Did you get a HDTV for Christmas?

If you did and you hooked up your old $23 DVD player you bought from K-Mart and thought your DVDs looked like crap, then please do yourself a favor and go get an upscaling DVD player. If you don’t think your DVDs looked like crap go return your HDTV, you don’t deserve it.

When I first heard about upscaling DVD players I thought it was a cheap marketing ploy. Regular DVDs use the MPEG2 video codec and when you blow up MPEG2 big, on say a computer, it looks much worse than the original. HDTVs can do 720p, 1080i, and/or 1080p which just means your DVDs are being scaled bigger than they were on your standard definition TV. So how the hell could an upscaling DVD player make your DVDs look better by doing something which logically would make the video quality worse?

Magic!

There is a chip in the upscaling DVD player that de-interlaces the original interlaced MPEG2 from your DVDs and also scales it up to HD sizes. Really good DVD players from three years ago would simply de-interlace (or make a progressive signal) your DVD’s MPEG2. Upscale DVD players both scale and de-interlace now. I tried to find out how exactly this happens, and how it seems to do such a good job, but I couldn’t so I will be sticking with “magic” as my answer for now.

So if you received a HDTV for Christmas and you are thinking about buying either a HD-DVD or Blu-ray player to make things look pretty again then STOP! Let those two formats beat each other into a bloody pulp and do what all smart cowards do: support the one still standing after the battle ends. In the meantime go buy that upscaling DVD player for for a sixth of the cost of Blu-ray and enjoy your current DVD collection in surprisingly good quality on your new HDTV… unless, of course, all your DVDs are not anamorphic then they will still look like crap.

Helpful Wikipedia links to terms used in this article: Anamorphic, MPEG2, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, Progressive Scan, Interlacing, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, 1080p, Your Mom.