- What does "DVD" stand for?
"DVD" stands for digital versatile disc, but some sources declare that it doesn't stand for anything anymore.
- How much do DVD players and DVDs cost?
Prices of DVD players range from about $200 to $2,000. The discs have come down in price since the start of 2000, ranging now from about $14 to $30.
- We have a VCR and a collection of movies on tape. Why would we want a DVD player?
A DVD player has several advantages over a VCR:
- The quality of the picture and sound on a DVD is better than on a videotape, and DVDs maintain their high quality over time.
- With a DVD player, you can jump right to a certain part of the movie, without rewinding and fast-forwarding, so you can easily watch a favorite scene again and again if you want to.
- Movies on DVD can be seen in wide-screen (letterbox) format, bringing you closer to the experience of watching the movie in the theater, or in TV format, which fills the screen of most television sets.
- DVDs often have interesting extras, such as a director's commentary or cast biographies.
- Can I record television shows or movies on a DVD player?
DVD players are not yet designed to record from the analog television signal. But you can record data on DVDs with your computer.
- Can I play CDs on a DVD player?
Yes. DVD players are completely compatible with audio compact discs. And music will become increasingly available in DVD format. See this page for more discussion of the DVD audio format.
- What is the difference between DVDs and laser discs?
Laser disc is an older technology. It offered a better picture and better sound than videotapes, and it is comparable to DVD. But the laser disc format is analog; DVDs are digital (see How Analog and Digital Recording Works). Laser discs are only used for prerecorded movies, and they are larger, about 12 inches in diameter, instead the 5-inch diameter of DVDs. The two formats usually can't be played on the same machine. Laser discs, like DVDs, allow viewers to go to the exact scene they wish to see, and to freeze a frame or slow the picture. Laser discs can only hold an hour on each side, so you have to flip the disc to watch the second half of the movie. Because of DVD compression techniques, DVDs can hold more data. You rarely have to flip a DVD to watch a whole movie. Laser disc players are noisier than DVD players, and they can sometimes suffer "laser rot" -- the aluminum side of the disc oxidizes, and the quality of the disc deteriorates. DVDs are less likely to have this problem, because manufacturing techniques have improved. As the popularity of DVD grows, laser discs are becoming harder to find.
- Are there a lot of movie and music titles available on DVD?
There are thousands of movies available on DVD now, and more are being added as DVD players become more common. In 2000, most movie studios released their movies in both VHS and DVD format. Older movies, such as Disney animation classics, are also showing up on DVD. You can rent DVDs at almost any video store these days.
- What are region codes?
Movie studios use region codes on DVDs to thwart unauthorized copying, and to control the release dates of DVD movies. The actual region code is stored in one byte on the DVD. The DVD player or drive has a region code in its firmware. Personal computer DVD-ROM players often have the code in the software or in the MPEG-2 decoder. For the player or drive to play the movie, the two codes must match. The code is also printed on the back of a DVD package, superimposed on a small image of the globe. If you have a DVD that was made for release in Asia, you won't be able to play it on a DVD player intended for use in Australia.
Connecting the DVD Player
Connecting a DVD player to your stereo receiver (or television, if you don't have a receiver) involves making two basic connections: audio and video.
The first connection to make is for the audio portion of the signal. There will be several options depending on the receiver you have.
- The best choice (if available) is either to use an optical (also called Tos-link) or coaxial (RCA) digital connection. These two choices are equal in quality. In order to use either of these, you will need to have both an output on the DVD player, and an input on the receiver. Only receivers with built-in Dolby Digital decoders will have this type of input.
The audio outputs on a DVD player
- If your receiver does not have a built-in Dolby Digital or DTS decoder, but is "Dolby Digital ready," look for the 5.1-channel Dolby or 5.1-channel DTS. This connection involves six cables, corresponding to different speaker channels: left front, center front, right front, left rear, right rear and subwoofer.
- The last option to connect the two components is with analog RCA outputs. This is a two-cable connection, with one cable delivering the left speaker sound, and the other cable delivering the right. This connection will deliver only stereo sound, but it may be your only option if you are hooking up directly to a television, or if you have an old receiver with only two channels.
The second connection is for the video portion of the DVD player.
- The best quality choice is to use component connection. This connection consists of three cables: color-labeled red, blue and green. The quality is superb. However, these connections only exist on extremely high-end receivers and television sets.
The video outputs on a DVD player
- The next option is s-video. One cable connects the DVD player to the receiver in this setup.
- The last option, similar to the audio setup, is to use the analog RCA video output, usually color-labeled yellow on both ends. This will deliver the lowest quality, but will suffice for most older, analog televisions.
- The first DVD player hit the market in March 1997.
- About 10 million DVD players have been sold since March 1997.
- If an average DVD movie were uncompressed, it would take at least a year to download it over a normal phone line.
- The Sony PlayStation 2 is the first video game system able to play DVDs.
- DVDs often have special features hidden on the disc. These "Easter eggs" can be previews of other movies, computer software or music. DVD Review has a listing of some great Easter eggs that viewers have found on DVDs.
- Some DVDs carry commentary tracks, in which the filmmaker talks about the movie while it is running. This can be very exciting for true film buffs. DVDs can also contain extra, previously unreleased scenes. And a DVD is sometimes a director's cut -- the film as the director originally intended it.
- Because DVDs are so durable, film aficionados can watch a favorite movie repeatedly without the disc losing its quality. This is also good for parents whose children like to watch the same movies over and over again.
- You can use the "jog-and-shuttle" feature on DVD players to find scenes, play them in slow motion or freeze a scene, and the video quality will remain the same.
- Software loaded from DVD, as opposed to CD-ROM, can contain more information. An entire encyclopedia can fit onto one DVD, whereas other formats would require multiple discs.
- DVD Demystified: The Guidebook for DVD-Video and DVD-ROM, by Jim Taylor
- CD-R/DVD: Digital Recording to Optical Media, by Lee Purcell
- DVD Player Fundamentals, by Andrew Yoder
- Home Theatre for Everyone: A Practical Guide to Today's Home Entertainment Systems, by Robert Harley, Tomlinson Holman
- Doug Pratt's DVD-Video Guide, by Doug Pratt
- VideoHound's DVD Guide, by Mike Mayo
- Why DVD?: A Meat and Potatoes Guide for the Uninitiated, by Joseph Matheny
- DVD Demystified, 2nd Edition, by Jim Taylor
- DVD Production, by Mark Ely
Lots More Information!
Related stuff.dewsoftoverseas.com Articles
More Great Links!