorder - dummies

How to Choose a DVD Player/Recorder

By Danny Briere, Pat Hurley

When choosing a DVD player/recorder for a home theater, you’ll find a huge array of advanced features. As you shop for your DVD player/recorder, consider your budget and how complex (High end or basic?) you want your home theater to be. Here are some key items to put on your checklist as you start shopping.

  • *Connections on the back: At a minimum, you need a DVD player featuring a component video connection. For audio, you’ll find two kinds of digital connectors (for Dolby Digital and DTS digital surround sound) — the coaxial and optical (or Toslink) connections. Make sure the connectors on your DVD player match those on your A/V receiver.

    Most new DVD players have moved on to digital video outputs. If your display supports an HDMI connection, consider a DVD player that has one of these outputs.

  • *Single or multidisc capability: DVD players come in single-disc and multidisc models. For just watching movies, a single-disc player is fine. If you plan to use your DVD player as your only CD player, consider paying a bit more for a multidisc player that can provide hours of background music during, for example, a party.

  • *Progressive or interlaced: The video industry is moving from interlaced video toward progressive video. If you have an HDTV or other progressive-scan monitor, you want a DVD player that offers progressive-scan capabilities. Most DVD players sold today have progressive-scan functionality.

  • Upconversion: Many new DVD players can upconvert a DVD to a higher resolution for playback on your HDTV display. Essentially, an upconverting DVD player gives you a simulated high-definition version of the video on your DVD. Just as important, an upconverting DVD player uses HDMI outputs to send this picture to your HDTV display — you get the benefits of a digital connection and a picture that’s designed for a high-definition display.

  • Support for other formats: Many DVD players now support online video file formats such as DivX or Xvid. This can come in handy if you’re downloading HDTV video clips from the Internet using these formats — you can burn DVDs on your computer and play them back on your DVD player.

  • *Surround-sound decoder: If you’re starting your home theater from scratch, consider a home theater receiver (or separate components decoder) that can decode (at a minimum) Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Digital surround-sound signals. If you’re adding a DVD player to an existing home theater with an older receiver that doesn’t support digital surround sound, buy a DVD player with a built-in surround-sound decoder.

  • *Audio disc support: All DVD players can play back store-bought, prerecorded CDs. Not all, however, can play back homemade CD-R or CD-RW discs, nor can many DVD players play back CDs containing MP3 music files.

  • Recording capability: DVD recording is becoming a truly consumer-friendly technology.

  • *DVD extras: Some DVDs have alternate camera angles — so you can click a button on the remote control and see the film from a different character’s perspective. You can also find DVD players with special features, such as a digital zoom that lets you enlarge part of the picture on your screen, or a frame-by-frame fast forward.

  • *All-in-one functionality: The DVD players with built-in surround-sound decoding are a first step in this direction, but if space is limited in your home theater, you may want to take the full leap — DVD players and A/V receivers in an all-in-one slim chassis.