Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.


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    Chapter 28. DVD-players

    DVD-video has to be played, and this is done with devices like:

  • A computer with a DVD drive.

  • A Sony PlayStation2.

  • An ordinary DVD player.

    If you use your computer for playing videos, then you just have to have a DVD drive.

    It can be an ok experience seeing a DVD on a computer, if the screen is good, and there is a sound card with loudspeakers connected. There are many, who have a PlayStation2 connected to a television who take advantage of the game machine’s ability to play DVDs, which is quite smart. But the most widespread player is the well-known DVD-Video home player:

    Figure 201. An ordinary DVD player.

    Multiplayer

    A DVD player is a fantastic product, which is still being developed with new facilities. A DVD was originally a ”high-end” product, where the player cost about 10.000 kr. But in the course of a few years the prices slumped down to about a tenth of the price. You can buy a DVD player today for about 6-800 kroner, which is almost cheaper than a VHS player.

    And a DVD player can do much more than play films. DVD was from the start meant as a flexible media with a variety of applications. This also apparently applied to the player; because as time went by more and more functions were put into it, so that you today get a real multiplayer, which ”eats” almost any sort of plastic disk with digital contents. You can feed it with a large number of formats:

  • CD-R and CD-RW, plus normal audio CDs and CDs with mp3 files.

  • Video- and Super Video-CD plus DVD-Video (perhaps code free) with 5.1 channels surround sound.

  • DVD-Audio or SACD, plus DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW.

  • CDs with JPEG files (Digital Still) and Kodak Photo-CD.

  • Display of MPEG files, AVI files, WMA files, etc. stored on CD.

  • CDs with DivX-film.

  • Memory cards from digital cameras.

    It is far from all DVD players, however, that can work with all formats. The first four formats are reasonably widespread. The newer players have, in different degrees – support for the rest of the formats. If you are going to buy new equipment you have to be very aware of which standards the products have:

    Figure 202. A modern DVD player can, in fact, play many different things …

    The is a lot of difference in the players, and the more formats, the more pleasure you will get out of your investment.

    Figur 203. DVD player from Danish Kiss, which can play many formats.

    One of the newer technologies, which are talked about a lot, is called progressive scan. A screen image on a television consists of a number of horizontal lines. Updating is normally interlaced. This means that two frames are, in fact, used to update the whole of the screen image, as lines 1, 3, 5 etc. are updated first. In the next frame, the lines 2, 4, 6, etc. are updated. By using progressive scan the screen image can be updated twice as quickly as otherwise, as there is a circuit in DVD players, which process the video signals so that the whole screen image is updated with each frame.

    Progressive scan gives a clearly better image, and can be displayed on projectors, plasma screens or other devices, which can receive analog video signals via the three component plugs (see page 3). Not all DVD players have this function.

    Plugs and connections

    A DVD player can be connected both to a television and to a stereo / surround system. The video signal can be transmitted to the television in several ways.

     

    Plug

    Quality

    Video Out with AV cable

    Good

    S-Video

    Better

    SCART jack

    Better

    Component

    Best

    Figure 204. A SCART plug is to be preferred, if you can’t use a component interface. The most flexible solution is a good stereo television with two SCART plugs. Its always a good thing with several SCART plugs, the better DVD players also have two plugs, which makes it easy to connect a satellite receiver, a decoder or a VHS machine.

    Figure 205. It is a real advantage with double SCART plugs.

    If you connect the DVD player to the stereo system, then you should use the analog Audio output (with RCA phono plugs), which is connected to an AUX input on the amplifier or receiver. Then you can both play normal CDs and mp3 disks (with 12 hours of music).

    Figure 206. On the left the analog audio plugs (4 RCA-phono plugs). Next, the video plugs, composite and S-Video. On the right the digital audio outputs.

    If you have a surround system, then you should fetch pure digital audio signals, for example, with an optical cable.

    DVD players

    There is a lot that points towards the fact that in the future, a VHS recorder will be a DVD+RW player/recorder. There is a DVD machine, which can record from the television and other sources. You can, in fact, store up to six hours of video on a DVD disk. Philips is one of the leading companies within this area and they expect to sell a lot of these DVD devices. There is a built-in FireWire port, so you can transmit video from a DV camera directly into a DVD.

    Figure 207. The prize-awarded DVD recorder Philips DVDR890. Today we find a lot of hard disk-based recorders as well.

    Regional codes

    Feature films in DVD format are distributed in several regional “codes”. This is a pure marketing initiative, where the world is divided into six regions:

    Figure 208. DVD regions

    When you play a film, the player has to conform to the region the film is written for. Films are, you see, distributed in different versions – with different contents and for very different prices. They are coded, so that they can (ideally) only be played in a certain region.

    Some DVD drives and players can be re-coded up to five times. So you can try and play a film from region 1 and from region 2 a couple of times but after that the player will be locked to one region. Luckily, most players can be modified so that they are ”code-free”. This isn’t something companies advertise with, but many workshops can perform a little operation for 500 kr. These regions are not at all advantageous for users. The film companies use the system to divide the market up. The same film can be introduced for a much higher price in region 2. I think it is an indecent system, which is a nuisance for ordinary users.

    Figure 209. DVDdisk with various ”features”. Note than this CD is for region 1.

    If you buy a DVD abroad, there is a chance that you cannot play it when you get home. These sorts of initiatives contribute to the users’ distrust of the entertainment industry and probably promote, in the last instance, pirate copying further.

    Home burnt video disks on DVD

    I have often mentioned video disks in VCD and SVCD formats. We are talking about normal CDs, which you can burn with contents from multimedia:

  • Video recordings from analog and digital sources.

  • Still images, for example from digital cameras.

  • Texts, transitions, etc.

  • Audios, music, recorded texts, etc.

  • Menus.

    All this data can be burnt together in, for example, a VCD-format, where you can have up to 68 minutes of recording in VHS quality –with audio in a good quality. You just need a program like Studio 8, as shown earlier.

    If you choose a SVCD format, you will get a quality, which is almost the same as DVD. You can have between 34 and 42 minutes on the disk, dependent on which bit rate you have selected, as seen in Figure 210.

    Figure 210. Playing time on a SVCD is dependent on the size of the bit rate you have encoded it with.

    If you are so lucky to have a DVD burner, then you can burn up to 175 minutes of video in a DVD-like quality, if you select a bit rate of 3 Mbit/sec. If you want the absolutely best quality (with a data stream of 8 Mbit/sec), then there can only be 69 minutes of recordings.

    Figure 211. Pinnacle Studio 8 can burn video directly onto a DVD.


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