the internals of a DVD player

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DVD Players

This page relates to a hardware device used to play DVDs. For the Apple software program, see DVD Player (Apple). more...

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A DVD player is a device for playing video DVDs. Most hardware DVD players have to be connected to a television set; there are also some small portable devices which have an LCD screen attached.

A DVD player has to complete these tasks:

  • Read a DVD disk in UDF version 2 format
  • optionally decrypt the data with either CSS and/or Macrovision
  • decode the MPEG-2 video stream with a maximum of 10 Mbit/s (peak) or 8 Mbit/s (continuous)
  • decode sound in MP2, PCM or AC-3 format and output (with optional AC-3 to stereo downsampling) on stereo connector, optical or electric digital connector
  • output a video signal, either an analog one (in PAL, SECAM or NTSC format) on the color video signal connector, or a digital one on the DVI output connector

Most DVD players also allow users to play audio CDs (CDDA, MP3, etc.) and Video CDs (VCD) and include a home cinema decoder (i.e. Dolby Digital, Digital Theatre System (DTS)). Some newer devices also play videos in the DivX video compression format popular on the internet.

As of 2005, retail prices for such a device, depending on its optional features (such as digital sound or video output), start between 30 and 80 USD/euros.

By far the largest producer of DVD players is China; in 2002 they produced 30 million players, more than 70% of the world output. These producers have to pay about US$20 per player in license fees, to the patent holders of the DVD technology (Sony, Philips, Pioneer and LG Electronics) as well as for MPEG-2 licenses. To avoid these fees, China has developed the EVD standard as an intended successor of DVD; as of 2004, EVD players were only being sold in China.

Software DVD players are programs that allow to view DVD videos on a computer with a DVD-ROM drive. Some examples are the VLC media player and MPlayer (both free software, but allegedly with unclear patent violation), WinDVD, PowerDVD (for-fee) and DVD Player. In many people's experience, the for-fee software does not quite stand up to the open-source rivals in image quality and CPU load.

See also:

  • CD
  • CD-ROM
  • VCR
  • DVD recorder


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