Video Resolution, DVD’s and Hi-Def TV’s

So a person at work asked me a question the other day asking what 480p and 720p up scaling on DVD players meant as this person (I’ll refer to them as AK) was still using an old Playstation to play DVD’s on a brand new Hi-Def TV. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is as much of a geek like me :). So a quick answer…

For all practical purposes, TV definition is measured by vertical scanning lines, hence the 480, 720, 1080 numbers. The p stands for progressive scan. For AK, this means that the actual resolution that they are getting on their brand new Hi-Def TV is only 25% of what they could be seeing as the Playstation they are using for their DVD’s only outputs in 240p. Just using a regular 19.99 DVD player (which at a minimum will output at 480p) will double the resolution of the DVD.

So AK’s next question was what does the up scaling mean that is listed on some of the specifications the DVD players have. Another quick answer:

With the advent of Hi-Def TV’s, a way was developed to use computer chips in DVD players to adding resolution to 480 source material (DVD’s) to make them look better on larger TV’s. This is called upscaling. Most newer DVD players and Blue Ray players have this capability. Depending on the DVD, a decent case could be made that the upscaling on DVD’s looks almost as good as a Blue Ray. And please, before the comments go ballistic, I’m not saying that it looks as good as a Blue Ray, but it does look close.

So the last question from AK…Do I really need need a Blue Ray player? Hmmm..Depends..

Although at one time I’d say yes, now, I’ll say maybe. Here’s why:

1) AK gets most of the DVD’s watched via RedBox. Although some RedBox sites have Blue Ray’s, the selection of Blue Ray disks are slim at some sites.

2) Although I’m on record (see here for more specifics) as loving the combination of a Blue Ray player and HDTV, I can see reasons that it’s not necessary. Although I usually watch stuff with a lot of special effects that really pop on a Blue Ray player, if you don’t watch a lot of those types of movies, you may not get as much “bang for your buck” as someone like me.

3) Blue Ray players take a long, long time to boot up. Depending on the Blue Ray player, the updates that might be necessary, etc. I’ve seen 3 to 5 minutes before I’m actually watching the movie in question. Sorry, that’s too long for some people 🙂

4) In AK’s case, a reasonably priced upscaling DVD player will run about 30 bucks. Add a couple of bucks for HDMI cable, and viola, a much better looking picture for just a little bit of money..


SO AK…Get a dad-blamed player and stop watching DVD via your playstation!!!