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Monday, January 01, 2007

Excellent upconverting DVD player for your HDTV

About a month ago I wrote here about how I was looking for a new DVD player with "upconversion" capability to complement our new 37" LCD high-definition TV set. Well, I wound up with one for Christmas from my parents and to say that I'm impressed would be an understatement...

The Philips DVP 5960 DVD player. I was expecting some marked improvement in picture quality over the regular DVD player we've had for a few years, that was hooked-up to the HDTV set with component cables. Instead I was flat-out stunned. Sending its input to the set via HDMI, visual quality is amazing! Earlier today we watched Cars on it and you wouldn't believe how shiny and life-like Lightning McQueen's hood looked: almost as if you could reach out and touch it. I've tried this player with a few movies like Revenge of the Sith, King Kong and Batman Begins and the difference between the Philips upconverting player and standard DVD was like between night and day. I was really impressed with how The Matrix looked: easily the best I've ever seen in a home environment. We are talking getting a darned-near high-def image out of standard DVDs... and at 1080i too!

But that's not all folks: the Philips DVP 5960 also plays DivX AVI files from your computer. Just burn them to a CD-ROM or a blank DVD disc and insert it into the player. I watched some of the Doctor Who and Lost episodes that I've been downloading from file torrent and although the image quality is not as good as DVD, I'd say it's still excellent enough.

And that's still not all! This player also has a USB 1.1 port that can play videos from portable flash drives or from an external hard drive. It also plays MP3s and can display JPEG images with excellent quality.

It's going to be quite a long time before we - and probably any of us for that matter - commit to a high-definition DVD player. It's still way too early to see whether HD-DVD or Blu-Ray is going to come out on top. Plus, factor in that the high-definition discs are becoming notorious for how easily they are damaged, and the general lack of titles in either format. But if you want to get the absolute most out of your HDTV set and from your existing DVD library, check out the Philips DVP 5960. This one was going for about eighty bucks at Best Buy the other week. Heck, you'll probably spend more on that darned-falootin' high-dollar HDMI cable than you will for the player itself (not to mention an HDMI switch box if you don't want to bother with plugging in a different cable every time you want to watch TV or DVD). Highly recommended for HDTV owners.


Doug Smith said...

Yeah dude, what is the deal with these sky high prices on HDMI cables?

Anonymous said...

I was wondering, what does a non-HD picture look like on an HDTV? I saw someone's wide screen LCD TV over Christmas, and he was complaining about how Time Warner Cable only had a handful of true HD channels, so few he was getting Direct TV the next day.

When he turned to non-HD channels, the picture still filled the screen but was shrunken vertically to accommodate the more rectangular screen, and it made everyone's heads looked squooshed. Shouldn't a non-HD image on a widescreen HDTV look like letterbox, only with the black bars on the sides instead of top & bottom?

Interested in getting HD sometime in mid-2007, and I'm just wondering how it all works.

Chris Knight said...

Todd, your friend has his HDTV set on "wide" or "cinema" or something because you are exactly right: in normal mode, a standard TV image will be "pillarboxed" i.e. be in between two black or gray bars on either side horizontally. He needs to change his picture settings... unless he just likes it that way. But set to normal, regular TV on an HDTV looks just fine, albeit with a little loss of sharpness because it's not as much resolution spread over a bigger space.

Dough, I've no idea why HDMI cables cost so much. That's one of the big complaints among people who have a PlayStation 3: that for all the $$$ they spent on the thing, that it doesn't include an HDMI cable in the box. There are *three* of the things hooked up to our set now: on going between the HDTV and the HDMI switch box, and one each going out from the box to the cable box and the DVD player. I got one HDMI cable included with the heavy-duty surge protector when we got the high-def set a few weeks ago and the other two came from Best Buy and Wal-Mart. If I ever get any more HDMI cables I'm getting them from Wal-Mart because (a) they're cheaper there and (b) the ones I got there were Philips gold-plated and I've played around with the cables and have seen NO signal deterioration at all in spite of these being 40 bucks cheaper. Some people spend about 200 bucks on what are called the Monster cables... but I don't really see how they're going to make that big a difference to justify cost. Different strokes for different folks I guess...