You really do not need to invest in expensive HD DVD or Blu-ray disks and players for your high definition television when upconverting DVD players (also called upscaling DVD players) are available at a fraction of the cost. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that the quality from the latest generation of upconverting/upscaling players is very close to that of high definition players. While you will not be able to see individual hairs on the actors (you cannot create image details that so not exist in the recording), the image quality with upscaling players is superior to that of a standard DVD player.
Upconverting players take a standard DVD resolution (720 x 480) and converts it to either an 1080i or 1080p (1920 x 1080) high definition signal using interpolation. Interpolation adds more pixels to a standard image and then estimates and fills in the proper colors based upon a new pixel’s surrounding colors. It basically averages the surrounding colors and selects the best color for the new pixel. Although the fine details and sharpness are not quite the same as with a Blu-ray or HD DVD disk and player, the image is greatly improved over standard DVD and is quite impressive.
If you are looking for a high definition player for your HDTV, choose a Blu-ray player. HD DVD is rapidly losing the high definition format war and will very likely become obsolete before the end of 2008. All high definition players will play standard DVD disks and most have a built-in upconverting feature. Make sure that you read the specifications before you buy, because some of the players only upscale to 1080i. For the full high definition experience, you should look for a player that upconverts to 1080p. You will of course need a high definition television with 1080p resolution in order to experience the same.
There are many standard DVD players with an upconverting feature. Most sell for about $100, which is a bargain compared to the $300 to $700 price tag you will pay for a Blu-ray player. If you are going to go with a standard DVD upconverting player, look for one that upscales to 1080p. Many of the players also require an HDMI connector in order to achieve 1080p, so do ask that question before you buy. An HDMI connector is a special interface used for high definition video and audio signals. If you HDTV does not have an HDMI connector, then make sure that both devices use a component video connection. Component video and HDMI are the only two interfaces capable of conveying full high definition signals.
Why should I consider upscaling standard DVDs rather than investing in Blu-ray?
Cost is the major factor. Most Blu-ray disks are priced around $30, while standard DVD formats are in the $10 to $20 range. Older movies can be found for $5. I have already mentioned the huge price difference between Blu-ray players and standard DVD upconverting players. The bottom line is that you can achieve results that are very close to full high definition without spending a huge amount of money.