Contrary to what you’ve heard from a consumer electronics store salespersons or read from so called “analysts”, you should not buy an upconverting (also called an upscaling) DVD player for your HDTV. Why not?  It’s a waste of money! Here’s why.

Every HDTV has circuits that will convert the native output of a standard DVD player (480i) to the resolution of your HDTV, (which usually is 720p, 768p or 1080p.) After comparing a number of upconverting and standard output DVD players with name brand HDTVs, I have seen little of no difference in performance upon close examination of movie content or test discs. Wait there’s more.

As seen in the HD Guru tests of 2008 HDTVs, the internal scaling circuits have been upgraded, compared to previous year’s models and are generally superior to the scalers within many upconverting DVD players. Name brand upconverting DVD players sell for around $60-$170 or higher. In addition to the purchase of an upconverting DVD player, you will need to purchase an HDMI cable to send the audio and video from your DVD player to your HDTV and/or surround sound system. Best Buy sells for HDMI cables for around $50-$130 (for a 4-8 foot length). Yes, the price is not a misprint; the cable often costs more than the upconverting DVD player. One should take pause, and consider why a 6-8 foot piece of wire costs more than a DVD player that has a metal case, power supply, laser, lens, motor and circuitry. What should you do?

Buy A Blu-ray Player Instead

After this Thanksgiving, you will be able to purchase name brand Blu-ray players from $149 at various major retailers (with no name brands possibly on-sale as little as $99). Today you can find a Sharp Blu-ray player for $169.99 at the HD GURU/ link on the left hand side of this webpage. At you can purchase a Sylvania NB500MG9 for $207.92 including shipping and an HDMI cable. Incidentally, Consumer Reports just top-rated this Sylvania Blu-ray player.  In addition to Blu-ray discs, all current Blu-ray players also play standard definition DVDs and can upconvert all DVDs to 1080p.

The Difference Between DVD and Blu-ray Players

If you have never seen a Blu-ray movie on an HDTV, you may be surprised to learn there is far more to Blu-ray image than higher resolution when compared to DVD (the native rez of Blu-ray is 1080p vs. 480i for a DVD). Blu-ray discs hold over 5 to 10 times more information than DVDs and because of this, the transfer speed is far higher than standard def DVDs or broadcast, satellite or cable HD content. The result, a picture virtually free of what is known as “compression artifacts”. In simple terms, the Blu-ray image is far smoother and cleaner than can be achieved by upconverting a  standard definition DVD.  This smooth image looks so much better than any upconverted DVD (especially on a large screen) anyone will immediately notice the improvement.

Versions of Blu-ray Players

There are three versions of Blu-ray players. They are called Profile 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0. The differences are in the special features, not picture quality. Profile 1.0 will play all Blu-ray discs but do not have the “BonusView” feature (it’s included in Profile 1.1) which is a picture-in-picture extra content feature such as the director’s comments in a widow with the movie playing. Profile 2.0 players also include BD-Live so you can access online content, such as clips or future trailers. Of course, you will need a high speed Ethernet connection by the player. Players have different audio output options (regardless of their profile) and you need to check compatibility with the audio format you want to decode. All Blu-ray players handle legacy Dolby Digital 5.1.

There are video quality differences between Blu-ray players, however, they are never nearly as great as the image improvement you’ll see when comparing an upconverted standard DVD and Blu-ray content.

HDMI Cables

Most consumers require an HDMI cable that is 2 meters (6.5 feet) long or less. You can save a lot of money by purchasing an HDMI cable on-line or at a warehouse club or select discount electronics stores. has 6 ft. HDMI cables for as little as $4.47 delivered (97 cents for the cable and $3.50 shipping). Wal-Mart offer a 6 ft. cable for $19.99 at select stores and Fry’s also has them for less than twenty bucks. Contrary to negative claims made by sales persons regarding cheap under 12 foot long HDMI cables, none of the off brand ones tested have yielded less than perfect results.

Recently, a Best Buy clerk falsely claimed to a friend that the Best Buy house brand $50 HDMI cable lacked adequate insulation, and if purchased it instead of their $100 cable name brand HDMI cable, the signal would “leak out” before it reaches his HDTV.

Copyright ©2008 Gary Merson/HD Guru®  All rights reserved. HD GURU is a registered trademark.  The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.