What mainstream DVD player has the best error correction?
April 27, 2009 1:13 PM   Subscribe

What mainstream DVD player has the best error correction?

I'm totally frustrated that I often cannot play scratched rental DVD's on my existing DVD player (an eight-year old Sony player that cost a fortune at the time).

I want to get an affordable new player that can play scratched discs well. I don't need any fancy HD/progressive scan/1080/whatever new features.

I'm in South Africa so unfortunately I don't have access to any smaller, more 'boutique' brand players, just mainstream brands.

I've scoured Google on this topic, and so far have just come up with a few anecdotal recommendations for Panasonic, Pioneer and JVC. I was really hoping to find a site that rated players on this issue, but no joy after nearly an hour of searching.

(Incidentally, a similar question WAS asked here on Metafilter before - but nearly five years ago. Only a few recommendations and of course VERY out of date).
posted by worldshift to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Oppo players are excellent, not sure how mainstream they are by you though.
posted by zeoslap at 1:20 PM on April 27, 2009

Looks like these guys have them http://www.audiotweak.co.za/

Review from them http://www.oppodigital.com/press/download/Oppo_981HD_AVSA2008Review.pdf
posted by zeoslap at 1:22 PM on April 27, 2009

An editor at Ars Technica claims that the Playstation 3 has a high tolerance for scratched discs. I use a PS3 as my main DVD player (after having used a fairly expensive Philips player for seven years) and I've yet to have a disc skip in it. It's even handled a DVD that skipped in my Mac desktop.

I'm not sure whether you consider that affordable, though, and it does have features you say you don't need. But it's probably the case that a player that has features you don't need will also be the best with regard to the features you do need.
posted by Prospero at 3:05 PM on April 27, 2009

The best (cheapest) solution might be to rip the DVDs ahead of time with a computer that can do error correction on the rip.

(In theory, the world's cheapest DVD player ought to have tremendous error correction abilities owing to the fact that DVD transports are at a pretty high X factor right not. Like old CD players, they should be able to get 5x oversampling no problem. Then just present the bits they are most confident in. On the other hand, if it was easy, I guess they'd have already done it.)
posted by gjc at 6:17 PM on April 27, 2009

Response by poster: Umm, thanks for these suggestions, but I'm looking for an affordable player, ie. the best one at normal DVD player prices, not one that costs thousands of rands.
posted by worldshift at 11:25 PM on April 27, 2009

I don't think you really need to narrow this down to manufacturer or brand (and it may not be possible to do this in any sensible way anyway, since probably half of them have internals that come from the same factory, etc.) Any modern player will probably work better than an 8-year-old one, whose problem for all we know could just be that its laser is out of alignment.

I would just buy a relatively cheap player from a major brand, but make sure you buy it from a store that has a 30-day return policy. Run it through your normal lineup of discs; very likely it will handle it fine, and if not, you return it.

I mean, most people must be able to play these rental discs somehow, and it's not like they've all done advanced research into DVD players. Probably the reason that reviews don't cover this particular topic specifically is that all modern players handle this pretty well (and pretty much the same).
posted by dixie flatline at 12:08 AM on April 28, 2009

A scratched disc is a scratched disc. A damaged piece of media ought not to be expected to play well, period.

I have had problems too with scratched discs, discs covered with someone's fingerprints, etc.. Cleaning it can help, but if not, I return it to the DVD rental store or library and tell them the disc is damaged. In terms of rentals, I am always offered the chance to borrow another disc as compensation.

Do you have evidence that your DVD player is somehow worse than other players out there? It sounds like this keeps happening for you.

Otherwise I agree that any typical brand (Toshiba, Pioneer etc.) ought to play any disc that's in reasonable shape, just fine.

[ I also see products advertised for cleaning your DVD player's lens. I am unfamiliar with these, I've never used one myself, after watching DVDs for >5 years (pioneer). So I can't say if you have a dirty lens or not].
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:35 AM on April 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the answers so far!

I've been doing some testing today, and have discovered there IS a very real difference in error correction capabilities between different players. I tried a scratched disc from my rental store on a number of players. My findings:

- disc simply stops playing on my old, expensive Sony player
- disc plays, but incredibly pixelated, on a R470 ($53) Toshiba player
- likewise incredibly pixelated, on a R500 ($56) LG player
- disc plays through, with slight freezing and jerking, on a R450 ($51) Samsung player

And the surprise finding:

- disc plays almost perfectly on a AIM player, only slight jerking for a couple of seconds - and this is an el cheapo player from China that sells at Pick n Pay (like Wal-mart in my country) for only R200 ($22) for a two channel player, or R350 ($40) for a Dolby 5.1 player!!!

Conclusion: There is a very real difference between players, they're not all the same, and price is not necessarily an indicator.

PS. Almost everyone, online and in stores, seems to concur that Sony players have the worst error correction - be warned.

I'd welcome any other contributions on this topic.
posted by worldshift at 12:52 PM on April 28, 2009

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