To go along with my HDTV, I decided that I needed to upgrade my DVD player. While my Insignia DVD Recorder/VCR didn’t look awful, it certainly didn’t look good. And while the quality of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are definitely impressive, the on-going format war combined with the cost made those players inviable options.
Enter the market of upconverting DVD players. These players, which take your standard 480i DVDs and scale them to high-definition resolutions are as common as regular DVD players these days. Places like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, are full of them. I’ve actually owned two of them.
I started with the highly-touted Sony DVP-NS75H which is truly a great machine. It has a great design and a super picture quality. Sadly, it only upconverted to 720p or 1080i, not 1080p as my set is capable of. While I’d like to think that I’m not a total videophile, I noticed some of the ghosting and artifacts that interlaced video can expose when put on a big screen. Despite the claim of my HD monitor to do de-interlacing, I was finding that it didn’t do an especially good job.
Enter the Philips DVP5982. Based on Philips well-received 5960 the 5982 adds support for 1080p output as well as improved USB compatibility. I returned the Sony, picked this one up, and set it up. Here are some of my observations:
The DVP5982 is a basic upconverting player that you can get for around $70. It includes an HDMI output for upconverting along with coaxial digital audio outputs, plus the standard analog outputs (component, s-video, composite, and stereo audio). There is no upconverting over the component outputs however. It supports DivX file playback (as long as they’re standard resolution and not too large) over USB from a FAT32 formatted device. The menu system on the 5982 is a bit archaic and hard to read, but it’s manageable.
What I Like:
- True 1080p output. I was suspect of whether the 1080p output would make any visible difference over the 1080i of the Sony. I was wrong, the 1080p output made a huge difference in certain troublesome scenes from movies. I had noticed with the Sony that whenever there was a light or white background (such as a white wall or the sky) and there was motion in front of it, there were artifacts left all over the screen. In the same way, motion scenes would blur and leaving ghostly lines on the screen. Those problems are largely gone with the Philips.
- DivX playback. I have a 160GB hard drive attached to the USB and loaded onto their I have various movies that I’ve captured onto my computer from my cable dvr. Rather than burning all of these onto DVD or having to hook my computer up to the TV to watch them, I can just transfer them onto this hard drive and hook them up to my DVD player and they play. Pretty much every file I’ve thrown at it has played no problem (but I don’t have any DivX HD files). The only exception was some movies that were encoded at incredibly high data rates. Even then, for the occasional really large or really high data rate file you can put it onto a DVD in DivX format and play it from the player.
- Image Quality – although its not as good as the Sony with some adjustment to my tv settings the image quality is still very good. There is some minor pinching
What I don’t like
- Audio Output – this machine will either output over the HDMI cable OR the digital coaxial out – but not both at the same time. This really is only a minor problem, but it can make things more complicated than they need to be
- The Disc Tray – The tray feels kind of floppy and cheap
- The Menu System – Simply put, it’s awful. Once you figure out the fonts and how it works, it makes sense, but the visual appearance really leaves something to be desired.
- The Image Quality – As I said above, it’s not quite on par with the Sony, although the elimination of the ghosting and artifacts make it a worthwhile trade off.
Well, seldom am I so glad I spent $70 on something. Some minor inconveniences aside, for the price you cannot beat this player if you’re looking for 1080p (or want to future-proof you DVD player). I feel very comfortable waiting out the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray battle with this player attached to my HDTV – DVDs look fantastic. The DivX playback, while somewhat limited by what USB devices can be attached, is a really nice added feature. But for me it was the combination of price and 1080p playback that convinced me – and I haven’t been disappointed.
I’ve owned the Westinghouse LVM-37w3 for about two months now.
It is a 37-inch widescreen LCD high-definition monitor. Here’s my take on it:
The LVM-37w3 is a high-definition monitor, not a television. This is an important difference in that there is no built-in tuner. You cannot connect this set directly to a coaxial cable from your wall or an antenna. You have to have some sort of source with an output (such as a dvd player, game system, cable box, computer, etc.) to connect to this set. For my use, this feature was actually a plus – not having a tuner makes this set considerably cheaper than comparable TVs, and considering how poor the over-the-air channel selection is in my area I knew I’d be using cable TV with this set.
It is a true 1080 set with a native resolution of 1920 * 1080. It can display every pixel of high-definition content that is broadcast in either 720p or 1080i. It is also capable of displaying 1080p sources through four of it’s inputs and it scales non-1080p sources up to 1080p for display.
The set has eight video inputs and seven audio inputs. It’s selection includes 1 HDMI, 2 DVI, 2 Component Video, 1 RGB, 1 S-Video, and 1-Composite input. 6 of these are high-definition capable, and four of them are cable of accepting everything input type of 480i to 1080p. The audio inputs are standard analog audio for the DVI and Component connections, built-in in the case of HDMI, and mini-stereo for the VGA. The only snag is that the s-video and composite input share a single set of analog stereo inputs. Needless to say, the chances of running out of inputs on this set is pretty slim.
What’s really good:
- This set does an outstanding job displaying whatever you throw at it. High-definition content looks as good on this set as I’ve seen on any comparable set. Basically, if the quality of the source is good – this set will display it well. I’ve hooked a dvd players, computers, and a cable box to this set and have been really impressed.
- The sheer number of inputs – with four 1080p HD inputs, plus two more component video inputs, this is a future-proof set. While two of the digital inputs are DVI rathern than HDMI, the power of HDMI to DVI cables prevents this from being a major problem with this set.
- This set also makes a great computer monitor since it has both DVI and VGA inputs. Granted, it’s a little big to have sitting on your desk, but it’d be idea to pair with a home theater PC.
- A minor feature, but a nice one it how it handles audio. In additional to the stereo inputs, there is then a stereo audio outputs that you can connect a set of speakers. Thus, this set can function as a poor-man’s stereo receiver. This also enables you to shut off the internal speakers and only hear them through your sound system.
- The price – the price on this set, given it’s features, is incredible. Comparable 37inch LCD 1080p TVs cost a couple hundred dollars more than this one.
- Autosource – this simple feature is actually quite handy. Because there are eight inputs on this set, flipping through them all can be a pain. With autosource, if the set is on, and then you turn on a device it’ll automatically detect that and switch the input for you.
What’s not so good:
- While the image is beautiful, the set itself is not. The very plain gray and metallic black design is nothing to write home about.
- When it comes to adjusting how the images are displayed there are only two options – Standard and Fill. While for HD content these two options are sufficient, when it comes to displaying older Standard Definition content it leaves a little to be desired.
- De-interlacing. While the set claims to scale all inputs up to 1080p my experience it does a better job with some inputs than it does others. Not surprisingly, the set does a decent job de-interlacing native 1080i material. The high definition material off my cable box (which is coming in at 1080i) tends to look pretty good. A little ghosting and a few artifacts here and there, but all things considered it looks solid. When accepting a 1080i input from an upconverting DVD player, the story was not nearly as good. Ghosting and artifacts were easily observed. Lesson learned: set all inputs from progressive scan if possible.
- DVI1 – there are three digital inputs on this set, HDMI, DVI1, and DVI2. The problem is that DVI1 does not work properly when connected to something that has HDCP. For my purposes, this wasn’t a huge problem – my cable box (switched to DVI mode) displayed without a problem on DVI1. But my DVD player would not – I had to use either the HDMI port or DVI2. For me, it’s a minor inconvenience because I have an HD source that will display okay, but it could be problematic.
If you’re in the market for a HDTV but don’t have tons of money to spend, the Westinghouse series is an ideal set. Good image quality, lots of HD inputs with 1080p support so you won’t have to replace it in the near future, and a great price make this a good entry-level HD set. Comparable sets also come in 42 and 47 inch versions.