dvd for non HDTV?
September 13, 2005 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Trying to buy a cheap, non-HD (single-disc, even) DVD player, and having trouble separating the facts from the hucksterism on the web.

It's for my daughter. She has a regular old TV. Thought I could skip into eBay and get one for a song, but find I can't even tell which one I should buy. Do you need an HDtv for progressive scan? Do you need progressive scan? Will any dvd play on any tv? Will people claim everything under the sun to sell something? Does it matter? Google also leads me to conflicting results. This is what I get for not watching tv much, I have no idea about this crap. Any help appreciated.
posted by umberto to Technology (12 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, I'm in the US, I know that makes a difference. See, I learned one thing...
posted by umberto at 2:25 PM on September 13, 2005

A regular old TV won’t benefit from progressive scan, which requires special inputs generally found on newer, more expensive sets. Progressive-scan players can also output a standard signal, though, so they would still work with your daughter’s TV. Any DVD should play on any TV, with the caveat that if the TV only has a coaxial input (thick cable you attach by screwing it in) and not RCA inputs (three plugs colored yellow, red, and white), you’ll need an adapter to hook up the DVD player.
posted by hilker at 2:42 PM on September 13, 2005

Most DVD players are essentially identical and will work with any TV that has a composite video input (usually colored yellow). Progressive scan requires a TV that supports it, though it can be turned off to work with normal TVs. Any DVD will play on any player, provided they are from the same Region.
posted by cillit bang at 2:43 PM on September 13, 2005

Short answer? You can safely ignore any HD or progressive scan mumbo jumbo. A regular DVD player will work with a regular TV will play any DVD (as long as its an American DVD, that is--if you want her to get into region hacking, it's another story altogether). If the back of her TV only has a "screw in" cable like for cable TV, you might need to get a little adapter box or you might need to run the DVD player through a VCR first.
posted by bcwinters at 2:44 PM on September 13, 2005

The device bcwinters refers to is an RF modulator [radioshack.com]. Works with any TV that has coax (screw) input and DVD that has "video out" and "audio out" jacks.
posted by rolypolyman at 2:47 PM on September 13, 2005

Response by poster: All best answers. Thanks.
posted by umberto at 3:36 PM on September 13, 2005

Try a Playstation 2, then you get a DVD player and a game machine in one.
posted by benjh at 4:07 PM on September 13, 2005

What everyone else said... in your case a cheap-o non-progressive scan player will do just fine.

Some more info for your edification: Progressive scan is the same thing as EDTV (enhanced definition TV), and is the native resolution of DVDs. It's also refered to as 480p, meaning there are 480 progressive (as opposed to interlaced) lines of pixels on the screen. Normal old non-HD or -ED TVs project their images at 480i. In hand-waving terms, 480p is a significant step up in image quality from 480i, but not quite as good as high definition resolutions (720p, 1080i, 1080p). That said, without an ED or HD capable television the DVD images will be scaled down to 480i, regardless of whether or not your DVD player features progressive scan.
posted by drpynchon at 5:18 PM on September 13, 2005

You might want to look at a Zensonic player - they play DVDs but also DivXs burnt to CD-R/DVD-R.
posted by polyglot at 5:35 PM on September 13, 2005

bcwinters wrote:
you might need to run the DVD player through a VCR first.

Actually, IME, you need to use an RF modulator, as suggested by rolypolyman, as you generally cannot use a VCR for this purpose. There is a signal - designed to prevent copying- put out by most DVD players that will cause interference on most VCRs.
posted by birdsquared at 5:39 PM on September 13, 2005

Benjh has the right idea...a PS2. As cheap as a cheapie DVD player and, of course, games.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:18 PM on September 13, 2005

But cheap dvd players are $40-75 (for a philips 642, everyone's favorite hackable play-everything toy), and a PS2 costs $150.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 PM on September 13, 2005

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