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What Is Meant By An HD-compatible DVD player?

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Question: What Is Meant By An HD-compatible DVD player?
Answer: An HD-compatible DVD player is a unit that is equipped with either a DVI (Digital Visual Interface) or HDMI (High Definition Multi-media Interface) connection. This connection can transfer the video signal from the DVD player to an HDTV that has the same type of video connections in pure digital form. In addition, this type of DVD player also has an what is referred to as "upscaling capability".

Standard DVD Resolution

A standard DVD player, without upscaling, can output video resolution at 720x480 (480i). A progressive scan DVD player, without upscaling, can output 720x480 (480p - progressive scan) video signals.

480i represents 720 pixels displayed across a screen horizontally and 480 pixels down a screen vertically. This arrangement yields 480 horizontal lines, which are, in turn, displayed alternately. In other words, all the odd lines are displayed, followed by all the even lines.

480p represents 720 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 480 pixels down the screen vertically. This arrangement yields 480 horizontal lines on the screen, which are, in turn, displayed progressively, or each line displayed following another.

The Upscaling Process

Upscaling is a process that mathematically matches the pixel count of the output of the DVD signal to the physical pixel count on an HDTV, which is typically 1280x720 (720p) or 1920x1080 (1080i).

720p represents 1,280 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 720 pixels down the screen vertically. This arrangement yields 720 horizontal lines on the screen, which are, in turn, displayed progressively, or each line displayed following another.

1080i represents 1,920 pixels displayed across a screen horizontally and 1,080 pixels down a screen vertically. This arrangement yields 1,080 horizontal lines, which are, in turn, displayed alternately. In other words, all the odd lines are displayed, followed by all the even lines.

The Practical Effect Of DVD Upscaling

Visually, there is very little difference to the eye of the average consumer between 720p and 1080i. However, 720p can deliver a slightly smoother-looking image, due to the fact that lines and pixels are displayed in a consecutive pattern, rather than in an alternate pattern.

The upscaling process does a good job of matching the upscaled pixel output of a DVD player to the native pixel display resolution of an HDTV capable television, resulting in better detail and color consistency.

However, upscaling, as it is currently implemented, cannot convert standard DVD images into true high-definition images. In fact, although upscaling works well with fixed pixel displays, such as Plasma and LCD televisions, results are not always consistent on CRT-based high definition televisions.

Points to Remember

Points to remember: Any DVD player can be hooked up to an HDTV. Although HD-Compatible DVD players are better able to match the native pixel resolution of an HDTV, you will still get good results on a standard DVD player that is connected via an HDTV's provided Component or S-Video inputs.

However, if you DO have an HDTV, and a standard DVD player, you will get the best results using the Component video connection (red-blue-green) between the DVD player and the HDTV. In addition, if your DVD player is progressive scan capable, always use that option when connected to a progressive scan capable television.

Don't confuse upscaling of standard DVDs with the native high definition output resolutions of Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Upscaling of standard DVDs is an appoximation of high definition, while Blu-ray and HD-DVD are true high definition sources. For more information on this, check out my Blu-ray and HD-DVD FAQs

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