Upscaling DVD players, simplified!

What is an upscaling DVD player? Upscaling players take standard definition pictures and boost them up to High-Definition resolution using clever techno-trickery. You can even select the resolution, typically either 720p or 1080i. How do the pictures compare to those from a normal DVD player? Picture quality is generally better, but often not earth-shatteringly so. The problem is that HDTVs already have built-in upscalers, which adjust any incoming signal to fit the resolution of their screens. However, the upscaling ability in a quality DVD player should be better than the TV’s. Are the pictures as good as HD? The resulting picture quality is nowhere near as good as proper Hi-Def sources like Sky HD or Virgin Media. DVD images contain 576 lines of picture information, whereas HD contains a minimum of 720. How does upscaling work? Upscaling DVD decks can’t add new info, they create extra lines of pixels by copying parts of surrounding pixels, effectively "guessing" at what the image should look like at a higher resolution. If done badly, it can ruin picture quality. Can you get upscaled pictures from all of the outputs? No. Upscaled video is usually only available from the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). All upscaling decks boast this connection, which keeps signals in the digital domain and doesn’t allow any signal degradation. Is it worth getting an upscaler to work with my old TV? Absolutely not. Tube (CRT) TVs don’t have HDMI inputs and can’t display HD pictures. You need an HD-ready plasma, LCD, rear-projection telly or projector. Shouldn’t I get a Blu-ray or HD-DVD player instead?
If you want true High-Definition pictures, then yes you should. They can upscale DVDs too. But upscaling DVD players get the best possible pictures out of your existing collection without you having to fork out a grand! Buyers checklist 1. Make sure your telly has an HDMI input and check its resolution – if it doesn’t have at least 720 lines, don’t bother buying an upscaling DVD deck. 2. Don’t expect earth-shatteringly sharp HD pictures. If you want proper Hi-Def, get Sky HD, Virgin Media or an HD-DVD or Blu-ray player. 3. More pricey players generally boast more powerful upscaling circuitry, so the picture quality is better, especially on bigger screens. Port spotting Optical Audio These digital connections typically feed to a surround sound amp, which decodes the 5.1 soundtrack on disc. Component Next in the picture quality pecking order, this port is capable of carrying Hi-Def signals in analogue form. HDMI This all-digital connection is able to carry upscaled video to your TV and offers the best picture quality available. Composite This is the lowest quality connection, and should only be used when all the other options are exhausted. S-Video Short for Super-Video this is best suited to plugging in camcorders, but provides pretty solid image quality. Scart Best for old-school CRT TVs, and the most common analogue connection. It still delivers rich, vibrant images.

Published on 17th January