DVD Players

What to Look for in DVD Players

If you're in the market to upgrade your VHS player to a DVD player, you're not alone. The DVD technology has overtaken VHS as the most popular home entertainment device in the last few years.

DVD versions of films and television shows that you can rent or buy have many more features added to them than the same thing on a VHS tape. You can also select to view the DVD feature in a different language, use subtitles, or even director commentary playing over the feature. DVDs also provide the ability to pause, scan and skip to a different "chapter" in the feature, unlike VHS. The DVD format has a much clearer and sharper picture than VHS, too. Additionally, DVD players can also play music CDs. These days, DVD players with good features can be had for as little as $50 or less, so it's a good time to buy.

Convinced? Here are a few things to look for in a DVD player.

  • Connections. Find out what the connections are on your home theater system. Write down what the inputs are (for audio it's usually coaxial or optical, for video look for S-video, composite-video or component-video inputs) and make sure they match up with the DVD players you're considering buying.
  • Digital sound. If you have a home theater system or stereo hooked up to your TV, look for digital theater system (DTS) or Dolby Digital audio encoding on the DVD player. This way you'll get great sound along with the great picture that DVD offers.
  • Compatibility. If you want to play homemade DVDs or CDs on the player, be sure it's compatible with whatever your format is (DVD-R, DVD-RAM, or DVD-RW)... it's recommended that you even bring a homemade DVD with you to test and see if it works on the DVD player model you're considering.
  • Remote Control. Take a look at a DVD player's remote control and make sure you like its interface. Are the buttons easy to push? Are they large enough? Are they easy to understand and easy to use?
  • Progressive scan. If your TV is progressive-scan-compatible (most digital or flat-screen TVs are, but the older cathode ray or CRT kind aren't) you can really improve your picture with a progressive scan player. Even if you have an older TV, if you plan on getting a digital TV at some point, it's smart to get a progressive-scan-compatible DVD player now so you'll be prepared in the future.

Now, armed with the basics of what to look for, you're ready to shop! The prices vary over a great range, so know your budget. Once you find a brand and model you like, be sure to comparison shop. DVD player retailers are usually very price-competitive.

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