Updated February 15, 2020 by Christopher Thomas

The 10 Best DVD Players

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in December of 2015. If you're looking for a low-cost way to view your movie collection and other media, one of these DVD players ought to do the trick. We've included straightforward units designed for connecting to TVs, some of which can play back standard and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs at a reasonable cost. There are also some great portable options with built-in batteries, some of which can still output to TVs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best dvd player on Amazon.

10. LG DP132

9. ApeMan PV770

8. Orei Z9H

7. Sony SR510H

6. Philips 1502

5. DBPower PD928

4. Panasonic UB420

3. Jinhoo HD

2. Dr. Q Portable

1. Panasonic S700

Editor's Notes

February 12, 2020:

If you don't need or want to invest in a pricey 4K Blu-ray player, there are plenty of simpler options available. The LG DP132 is about as simple as they come, and, like the Orei Z9H, is compatible with discs from regions 1 through 6, so you shouldn't have any trouble playing movies from other parts of the world. The Jinhoo HD is similarly versatile, plus it has an HDMI output and can play a variety of home-recorded video and audio files.

If you'd rather stick with a more reputable brand without paying too much, the Panasonic S700 is an all-around great performer that does a good job at upscaling DVDs to look better on modern TVs. The same is true of the Sony SR510H, although it is locked to region 1 DVDs, so it can only play North American films and TV shows.

Those with collections of either 4K or standard Blu-ray movies should consider the Ultra HD Panasonic UB420 or Full HD Philips 1502. They're both highly reliable and available for under $200, so they're great for budget-friendly home theater setups.

There are also quite a few portable DVD players on the market, though you'll want to be careful to stick with those that are the most dependable, as there are plenty of no-name brands that produce portable devices of questionable quality. In that light, the ApeMan PV770 is just about the most compact, the DBPower PD928 a good mid-size option, and the Dr. Q Portable an excellent large-format choice.

Layers Of Technology

A typical DVD is made from several layers of clear polycarbonate plastic that add up to a thickness of around 1.2 millimeters.

I can still recall the days when people figured that the VHS format was the pinnacle of video playback technology and that nothing would ever top it. Heck, I still remember being at the local Sam Goody video store on February 28, 1995 in anticipation of the release of Disney's The Lion King on VHS tape. For a kid, the opportunity to own and record movies and television programming using tapes was supremely exciting. That said, so was watching the technology evolve into the DVD and Blu Ray devices we know today. Both can play back standard definition digital video content from something no larger than a CD. By eliminating the concern for rapidly-degrading analog magnetic tape in favor of long-term digital data preservation, CD player technology ultimately helped set the stage for the development of the DVD player.

The DVD player is a device specifically-designed for the playback of various optical disc media, including the digital video disc. Many of these units are compatible with audio CDs as well. Depending on your preferences, DVD players are available as either self-contained, portable units with built-in LCD screens and speakers, or as hardware devices connected directly to a television for video playback on a big screen.

Before we jump into the parts of a DVD player and how they work, it's important to understand the general makeup of a DVD itself and how the player will utilize its overall construction. A typical DVD is made from several layers of clear polycarbonate plastic that add up to a thickness of around 1.2 millimeters. The DVD production process results in the formation of microscopic pits (or bumps) on the surface of each disc arranged together in a single, continuous, and extremely long spiral track of data from the center of the media. This is similar in design to a traditional vinyl record. A DVD player's job is to ultimately find these pits and "read" the data for playback.

Four major components of a DVD player include a disc drive mechanism, optical system, tracking system, and a printed circuit board. The disc drive mechanism includes a loading tray, used to accept a disc, and a precisely-controlled spindle motor that rotates the disc at a rate of between 200 and 500 revolutions per minute, depending on the data track being read. The optical system consists of a red laser diode, lenses, a prism, photodetectors, and mirrors, all of which work in tandem to focus on the small pits on the DVD disc throughout the data track. The tracking system allows the entire laser assembly to move so that the laser beam can follow this data track. The laser beam hits the pits and bumps on a disc's surface, while also being reflected in a manner dependent on the arrangement of the pits. This reflected laser light is ultimately collected by the photodetectors, which convert the signal into a binary code. The printed circuit board is equipped with a digital to analog converter, which translates this binary code into analog audio and video signals that are amplified for playback on a television.

Choosing A DVD Player

If you want to experience as close to high-definition entertainment as possible without making the plunge for a Blu-ray device, consider a model with the ability to upscale your DVD media. One capable of progressive scanning will certainly help make that easier.

Think about the available connections on the back of your unit of choice. A DVD player with a component video output allows both the luminance and color signals to be delivered through separate wires, minimizing signal degradation during the transfer from the player to a television. Also, a USB input is a great addition to your device when you want to view JPEG photos or play back a variety of video files on a larger screen.

If you still have a lot of VHS tapes in your collection, consider a 2-in-1 option capable of both playing and recording your tapes to blank DVD media. Additionally, a unit that can play back homemade CDs and MP3 files can come in handy if you don't have a dedicated CD player at your disposal.

A Brief History Of DVD Players

The world’s first DVD player was the Toshiba SD-3000 released in November 1996. It was considered a revolutionary breakthrough in home video entertainment. The compatible discs made for this unit were approximately 12 centimeters in diameter and could store both digital audio and video content for playback.

The compatible discs made for this unit were approximately 12 centimeters in diameter and could store both digital audio and video content for playback.

DVD players were introduced to the United States consumer market beginning in 1997 with distribution limited to only several major cities at first. By the end of the year 2000, the cost for DVD player hardware dropped dramatically from over $1,000 to around $100. That same year, the Sony Corporation released the PlayStation 2 gaming console, which could play games developed specifically for the system along with retail DVD media, making it a big selling point for the masses. By the end of 2003, nearly 1,000 different models of DVD player existed from over 100 electronic manufacturers.

Following the success of the DVD player, the first prototype high-definition Blu-ray player was released in 2003 with continued development until 2006. This fueled the beginning of the HD format war between Sony's Blu-ray disc technology and Toshiba's HD-DVD format. Blu-ray ultimately prevailed and became the high-definition optical disc format of choice by 2008. Today's Blu-ray player advantage is its backward compatibility with the DVD format, giving consumers the ability to use their Blu-ray players as standard and high-definition playback devices at the same time.

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Christopher Thomas
Last updated on February 15, 2020 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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