How to find a DVD drive for both my computer and TV.
July 5, 2012 4:09 AM   Subscribe

Is there a DVD player that will work with my Mac and also connect to the HDMI port on my TV for playing movies? Bonus points if it is compact enough to carry when I travel.

Love my new MacBook Air, but I don't know how to deal with no longer having an optical drive. I could get the Apple external "Superdrive" for installing from or burning to the occasional DVD or CD, but I also need to purchase a DVD player for my TV. Hopefully something that can connect directly to the HDMI port.

Is there an all-in-one, hopefully compact, device that will connect to both my computer and my TV? Surely such a thing exists and I'm just not clever enough to find it.

I'm keeping an older laptop around just for its optical drive, but this is a silly waste of money and I would like to sell it if I can solve this one problem.
posted by bchaplin to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your best bet is to get the SuperDrive and run the DVD Player application, which is bundled with OS X. You plug the MBA into the TV via MiniDisplay-to-HDMI adapter, and the SuperDrive and application play the movie.

Another option would be a settop DVD player that has a FireWire output as well as HDMI. You could search on those terms to find models. You'd need a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:21 AM on July 5, 2012

Response by poster: So with the first option, the MBA is connected to the TV as well? My only issue with that is that I no longer have use of the computer while the DVD is playing.

I'll do some searches on option#2.
posted by bchaplin at 4:48 AM on July 5, 2012

You can get a cheap DVD player for like 30 dollars to connect to your TV. Why is that not an option?
posted by rockindata at 5:10 AM on July 5, 2012

Decent upconverting DVD Players with HDMI out are not at all expensive these days. Check Newegg or similar, sort by lowest price, and find one that has decent reviews.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:22 AM on July 5, 2012

Ditto. You will end up paying more for one piece of equipment that does both things not very well (and will not be portable to boot). USB SuperDrive (portable) and cheap DVD player (optimized for watching movies).
posted by supercres at 5:57 AM on July 5, 2012

Another two-component option might be to buy an external DVD drive and something like the Raspberry Pi, a $25 computer the size of a credit card that has both a USB port and HDMI out.
posted by XMLicious at 7:03 AM on July 5, 2012

You will still be able to use the computer, the HDMI out from the Air can be set up as a separate screen (Uncheck the "Mirror displays" box in the preferences). If you buy movies on iTunes (which, true, is more expensive) instead of DVDs, then you can have your movies on the Air and play either on its screen or on TV. You'll probably want an external hard disk in that case, but it could be a much better choice than the external SuperDrive.

But yes, everyone else is right, any kind of combo drive is going to be way, way more expensive than two individual devices. The circuitry to send HDMI signals is pretty pricey, which is why an HDMI switch is a hundred bucks and TVs tend to only have a couplathree HDMI ports.
posted by wnissen at 9:50 AM on July 5, 2012

Just an FYI, Blazecock's option 2 would not work. The firewire output from the DVD player, with or without Thunderbolt adapter, would only be suitable for video capture - not for data transfer, and on any commercial DVD that output stream would be blocked anyway.

Unfortunately, everyone is spot on. There were a couple of Sony DVD drives with extra options for recording and output (more for recording video straight to a DVD), but those will be far beyond any price you want to pay - and might not do what you want anyway.

I do video production and video installation. You won't find a better option than two separate items - a DVD drive for your Air, and a DVD player for your television.

If it helps on cost, you can generally use a non-Apple brand external drive just fine with your Mac. I took the DVD drive out of my Macbook Pro to add a second hard drive, and I have a bus-powered DVD burner that is not bigger than two CD cases.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:22 AM on July 5, 2012

Here you go, I have this I/OMagic external drive. Certainly not as pretty as the Apple Superdrive, but half the cost. I can't speak to it personally, but the Amazon Basics drive is also under $40 and has very positive reviews.

So for the $80 you would spend on a Superdrive, spend $40 on a DVD drive and $40 on a DVD player. Done and done.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:28 AM on July 5, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips.
XMLicious - it would require more technical skill than I have to know what to do with that Raspberry, but what an interesting idea!
I guess it will have to be two separate DVD players then. I appreciate the tip about the Amazon Basics drive.
posted by bchaplin at 6:20 PM on July 5, 2012

One more thing! Probably not worth the effort, but depending on your comfort level with taking apart your old laptop, you can get an empty enclosure for that disc drive.

Here's one for an IDE connection for a whopping $7. My opinion is to splurge on the Amazon Basics for $40, though.
posted by shinynewnick at 6:40 PM on July 5, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you again for all the comments.

Interestingly, on reading about Apple's new operating system soon-to-be-released (Mountain Lion), it seems that computers will now have AirPlay capabilities. So I suppose that I should be able to connect a DVD player (SuperDrive or a cheaper version) to my computer, and stream it to the TV over wifi. This kind of solves the problem for me; I'll probably hold off on getting a DVD player dedicated to the TV, although they are cheaper than I thought.
posted by bchaplin at 3:11 PM on July 14, 2012

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