How to Play DVDs on an HDTV - dummies

By Danny Briere, Pat Hurley

DVD provides a great picture when you play it back on an HDTV (using a progressive-scan DVD player), but isn’t a true high-definition video source. DVD doesn’t give you the same quality of picture that a full-on HDTV signal (coming in over a broadcast television signal or from your cable or satellite provider) can give.

Why don’t traditional DVDs “do” HDTV?

  • HDTV wasn’t finalized and on the market when the DVD was developed, so DVD was designed to work with the TVs of the time (which are still the majority of televisions today).

  • HDTV requires a ton of digital data. Using the traditional NTSC signal, you can fit a two-hour movie comfortably onto a DVD, but you wouldn’t be able to fit more than a fraction of that movie onto a DVD if it was encoded as an HDTV signal.

Upconversion is one way to get DVD players to produce something like HDTV images, but the video being fed from these players into your display is not true HDTV. To get true HDTV, manufacturers have to go beyond the traditional DVD. Blu-ray represents that next step in bringing high definition to discs.

Until you’re ready to invest in a Blu-ray disc player, you can get a good, widescreen experience with a DVD player that can upconvert with an HDMI connection to your HDTV. To get the most out of your HDTV, however, consider Blu-ray.