Buying a DVD player shouldn't be that complicated but manufacturers have created two high definition (HD) formats - Blu Ray and HD DVD. Right now we don't know which one the industry will adopt and both are fairly pricey compared to the standard progressive scan DVD players that sell for $100 or less. Since DVD players are relatively cheap for the basic models, they are not that well made either in terms of reliability and durability. I have bought several low end models and one of them went out after 2 years usage. I ended buying a new one instead of getting it repaired since it made more sense financially. The newest dvd players have outputs for HDMI and component video and they can play a variety of types of DVD discs like recordable DVDs, CDs with photos, and SACD or DVD-Audio formats. Of course, the majority of us homeowners only need them to play standard movies that we have bought or rented from the rental store and they all do this just fine. The leading brand names are Panasonic, Philips, Sony, Magnavox, Toshiba, OPPO, Denon, JVC, Pioneer, Samsung, and Coby.
If you are not ready to shovel out the big bucks for an HD DVD player, then consider finding a model that has 'upconverting' capabilities. Essentially, the DVD player will convert the video (480i) on a standard DVD disc to fit your HDTV. It can simulate 720p, 1080i, and even 1080p. Don't buy a dvd player with this feature unless you have an HD ready TV which is capable of showing HD shows or transmissions. The basic types of dvd players are single-disc, multidisc units, and portables. Most families will settle on a single-disc, progressive scan player that costs around $70 to $100. The majority of dvd players have the upconvert function built in these days so even if you don't have an HD TV, don't worry that you are paying a slight premium for that feature. Unless you are a total movie buff who has surround sound and the ultimate home theater system, most dvd players will display your movies just fine. The majority of the reviews we read on sites like CNET, Ecoustics.com, and HomeTheaterHifi.com get too in depth with feedback for the average buyer. For those interested in HD DVD players and need the best high definition viewing experience, those reviews can be helpful, but for the rest of us they can be confusing and not get to the main point. Consumer Reports does a good job of keeping their reviews and picks simple and yet informative. Reading owner reviews on Amazon or Ciruit City is also very helpful so you can hear what real people have to say. When it comes to buying extended warranties on DVD players, DO NOT do it. Experts and CR say it's not worth the trouble. Most players will last beyond their "technological" usefulness which means by the time it does need repairs, it will most likely be cheaper to replace it than to repair it. We have found some of the best deals online at etailers like Amazon as well as in retail stores like Circuit City and Best Buy. Even Sears, Target and Wal-Mart carry mid-range dvd players at cheap prices. I was recently in Costco and noticed some good deals on lesser known brand names, but for the price it's hard to beat.
Best DVD Player:
For a solid, basic dvd player, experts and consumers both choose the Philips DVP5960 ($63) that features HDMI, 1080i upscaling, and USB connect. The design is ultra-thin and DVD movies show up as crisp and clear on your screen. Some owners have said the remote control with the DVP 5960 is not very good, so perhaps having a universal remote will solve that problem. Otherwise, the Philips dvd player is considered a "good value" and "money well spent" say some customers. This player showed up on several review sites with positive feedback and Amazon ranks it very high in their "dvd player" section so that is how it got the top spot. There are more expensive models out there, but they don't offer anything else that the average user would need.
HD DVD Player:
The Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD Player ($210) is a very affordable HD solution for those with HDTV and want a quality picture from their DVD collection or rentals. The Toshiba HD DVD gets high praise for its HD DVD playback capabilities and it's ability to upconvert on all standard DVD titles. Owners reports excellent picture quality and sound that is pretty good. One person noted that the A2 model is being replace with the A3 ($270) but the specs are nearly the same and you still the same quality at a discount price. Considering we saw some HD dvd players on electronics sites that are upwards of $400, this Toshiba seems like a real steal. You can find the A2 on Amazon, Buy.com, and at Electronic Express.
Upconverting DVD Player:
The OPPO DV-980H ($170) from OPPO Digital is a brand that I was not that familiar with until recently. The name kept coming up in reviews we read in both magazines and online. The DV-980H allow for high definition up-conversion up to 1080p (full HD). The audio performance is second to none with 7.1-channel output and Dolby Digital Surround EX decoding. Playback formats include DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, Super Audio CD with DSD, Audio CDs, HDCD, WMA, DivX. For the real techie in the crowd, you can connect HDMI, Component, Composite, S-Video, 7.1CH, 5.1CH, Stereo, Coaxial, and Optical. Reviews on Amazon are more than positive with nearly everyone giving this OPPO dvd player a 5 out 5 rating. Even the few that had complaints are for minor technical issues that no one would notice.
Cheap DVD Player:
Even basic dvd players will show your movies just fine. They may not have all the bells and whistles that more expensive models possess, but they'll play DVD movies. The Coby DVD 224ss is rated as the most popular DVD player on Amazon but reviews are very mixed and too many people noted the product didn't work right when first plugged in. It's $28 which might make all the difference in the world. The Sony DVP-NS57P/S Progressive Scan ($48) is about $50 but provide a name brand which is important. The Sony dvd player comes in a silver color and the slim design allow this to fit in any cabinet or shelving unit for your A/V components. For the price, most consumers agree that this model is well worth the money. You can find this model on Amazon.com.