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DVD Player: The Entertainment Source

The final electronic component in your home theater system is the DVD player. Technically, this is a DVD/CD player, since every DVD player is also a CD player. So you can toss your old CD player and use your new DVD player to play back all your music CDs. (Remember—you don't have to turn on your TV to listen to CDs through your DVD player!)

DVD players can be purchased for under $100 these days, although you can spend more—a lot more—if you like. You might consider these extra features:

  • Progressive scan provides a better picture when connected to a television monitor via component video connection; for best performance, look for a model that offers 3-1 pull-down processing, which makes film-based sources look more lifelike.

  • Multiple-disc changers are probably more useful for loading a handful of music CDs than for playing one movie right after another.

  • DVD recorders let you burn your own discs.

As with A/V receivers, when you want a true quality unit, perform the weight test. The better DVD players use sturdier components, and weigh a little more. Lightweight players might not survive a lot of heavy use.

There are so many different brands of DVD players that it's difficult to make a recommendation. I tend to shy away from the no-name brands, and go with models that match other components in my system—from manufacturers like Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, and the like.

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