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Blu-ray & DVD players Buying Guides

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Getting started

Home-entertainment options are expanding. High-definition Blu-ray players are steadily gaining favor, and new 3D-capable models are making a splash. Regular DVD players are still available. Portable players of both types let you take the show on the road. Digital video recorders can capture HDTV content and standard-definition video.

Blu-ray players are a good match for high-definition TVs, especially 1080p models, which can display all the detail contained on Blu-ray discs. All Blu-ray players can also play standard DVDs, upconverting the video to quasi-HD resolutions for display on an HDTV, and CDs, so you can use one player for all your discs. Many new players can now stream video from the Internet, providing instant access to movies and TV episodes from Amazon Instant Video, Blockbuster on Demand, CinemaNow, Netflix, Vudu, and other online movie services, as well as free sites such as YouTube. Another exciting development: 3D-capable players, which let you enjoy three-dimensional entertainment on a 3D TV when viewed with 3D glasses.

Standard DVD players are still available. Almost all new standard players are progressive-scan models. When used with an HDTV, they can provide picture quality that's better than that of typical standard-definition TV programming. Most are "upconverting" models that can convert the video contained on regular DVDs to pseudo-HD (when viewed on an HDTV, of course). But picture quality isn't as good as true HD.

Portable Blu-ray and DVD players have a built-in screen so you can watch discs in a car, plane, or dorm room. You can also connect a portable to a TV for at-home use.

A DVD recorder lets you record standard-definition TV programs on removable discs. Digital video recorders can capture video on a hard drive. Some DVRs can record only standard-def while others can capture high-def.

This guide can help you sort through the various options to find the right model. While price is always a factor, also consider the features and brand. Make sure you check out our shopping advice, which should help you find the right model at the best price.

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