The DVD player market is plagued with DVD players all of which seem to perform the same function i.e. play video DVDs. However some players will also play other kinds of DVDs and CDs like MP3 CDs. Here I take a peek at a class of the most versatile DVD players which will play almost kind of disc you throw at them.
A DVD player is a combination of hardware and software on its chip. While most DVD players have identical hardware they differ vastly in software. The more advanced the software the more kinds of DVDs or CDs a player can handle. Besides the software, DVD players require codecs1, which allow them to de-compress the various compressed formats in which movies are saved to DVDs. So if you stick a DVD into your player which is compressed using a codec that your player does not recognize, then it won’t be able to play the DVD. For example if your DVD player does not have an MP3 codec, it will not be able to play MP3 files. To add to the complication, most off-the-shelf movie DVDs are locked to a certain region code2 (Europe, North America, Asia etc) and will not play in a player from another region.
DVDs and CDs can be of different kinds. This depends on the way information is stored on them. The most general kind of DVD or CD is the data disc. This means information is stored on the DVD or CD as files, in a format similar to that used by computers. Any combination of files can be stored on a data disc. So picture, video, music and word document files can all be stored together. Other DVD and CD formats are more specialized and can be used to store only one type of information. For example music CDs can only contain music tracks and DVD video discs can only contain video. Software required to handle specialized discs is simpler than that required to handle data discs.
All the DVD players featured on this page have advanced DVD and CD file browsing capability. This means not only will they play DVD video discs you buy off the shelf, you can also burn downloaded movie or music files onto your own DVD data disc and then browse and play these files on the player like you do on a computer. Some of them feature a USB port so you can plug in a memory stick and browse and play files off the memory stick.
These players support JPEG, MP3, WMA and AVI format files. JPEG means you can browse and view your pictures on the DVD. MP3 allows you to burn your downloaded/ripped music files onto a CD or DVD and play it back using the DVD player. WMA and AVI allow you to directly burn downloaded movie files onto DVDs and play them back through the player. Besides this they have in-built support for MPEG4, DivX and Xvid codecs besides support for other popular video codecs.
Now here is the killer feature. All these DVD players are multi-region and therefore capable of playing DVDs from any region. Which means you can stick a DVD from North America (region 1) into the payer and it will play just fine.
This is a slim multi-function DVD player. Colours are silver and grey and dimensions 220mm x 250mm x 40mm. It can connect to your television using SCART (included), S-Video or Composite Video outputs. It comes complete with a remote control and plays DVD, VCD, CD, SVCD, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, CD-R and CD-RW type disks. It also supports playback of karaoke CDG discs and 1.4GB mini DVDs. You can buy it here.
This DVD player is the most advanced of the three and also more expensive. Dimensions are 340mm x 270mm x 90mm. It features HDMI output3 with full 1080p or 720p HD upscaling and digital 5.1 sound output. It also has USB and memory card (SD, MMC and MS) slots. It is compatible with DVD, VCD, SVCD, CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW discs. It also supports .srt, .sub, .txt, .smi, .sa and .ass subtitle formats and comes with a full function remote control and LCD display. You can buy it here.