What Is a Upconvert DVD Player?
Several years after high-definition (HD) media players such as Blu-Ray and HD-DVD were first introduced to the mass market, prices for players and discs are still too steep for many consumers not yet ready to replace their DVD collections. Many of these same consumers, however, own at least one HDTV and are interested in HD video. The solution for manufacturers was to introduce upconvert DVD players as a mediator between standard DVDs and HD media. But for the many who still have yet to fully grasp the concept of HD, the obvious question is, “What is an upconvert DVD player?” First, you must understand the differences between standard DVD and HD media.
From DVD to HD
The great gap that upconverters attempt to bridge is the leap from standard definition video (SD) used by DVD players to high-definition video (HD). HD video provides sharper details, a greater variety of colors that appear more richly on the screen, and overall higher quality.
DVD players present images in a resolution of 480 (known as 480i) by a process called “interlacing.” In this process, 480 alternating lines are displayed on a screen at once to create a picture. On a standard set, DVD quality looks fine. When displayed on HD sets, however, flickers often result, and details appear blurry. Standard DVD quality suffers in the transfer from an SD set to an HD set for the same reason that the quality of a small video online suffers when you switch it to full screen mode; the heightened resolution forces the image to stretch itself to a size it was never meant to be stretched to.
High-definition media can handle far higher resolutions that use a process called “progressive scan” to deliver a picture to the screen without loss of quality. Instead of alternating lines, progressive scan displays all lines of video at once. This results in a much more detailed, stable image.
How It Works
While upconvert DVD players will never produce true HD quality, they do improve greatly upon the quality of standard DVDs.
Once connected to a TV, the upconvert DVD player interprets information from the original source on the DVD and broadcasts the image in a high-definition resolution. By employing a process known as “scaling,” upconverters take information from the surrounding video and through numerous calculations create new pieces of video that compensate for motion and details that may have been missing in the standard resolution.
The resulting onscreen image does not include more details, but the already present details appear sharper. In place of what would otherwise have been a fuzzy, stretched image, an upconvert DVD player provides users with a picture with colors that are richer and details that are more vibrant.
Upconvert DVD players are meant to be the “middlemen” between standard DVD and HD. While not approaching HD-level quality, they can provide a boost to the picture quality of a standard DVD.