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DVD FAQs

Q: Some DVDs are labeled "Fullscreen", some say "Letterboxed" and others say "Anamorphic", "Widescreen" or "Enhanced". What is the difference?
A: Short answer, always choose "Anamorphic" or "Enhanced (for widescreen or 16:9)" or "Widescreen". In most cases, all three are the same thing and they offer the best resolution and will best fit your screen, even an old 4:3 analog TV. These take the original film image and place it onto the DVD. Your DVD player and TV work to make it fit the screen in the best possible way. It maintains the highest possible resolution. "Fullscreen" DVDs are designed to fill the 4:3 screen of your old style TV. But in so doing, you loose some of the picture, usually from "pan and scan" or image compression. "Letterboxed" keeps the original aspect of the film image but it places black bars above and below the image, even on a 16:9 TV. To do this, it also drops some of the vertical image resolution, resulting in a picture that can be 33% less detailed than on an "Anamorphic" DVD.
Q: I have a widescreen HDTV but my DVDs still are displayed in a letterbox. Why do I still get those black bars?
A: If the DVD is labeled as "Letterboxed" then the format is on the disk and your player and TV have no control, (other than some various zoom enhancements). If your DVD is labeled as anamorphic or widescreen enhanced, then the letterbox is normal. The reason for the letterbox is that most films are not shot in the 16:9 format. 16:9 is an HDTV format which is "close" to film formats. Movies are shot in wider formats and when displayed on a widescreen TV will still have some black bars above and below the picture.
Q: Should I set my DVD player to 4:3 mode or 16:9 mode?
A: If you have a standard 4:3 TV, set your DVD player to 4:3 mode. If your TV has special mode for playing anamorphic widescreen DVDs, sometimes called "squeeze mode or "widescreen enhanced", then set your player to 16:9. If you have a widescreen TV, set your DVD player to the 16:9 mode.
Q: Can I play music CDs on my DVD player?
A: Yes. Nearly all DVD players can play music CDs. However, some players may have issues with CDs you make on your PC's CD-burner. DVD players will also play DVD-Audio and SACD discs. However, unless your DVD player specifically supports those formats and is properly connected to your receiver, they will play only as standard music CDs.
Q: Is it possible to connect a DVD player to a TV without RCA input jacks?
A: Yes. You will need to purchase an RF modulator; commonly available at Radio Shack. The RF modulator connects to your TV's coaxial RF connector and the DVD player's RCA cables will connect to the RF modulator.
Q: What are Region Codes and can I play other region numbers on my DVD player?
A: Region codes were created to do two things. First they were created to be compatible with the various television standards, such as NTSC, PAL and SECAM. Second, they enable distributors to exercise greater control on the distribution of their products. In the U.S. region 1 is used. You can play any disc labeled "1" or "ALL".
Q: Why is there no picture coming from the DVD Player even though the connections are correct and the movie has started?
A: Your TV may have a "TV/Video" mode, select "video". Some TVs require you to select an unused channel, usually channel 3 or 4; try selecting one of these channels. Your TV may have several input selection options. Determine the input to which your DVD player is connected and select that input on your TV. If you are connecting through your A/V receiver, make sure it is turned on and the correct input is selected.
Q: Should I choose a Blu-Ray DVD or HD-DVD player?
A: Toshiba, the patent owner of HD-DVD, threw in the towel on the format war. Blu-Ray is the standard for high-definition DVDs. The two standards produced nearly identical results, with Blu-Ray having higher capacity per disc but Toshiba had lower production costs and a few esoteric advantages. If you already own an HD-DVD player, you can get bargains on HD-DVD's; most selling for a fraction of their original price. Additionally, your player will continue to play standard DVDs, which will still be around for a fair amount of time. The price of Blu-Ray players is still relatively higher and the discs are, in our opinion, overpriced. We'd like to see some price reductions before we recommend a move into building a Blu-Ray library.




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