The War Between the FormatsIf you thought you couldn’t get by without your DVD player, wait until you see a movie shown on a high-definition DVD player. The difference is stunning! Now that high-definition DVD players are on the market at last, why not go out and buy one? Two reasons – high prices, and the war between the two incompatible formats – HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Prices on high def start at about $500, while the Blu-Ray models are around $1000. It’s possible that one of these formats won’t survive their ongoing battle, and you might just be out of luck if you buy a player that works on the losing format.

Those old enough to remember a similar war between BETA and VHS video formats might note that you can still find VHS video cassette players, while their BETA counterparts are only found beneath cobwebs or on basement floors. Thus, a little patience might serve you well. However, if you can’t wait to own your own high-definition DVD player, this article will help you make your choice and also shed light on the standard DVD players available.

The New DVD Players – What’s Are the Choices?

You’ve noticed that the prices of DVD players have come tumbling way down. Almost everybody has at least one player and at current prices it’s not uncommon for households to have two or three. If you choose to stay with a standard DVD player and wait for high-definition prices to fall, which they inevitably will, we highly recommend you choose a progressive scan model. This shouldn’t present a problem, because almost all the new DVD players feature progressive scan technology.

Progressive scan is so named because it implements a progressive scanning tube to send information to each pixel on a screen sequentially (from left to right, top to bottom) to create the image. The 720p (the p stands for progressive) is a progressive-scanning standard. Progressive scan creates a sharper, clearer picture than interlaced scanning found on older model DVD players. You’ll find progressive scan players in single and multiple-disc versions.

For obvious reasons, the single disc players are less expensive than the multi-disc machines. You might also want to consider a portable player if you’re a frequent traveler.

HD-DVD and Blu-Ray

The War Between the FormatsJust in case you can’t wait to get your hands on a high definition DVD player, here’s some information you can use about HD DVD and Blu Ray products.

As we mentioned earlier, the two formats are locked in what looks as a winner-take-all battle for supremacy. Huge manufacturers have already chosen sides. Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Dell, HP and Philips are in the Blu Ray camp, while Toshiba, NEC are the main players on the HD-DVD team. The formats have their similarities and differences. Both use blue laser technology, which is capable of reading data that’s densely packed onto a standard size disc. While HD-DVD can hold as much as 30GB of data – equivalent to a full-length high-def movie on a pre-recorded double layer disc, Blue-ray can hold up to 50GB.

Compare these values to the approximately 9GB limit for today’s double-layer DVD discs. As far as image quality is concerned, the experts seem to be evenly split. Both Blue-ray and HD-DVD players show high-definition images in all their splendor. Generally, critics can find little difference in image quality between the two formats. Bottom line? Blu-Ray offers a significant storage advantage, while HD-DVD is quite a bit cheaper.

View Complete Selection of DVD Players

Features that Make a Difference

Although the market is flooded with dirt-cheap DVD players, not all come with the features you need to get the most rewarding viewing experience.

But is it the Right Time to Buy a High-Def Player?

Who Will Win the Format War?  Blu-Ray or HD-DVD?
features you should look for when buying a new DVD players.
Aspect Ratio Control

DVD movies come in a variety of formats. If your DVD player has aspect ratio control you can choose between standard 4:3 aspect and wide screen 16:9 that gives you a more cinematic view

Picture Control Features

A good DVD player will give you a great deal of control over the picture. Picture zoom lets you zoom in on a specific frame. If your player has black level adjustment you can coax more detail from the dark parts of the screen images, while multi-angle capability lets you view frames from different angles. Please note that not all DVD movies will allow you to use these features.

Chapter Preview and Chapter Gallery

With Chapter Preview you can actually scan the first few seconds of each section of the DVD until you find what you’re looking for. You’ll find this feature indispensable if you want to point out something specific – an unforgettable scene or a part of the movie where you might have missed some of the dialogue or nuance. Chapter Gallery will show you thumbnails of a particular section or beginning of a chapter.

The Right Connections

To get the full measure of your DVD player’s entertainment potential, you must provide the best connections. Composite-video connections produce excellent images, however not in the sharpest possible detail. For the best, most realistic picture quality, we highly recommend you purchase a player that includes an S-video input. S-video separates the signal’s black and white from the color, giving you clearer detail and fewer flaws in the color. Component-video, which might be missing from some of the least expensive DVD players, provides an even better picture than S-video, because it splits the color signal and gives you a wider range of color. Some higher end players feature Digital Video Interface (DVI) and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). These connections are used with digital TVs that have corresponding inputs. DVI is an excellent method to deliver video digitally and is features on most HDTV tuners and HDTV-ready TVs. HDMI is the gold standard, though, when it comes to providing the best quality video and audio via a single cable. HDMI can send high-def video signals (HDTV) as well as surround sound, to offer a complete cinematic experience.

The Bottom Line

If you can’t fit a high-definition or Blu-Ray player into your budget, wait a little while and the prices will come down. Also consider that because Blu-Ray and High-Def formats are incompatible, movies that are specially made for one format won’t work with the other. At the very least, look for a player that features progressive scan technology – you may pay a little extra, but the enhanced picture quality is worth it. If you’re using your DVD player as a music resource as well as a movie-viewing machine, we suggest you choose a multi-disc model. Also be sure you have the best connection possibilities. Almost all of the new DVD players are fully equipped to match the basic connectors on your television, but if you’ve got an HDTV or will upgrade soon, make sure your new DVD player has DVI or HDMI connections. It’s also a good idea to buy a machine that’s compatible with a wide variety of formats. Some models can even read JPEG image files from your digital camera, giving you the ability to create slide shows. And some DVD players have built-in card readers that support an array of memory cards.