The personal website of Chris Coyier

Upconversion

Samsung HD 850

There are a lot of folks out there with HDTV’s. Of course, us HD advocates want to watch as much content as we can at sweet, sweet, HD resolutions. But even our once-fancy Progressive Scan DVD Player only outputs at 480p. What’s a boy to do? Upconvert, that’s what.

A totally decent upconverting DVD player might cost you as little as $125. But before you go out and buy the first one you see at Best Buy, you need to do a little thinking about your current system.

What kind of inputs do you have on your HDTV?

My 32″ LCD has four HD inputs, one DVI, and three component. The DVI input is already being used by my Dish Network 811 receiver, so all I have left for HD inputs is component.

Most upconverting DVD players out there only offer upconversion out of the HDMI port (not component). This is not a bandwidth issue, component cables can certainly handle the data, it is that HDMI can support DRM (Digital Rights Management) and component cannot.

Here is a list of high-quality DVD Players that can offer you true upconversion over component:

  1. LG LDA 531 – I have no experience with this one, but I’ve heard it just works.

  2. Zenith DVD318 – If the build date is June ’05 or later, you need to downgrade the firmware. You should be able to find what you need googling around.

  3. Samsung DVD-HD 850 – You need to enter the a little crack to get this work. Make sure the DVD tray is empty and closed. On the remote, press ANGLE, then 4, 3, 2, 7. This turns off the HDCP, makes the player “region-free” and unlocks the upconversion feature to work over component cables. In the setup menus, the option to change the resolution is still greyed out and unchangeable, but the button on the remote control to change resolution works. I just bought an 850 this past weekend to check it out, works perfectly and looks great.

  4. NeuNeo – I’ve heard they make a pretty nice one, that is also region-free right out of the box.