DVD headspin!
October 3, 2009 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Time for a new DVD player. Format confusion! Resources?

After seven years, our old DVD player is consistently refusing to play a disc all the way through. I have paid enough vague attention to DVD format wars to understand that the wars are over and that one or another format won and, if I understand the way these things work, dual-format high-def players may actually be or become available. In addition to that I have noticed that a wide variety of ancillary media formats are commonly supported for playback on current DVD players.

The current machine has either/or s-video and component out; we currently use component out in parallel with a secondary s-video out and can view both signals simultaneously, which is nice for use with a projector. I would like to keep those output options and am open to adding HDMI out.

I am definitely looking for an upconverting player; our primary TV is true HD. It would be WAY COOL if the DVD player could also play a range of network-stored media files, both ripped DVD images and VIDEO_TS folders and loose quicktime files, .avi's, MP4s and MP3s and whatnot.

Where to go to review current offerings and models in order to get up to speed sufficiently to make an informed decision?

Thanks very much!

Some (reasonably recent) previous links:


posted by mwhybark to Technology (17 answers total)
Response by poster: NB: the second link contains many raves for players by Oppo, and they do look interesting - AND they are reasonably priced.
posted by mwhybark at 11:08 AM on October 3, 2009

I'd get a Playstation 3 if I were you. Yes, it's $299, but it's a media center, a Blu-Ray and DVD player and a video game system to boot.
posted by inturnaround at 11:10 AM on October 3, 2009

I bought one of these super cheap like 40 bucks
The great feature I like is I can put an AVI file(movie torrent) on a USB stick and just play it no burning DVDs
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 11:14 AM on October 3, 2009

I'm very very happy with my Oppo DV-980H. It's not networkable, though.
posted by Lazlo at 11:48 AM on October 3, 2009

Honestly, an original modded xbox may be your best bet. It has great upconversion (720p/1080i, I don't think it does 1080p) on DVDs and can play any manner of formats (but not HD). Built in ethernet, easy to find.
posted by CharlesV42 at 11:50 AM on October 3, 2009

Best answer: Blu-Ray won. HD-DVD is dead dead dead. There's no reason to get a dual-format player.

All BD players upconvert dvds.

PS3s will play almost any avi or mp4 (some mp4 files stutter over network but play fine if downloaded to the ps3's hard drive). It won't play mkvs, though 99% of mkvs convert painlessly to avi in a few minutes with mkv2vob. It won't play dvd iso's natively but I've read that ps3mediaserver will stream them. It won't play a video_ts directory as if it were a dvd (but you could punch down into the directory and play the vobs directly if you really wanted to).

Any new BD player will almost certainly have hdmi out. The PS3 has an hdmi out and a standard game-machine proprietary output. Digital out over optical or hdmi, no coax; you need hdmi for the lossless audio codecs as optical can't handle the bitrates.

I expect you'll have problems finding a BD player that supports simultaneous video output over multiple outputs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:55 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Any newer philips with usb should provide you with all those outputs and divx, xvid, avi, mkv compatibility and remain under $60. Check walmart. Or here
posted by bravowhiskey at 11:57 AM on October 3, 2009

The only real annoyance I have with the PS3 is that for usb drives, it only reads FAT32. This imposes a 4GB file size limit. Which annoys me because dumping 10-15GB HD rips to a portable hard drive would be more convenient than trying to download them over a wireless-g network (and I only have something like 5-8GB free on the machine anyway).

On the other hand, you can pop the hard drive out and replace it with just about any 2.5" SATA drive, and not even void the warranty. I keep meaning to get a 500GB drive and set the machine to download big rips while I'm at work.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:01 PM on October 3, 2009

I'll put in another vote for the PS3. I have it wired to the network and stream movies to it with no problems. I did have it hooked up wirelessly at one point, but had trouble with HD movies stuttering while streaming.

I'm not so happy with the way it handles music since I can't seem to figure out a way to get it to play shuffled music from all the sub-folders in my music folder. It will only play music from the selected folder. You didn't mention music in your question, but once the PS3 is a media player, you'll probably want to stream your music also.

I thought it was kind of goofy using a game controller to control the movies so I got a remote that looks like a standard remote. Makes it easier for non-gamers to figure out the movie controls.

I don't think you can do simultaneous output to two different video sources. And only HDMI and component outputs.
posted by rsclark at 12:38 PM on October 3, 2009

Response by poster: Interesting stuff:




All three of these models include an Ethernet port. The LG page has an extensive series of user notes on enabling access to networked media resources - unfortunately it appears to be Windows-only, no surprise but not necessarily insurmountable.

One user explicitly notes that he was able to get it working with his Mac LAN, possibly due to an old copy of an ElGato EyeHome media server - which makes me pretty happy, as that would be a reasonably accurate description of my home LAN, down to the old EyeHome.

I did not note any reports of VIDEO_TS capability, darn it.
posted by mwhybark at 3:23 PM on October 3, 2009

Response by poster: Oppo BDP-83 owner's thread at AVSForum.
posted by mwhybark at 3:40 PM on October 3, 2009

Response by poster: According to this FAQ, the Oppo does NOT support networked media access. It does permit USB-mounted media playback. I haven't found any info about video_ts playback yet.
posted by mwhybark at 3:48 PM on October 3, 2009

I have used the PS3 for Blu-Ray, and it is fine, but does have a few drawbacks to consider vs. a standalone player like the LG.

- The remote is extra (only $20), and it uses bluetooth rather than IR -- Not leaving many options for a universal remote.

- The LG and others support Netflix streaming, which is a great feature, and it is unknown when it will get it, due to an exclusive deal with Microsoft.
posted by SpookyFish at 4:46 PM on October 3, 2009

Response by poster: Huh, I thought I posted some more info. The AVS Forum thread on the LG 390 says no video_ts support and didn't have a great alternative - a poster suggested performing an aftermarket upgrade on the current Popcorn Hour machine (adding a PC-market blu-ray drive) but apparently there are limitations to playback built into the spec (expiring license keys or some such typical bullshit) which limits the advisability of the approach.

I'm leaning LG 390-ward but need to hem and haw a bit about the idea.
posted by mwhybark at 5:40 PM on October 3, 2009

Response by poster: Looks like another response of mine never got posted. I appreciate the PS3 suggestions very much and will be looking into it as well. My main reluctance is that we already have a gaming device in the AV stack, which is not precisely an objection.
posted by mwhybark at 5:47 PM on October 3, 2009

Response by poster: LG390 obtained.

No love on PPC Mac-based media sharing yet. I am starting a systematic investigation.

Although the 390 does not appear to be a formal participant in UPnP and DNLA certification, much of the discussion about media sharing for the device revolves around these two standards.

TESTED and not functional:
EyeHome media server (currently active on media mac)
Nullriver MediaLink

Default WinXP folder sharing - makes me think if I activated SMB on the Mac the media might become available.


Synology NAS enclosures

eyeconnect - DNLA UPnP

twonky - DNLA UPnP
posted by mwhybark at 10:19 AM on October 15, 2009

Response by poster: CONCLUSIVE UPDATE

eyeconnect - DNLA UPnP

Worked immediately on install.

Twonky, on the other hand, does not seem to publish instructions on stopping or uninstalling the server on Mac OS X.
posted by mwhybark at 5:24 PM on October 15, 2009

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