Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > DVD Discussions > DVD & Home Theater Gear
Reload this Page >

features to be aware of for dvd players?

DVD & Home Theater Gear Discuss DVD and Home Theater Equipment.

features to be aware of for dvd players?

Old 09-09-99, 03:41 AM
  #1  
Cool New Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: ewa beach HI USA
Posts: 42
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
im new to dvd and currently watching my growing collection on my computer, i am interested in purchasing a player but am not sure what features are important to look for, are there important features that i will not get by buying a bargain basement player, slow motion and not having to flip the disc half way through the movie is important to me, could someone help point me in the right direction, i would really appreciate it!
Old 09-09-99, 05:21 AM
  #2  
Uber Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Posts: 16,232
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
jst315,

Whether you have to flip the disc over or not is a function of the DVD. There are a few titles that are "flippers" (like Goodfellas), but most DVD titles manage to keep the movie all on one side of the disc or span multiple discs.

As a result, currently, I don't believe there are any players that will play both sides of a DVD without you physically flipping the DVD over to read the other side.

Features to look for:

Video out: all will come with composite (single yellow color coded rca cable from the player to the TV/receiver). You should at least get one with S-Video and component if possible (though I've heard conflicting reports on the suppossed better image quality of component video).

Audio out: all will come with analog 2 channel audio (one red, one white color coded rca cable from the player to the tv/receiver) and a digital audio out. Preferably, you want both a coax and optical (or toslink) digital out for flexibility when you eventually buy a receiver or pre/pro (if you already have a receiver, then you just need to make sure the digital audio connection on the player matches your receiver). There's no difference between the two, except cost and that the coax is reportedly sturdier than the optical.

Some players come with a Dolby Digital Decoder built in. This is only useful if you have a Dolby Digital Ready receiver or pre/pro (should have 6 channel inputs for the 6 different speakers outs from the player (2 front, 2 back, center, sub)).

Also, if you have a reciever already, and it's Digital Ready, you could buy a seperate DD and/or DTS decoder and connect your player (and any other DD source like a CD player or Satellite system) to the decoder and the decoder to the receiver.

Other features:

Will it play CD-Rs? Most players don't as this usually require a second laser in the unit to read CDs and CD Rs (check older model and high end Sony players for this feature). (This has changed as there are a few more players (Pioneer, I believe) that read CDRs now, but I think the Toshiba's are still very picky about this.)

Anamorphic/Enhanced for Widescreen/Enhanced for 16:9 downconversion: Unless you already have or will also purchase a 16:9 TV set your player will have to down convert the enhanced DVDs for your 4:3 (or standard) TV. If you don't already know about how this works click on this link for an explanation. Some players (Toshiba) downconvert by removing every forth line from the image. This can result in a shimmery look to scenes with moving horizontal lines (like stairs, car grilles). Other players (like Sonys) provide an averageing of the lines to create a "better" downconverted image. Some say this makes the image softer, however, beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. A good test of this is the Ronin DVD. Check the opening scene when DeNiro is walking down the steps. You can see the shimmer on the buildings the camera pans across and on the stairs he's walking down. This won't be noticeable on a PC monitor because it is a 16:9 enhanced display. (It's also a progressive display.)

Will it play VCDs? These are mostly used for MPEG1 (Vhs quality) video movies and for bootleg movies and for Karaoke titles. Not all players will play them, and even if it will play a VCD, it may not play a copy of a VCD (this would actually be a CD R).

You may see mention of 96/24 audio out. Don't be too concerned about it as only the really expensive players out put this signal over the digital connection (and they do this by not using the spec. for DVD digital out). You can use it on an analog 2 ch out audio stream, but that's a whole bag of worms I don't want to get into (audiophile stuff). (I think DVD Audio is supposed to change this, but then, it's not out yet, is it? )

Multiple DVD playing: Currently, there are 2 disc (Toshiba 3109), 5 disc (Sony makes one), and 200 disc players (not sure if it's out yet, but soon I think). These (except the 200 disc system) are convenient for demoing the system, multi disc titles (Dances with Wolves DTS, Brazil CE) and showing off. And isn't that part of the fun of owning a HT system? (There are more options available now.)

If you are interested in a 100+ disc system, make sure to get one that can be "daisy-chained" together, as if you've bought enough titles to warrant a 200 disc player, you are most likely going to buy more than 200 DVDs eventually.

Zoom: I've only seen this on the Toshiba 3109 (and 2109) but I think it's a real cool feature. It's especially useful for reading end credits and text/signs in movies that can be hard to make out on a smaller TV set. Also, some people use it to watch letterbox movies in an approximation of pan and scan.

Remote: Unless you have a learning remote or a good universal remote, you will very likely end up using the DVD player remote quite a lot. If you get a chance to look at the remote before you buy, keep in mind that small, close together buttons can be hard to use. And that some kind of button illumination is helpful when watching a movie in the dark. Also, watch out for remotes that use one button for two functions (the 3109 does this: the same button is used for chapter skip forward/backward and for fastforward/reverse; kind of like some cd players).

It's nice to be able to access the menu features from the player itself (sometimes the remote's just too far away ). The 3109 does this to some extent but some players actually come with a seperate set of buttons on the front of the player to control the menu.

Black level: There is a product called Video Essentials (and another called AVIA HT guide, a newer, supposedly better VE) that you can use to calibrate the audio and video of your HT setup. If your player is able to pass a "black signal" or IRE 0 signal to the TV, this will help you when you are calibrating your TV (and yes these things can make a big difference on most any TV, you'd be surprised at how bad the default factory settings for most TVs can be). (AVIA doesn't require a true black to calibrate video displays, so this is no longer a really useful feature. Unless you already own Video Essentials.)

Memory: Some players are able to remember the settings for multiple discs. So that if you were watching a movie with the 5.1 DD track selected and then your wife/s.o. wanted to finish watching a movie with a 2.0 (dolby surround) DD track, you could just remove your disc and pop hers in and it should remember your audio setting when you put your disk back in (you have to select the 5.1 audio track on more DVDs than you would expect, as quite a few default to the 2.0 audio track).

Final notes:

Keep in mind that if your TV doesn't have an S Video or composite video in, you will need to buy a converter from Radio Shack. Normally one would expect to be able to do a pass through trick with the VCR you probably have connected to the TV. But most VCRs support a copy protection scheme known as macrovision that will make your DVDs look funny if you try this.

Also, take a look around www.audioreview.com for user reviews of the various players out there.

Also, here's a link to almost every answer to questions about DVD: Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ.

Did I forget anything?

Probably!

Here's a starting point at least. Hope it helps.

------------------
-David

--edited to add M i c h a e l's correction to Sony's downconversion method.

[This message has been edited by Blade (edited 12-22-1999).]

--edited to update some of the info above and remove some outdated links

[This message has been edited by Blade (edited November 27, 2000).]
Old 09-09-99, 05:28 AM
  #3  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicago, only a stone's throw from Chicago (even if you throw like a girl)
Posts: 2,457
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Blade,

What a very good post. I am assuming that you didn't write that from scratch. Do you have a link to this? Its very good to use to help people get started.

Bothanspy


------------------
Many Bothan spies died to bring you this information.
Old 09-09-99, 06:04 AM
  #4  
Cool New Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: ewa beach HI USA
Posts: 42
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
BLADE,
Thanks a lot for your insight, its a big help, jeesh you could write a book on this stuff!
Old 09-09-99, 09:58 AM
  #5  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 5,189
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Blade said
Video out: all will come with composite (single yellow color coded rca cable from the player to the TV/receiver). You should at least get one with S-Video and component if possible (though I've heard conflicting reports on the suppossed better image quality of component video).

-----------------------
Excellent post, blade! I just want to add one thing about component video. I have a Magnavox 850 (which is pretty much a Toshiba 3108). It has component outs, and I have them connected to my Toshiba 32". What's nice about component video is that when you are tuning using Video Essentials, you don't have to mess with the Tint control on the TV. It's already perfect, as determined using the blue filter that comes with Video Essentials. In fact, my Toshiba TV doesn't even display Tint in the menu when it is being driven by a component video signal. I know I'm getting the best possible picture with this type of connection.

rick
Old 09-09-99, 03:10 PM
  #6  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Duluth, GA, USA
Posts: 37,782
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you want the best video fidelity, go Component all the way, baby! While others may not be able to tell the difference between s-video and component video, I can, and it's a worthwhile thing to look for when looking for new TVs to view your DVDs with.
Old 09-09-99, 05:45 PM
  #7  
Uber Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Posts: 16,232
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Bothanspy,

Nope. All from memory. That's what happens when you answer so many questions and read so many posts about DVDs! Scary, huh?

jst315,

Glad to be of help!

Some other things I just thought of:

Layer change: Any dual layer or RSDL DVD (usually the data side is gold colored) has a layer change where the laser must change angles to read the next layer. Studios should pick fadeout or black screens to use for the layer change, but they don't always do this. For that reason, you might want to keep in mind how it handles the layer change. I've heard the RCA Proscans do this very well. I'm happy with my Toshiba and don't know about the others.

Start up speed: This is a feature on the latest Panasonics. Once you put the dvd in the tray and hit play the panasonic can be playing before you get back to your chair. This can be nice if you change discs frequently (checking for particular scenes; watching choice movie shots on different discs; or demoing the system using different movies.

DTS vs. DD: Boy, how did I forget this one? DTS can sound better than DD. Some, say that part of this has to do with the care taken during the mastering of the movie's DTS audio. Even still, done right DTS can add to the movie experience (check out DVDFile's DTS reviews of Antz, Apollo 13 for more information).

I like to describe the two this way: Dolby Digital is like your favorite Ice Cream; DTS is like your favorite Ice Cream with your favorite topping on it. Is DTS better, usually, but then DD is almost as good, so it's really a question of what you value more. You won't really know the difference without doing a comparison, and most people just watch the movie.

I don't believe any (maybe one) players support DTS decoding on board, but most new players will output the DTS signal (this is only necessary for DTS video. DTS Cds will play on any player using the digital out to a DTS capable receiver). (The Panasonic A320 does.)

Lastly, you might want to check out Jason Northrup's post about using a DVD Rom drive as your permanent DVD player. You can outfit it with a IR remote control device and defeat macrovision. There are also region crackers for DVD Rom. But DVDRom drives have compatibility problems as well.

rick,

That's interesting. I didn't know that about Video Essentials and component out. Thanks.

Patman,

I wonder if it depends on how well the player outputs the component video and how well the TV handles the signal. This would explain the variety of opinions on this video standard. Of course, it also makes it harder to take advantage of it's enhanced fidelity.

Maybe someday the consumer electronics market will get its standards together.

But probably not!

------------------
-David

--edited to add some DTS comments

[This message has been edited by Blade (edited November 27, 2000).]
Old 09-12-99, 02:23 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: USA
Posts: 934
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Blade:

Just a clarification on your post:

> Some players (Toshiba) downconvert by
> removing every forth line from the image.
> This can result in a shimmery look to
> scenes with moving horizontal lines (like
> stairs, car grilles). Other players (like
> Sonys) remove the lines and then average
> the remaining lines to create a "better"
> downconverted image.


The Sony units do not remove every 4th line,
and then average the remaining lines. They
average *all* the lines.

Great post, BTW.

Best,

Michael


Old 09-15-99, 07:52 PM
  #9  
Cool New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 44
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Blade, does either the TOSHIBa sd2109 or Sd3109 have the optical out for sound or play CDRs?
Old 12-18-99, 03:36 PM
  #10  
Uber Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Posts: 16,232
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
I'm kicking this back up for any last minute Christmas shoppers, and because I somehow missed answering darealbastard's question.

I don't know if you're still reading, but the 2109 has a coax digital out only, the 3109 has both coax and optical, and neither of them will play CDRs.

------------------
-David
Other forum
Old 12-18-99, 07:58 PM
  #11  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Posts: 534
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Blade-
How about dual laser(seperate laser diodes) vs dual focus laser?
A player with separate lasers reduces wear from switching lenses. Also they can play other media(vcd,cd-r). Please correct if this is wrong.

------------------


tjames

My Lists


Old 12-18-99, 07:59 PM
  #12  
DVD Talk Legend
 
JimRochester's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Rochester, NY. USA
Posts: 18,009
Likes: 0
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Just a clarification of the Toshiba zoom. I have heard that there are many without my high moral standardsw and utilize to enhance nude scenes in DVD's. At least so I've heard

------------------
Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation
Jim's DVD Tracker list

Old 12-19-99, 08:12 AM
  #13  
Uber Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Posts: 16,232
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
tjames,

That's a good point, but I think the key advantage of a dual laser is the ability to read CDRs, not the wear and tear on the laser. I imagine, that if you listened to CDs that much, you would probably have a dedicated player.

I'll add that in the next time I write this thing up.

JimRochester,

I have no idea what you're talking about.

------------------
-David
Other forum
Old 12-22-99, 06:00 AM
  #14  
Uber Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Posts: 16,232
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
M i c h a e l,

I added your correction to my original post, thanks.

-------------------

Some more things to think about:

Progressive Scan DVD Players:

While still pretty expensive, these players are going to offer the best image that DVD will ever be capable of short of a line Quadrupler that still costs more than these players alone.

Your regular TV's picture is interlaced. This means that it first draws the odd lines, and then draws the even lines so many times a second. A progressive scan TV (which a Progressive scan DVD will require for Progressive output) is non-interlaced (this term may be more familiar if your are familiar with PC Monitor terminology), meaning that it draws every line in a single pass so many times a second.

This makes for a much more solid, stable looking picture. Here's a link to a review of a progressive scan player over at DVDFile.com.

component video,

Component video outs provide a better picture. I have heard varying reports as to how great a difference it will make. I think it's fair to say that your personal experience with this format will be somewhat dependent on the equipment you use. If the TV and the DVD player do not do a good job of displaying and transfering the component video information, then you won't be too impressed with the difference between component and S video.

In a sense, it seems the difference is similar to DTS (equipment dependent), though the improvement is probably more easily noticed.

Finally, Sony's new 650 player has so many cool features I can't wait to buy my next DVD player (though this won't happen for a while ). Check out this review over at DVDFile. You will be impressed.

------------------
-David
Other forum

Fixed link to Sony 650 at DVDFile.

[This message has been edited by Blade (edited March 03, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Blade (edited November 27, 2000).]
Old 01-29-00, 02:10 PM
  #15  
Uber Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Posts: 16,232
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Just bumping this up.

Anyone have anything they want to add?

------------------
-David
Other forum
Old 01-29-00, 07:52 PM
  #16  
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 184
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Some DVD Player do not have a function to display time remaining. I had a Panasonic A310 that did not have the function to display the time remaining on the disc.
Old 01-29-00, 09:02 PM
  #17  
DVD Talk Ultimate Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 4,583
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The main thing you should make sure is that the output(s) from your DVD player match the input(s) into your TV. In other words if use composite out then you need to use composite in, if you use S Video out you need to have S Video on you TV. Same goes for component output/input.
Old 01-30-00, 04:54 PM
  #18  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: I'm Still Alive in Los Angeles...or am I?
Posts: 27,815
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Blade is a show off
Old 01-31-00, 04:05 AM
  #19  
Uber Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Posts: 16,232
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post




------------------
-David
Other forum
Old 01-31-00, 07:00 PM
  #20  
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 159
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Progressive scan certainly makes a difference, if you have a set that can take advantage of it. I recently purchased a Toshiba 5109 prog scan player and have been very happy with it. The picture is noticably better than my Tosh 3109 (which had a very good picture).

At $525 + shipping the 5109 was about $200 more than what I paid for the 3109. I can't think of anything else that would make as much of a difference in the picture for the extra $200.

Old 04-11-00, 07:22 PM
  #21  
Uber Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Posts: 16,232
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Bumping up for the newer members.

------------------
-David
Other forum
Old 04-11-00, 07:57 PM
  #22  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: in Bush territory!
Posts: 11,613
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
you might also note that many new DVD players and receivers are becoming HDCD compatible. It is digital audio format where sound is encoded at 20 bits instead of the usual 16 bits that we're used to...and supposedly sounds better.

------------------
"I already got a guilty conscience, might as well have the money too."

What my guilty conscience has gotten me so far...

ON MY $HIT LIST
----------------
FAMILYBLUNDER
BESTBYE
BUY.CON
Old 04-12-00, 07:19 AM
  #23  
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 50
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Blade,

I would love some clarification on DD/DTS signals and how they relate to DVD/receivers.

I don't own a digital receiver currently, but my DVD player (a Tosh SD-1200, the replacement for the SD-2109) has coax DD/DTS digital output. Or thats how I read it atleast.

Now I hear about the decoder being built in, or being on the receiver .... whats the deal? which is better? Does the 2109/1200 have the decoder inside (I believe it does, again, how do I tell, wording?) If its onboard, and say the receivers decoder is better, how do I make use of it and not the one built in on the DVD player?

*Shrug* all this new dang fangled technology ... hard to keep up with ;-)

Cheers,
Mike



[This message has been edited by mooky7 (edited April 12, 2000).]
Old 04-12-00, 11:40 AM
  #24  
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 89
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is a classic marketing scheme. As you know, ALL DVD players are digital and some even support DTS but just because it says it says digital this and DTS that does not mean they have decoders built in. A good way to tell if the DVD player has a built in decoder is it will have the six channel output (center, fronts, rears, sub). That means the digital signal gets decoded to analog in the DVD player and is sent to the receiver as six seperate signals.

If the receiver has a digital input, that means it also has a digital decoder.

If you connect the DVD player to the receiver via the digital connections, the receiver will be doing the decoding since the signal is still digital when it leaves the DVD player. You are right when you say having the receiver do the decoding is better. If you connect to a receiver with a digital decoder using the six channel outputs, the receiver will take the already decoded analog signal, convert it back to digital, and then back to analog again. The six channel output should only be used with "digital ready" receivers that do not have digital decoders built in.


Just a note... If you can't connect to the receiver with neither the digital connections nor the six channel connections, then all your getting is plain old Pro-Logic surround like a VCR.

[This message has been edited by KungFuMidget (edited April 12, 2000).]
Old 04-12-00, 06:12 PM
  #25  
BEC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 358
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Mooky7,

The 1200/2109 DOES NOT have a decoder. The lowest level entry players usually do not.
(Toshiba 3109 does).

You will have to buy a receiver w/a built in DD/DTS decoder, but that is very common and probably better. That's another $200 min for the low end Kenwood or Sherwoods. $300-$400 for a very good Onkyo, Yamaha, Sony, ...

Just hook up the 2109 dig. output to the digital in of the receiver.

How are you getting your sound? An old receiver or computer hook-up?


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.