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How do I select a DVD player?

What recording options are available?

The latest range of recorders allows you to pick and choose your recording options. You can record to VHS, DVD or straight to the built-in hard drive of your recorder.

A hard drive and DVD recorder gives you maximum convenience. Record any TV that you want to keep to a disc, and anything you might watch just once, to the hard drive for easy deleting once you’ve watched it.

Another great benefit of the hard drive recorder is that you can pause live TV – great if the doorbell rings, or you need to nip out of the room.

If all this technology sounds just what you’re looking for, but you don’t want to lose your existing video collection, go for a model that allows you to transfer VHS tapes to DVD.

Which option is right for me?

Depending on how you wish to use your new DVD, there are a number of options currently available to suit all budgets:

  • Blu-ray player - Records, rewrites and plays Blu-ray disks in High Definition. It will also record HDTV. You can watch standard DVDs too. If you watch a lot of movies, or want the best picture quality, this is the one for you.
  • DVD player - Simply plays your DVDs. The most affordable and easy-to-use option if you buy or hire films and are happy watching live TV.
  • DVD recorder - Plays DVDs and records onto blank discs. A low budget way to watch again and replace your video recorder.
  • DVD recorder/VCR - Plays and records to DVD or VHS. You can also transfer your old VHS tapes to DVD. A good compromise if you want to carry on using video technology while you update your library to DVD.
  • DVD hard drive recorder - Plays and records DVDs to blank discs, and saves TV directly to the built-in hard drive. Gives you everything you need, if you no longer use video.
  • DVD hard drive recorder/VCR - Plays and records DVDs and VHS tapes and saves TV directly to the built-in hard drive. Also transfers from VHS to DVD. A worthwhile investment if you want the best of all worlds.
  • Ultra portable laptop - Plays DVDs using lithium batteries or AC connection. Affordable and great for holidays, business travel or keeping the children occupied on long journeys.

What is 1080p upscaling?

Many of the latest DVD players and recorders allow you to take advantage of the High Definition (HD) capability of your LCD or Plasma TV by upscaling the standard DVD picture signal. 

Some players and recorders can even upscale to 1080p or Full HD, the highest quality HD picture possible at present. Although this won’t give you a true HD signal, you will experience a much better picture than you would without upscaling.

To upscale your DVDs you will also need to connect your player/recorder to your TV with a HDMI cable.

In order to get a true HD/1080p signal you will need a Blu-ray player. If you choose this option, it will not only play your standard DVD’s but it will upscale them too.


Blu-ray technology allows you to record, rewrite and playback in High Definition. Blu-ray discs also provide more than five times the storage capacity of standard DVDs. These premier player/recorders are ideal for watching your favourite films or nature programmes in stunning High Definition.

Watch our video to find out more about Blu-ray.

How do I connect my player/recorder to my TV?

SCART is the analogue method for sending the picture and sound from the HD source to your TV. It won’t give you a High Definition or up scaled picture, but it’s the cheapest option.


This is the most advanced way of connecting your DVD player or recorder to your TV and carries a High Definition signal. It works in the same way as a scart lead, but is completely digital so you get minimal interference and maximum quality every time you watch. In return, you will need to pay more upfront for the lead. You will need a HDMI lead to watch Blu-ray discs in High Definition on a Blu-ray player.

If the player/recorder includes an up scaling feature you will need to use a HDMI cable for this feature to work, although it will play without up scaling using a standard scart lead.

Some DVDs also have the following connections:

  • USB – transfer digital still photos and view them on your TV screen.
  • I-Link – transfer digital camcorder recordings to DVD.
  • SD card slot – view your digital photos on your TV screen or transfer recorded movies to the hard drive.

Can I play anything other than standard DVDs

There are a few different formats available as well as standard DVD:

  • DIVX - Download movies in DIVX format and save them to a DVD disc.
  • MP3 - Download music in MP3 format and save them to disc.
  • JPEG - Save your digital photos to disc and view them on your TV screen.

Do I need to buy a recorder with an integrated digital tuner?

Although a VCR or DVD recorder with an analogue tuner will still record from your TV, providing the TV has a digital tuner, you will not be able to record one channel whilst watching another after the digital switchover. To do this you will need a DVD recorder with a digital tuner.

Find out more in our guide to the digital switchover.

Now you know what to look out for, browse our range of Blu-ray and DVD players online or talk to our experts at your nearest Comet store to choose the one that’s right for you.

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