Why is it not common to record from DVD players?

Answer questions

Who actually developed DVD?
DVD is a world standard that was developed jointly by well-known companies in the hardware and software industry from all over the world and which has meanwhile been adopted by practically all companies on the world market.
The leading companies in the DVD Forum have been: Hitachi, JVC, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Philips, Pioneer, Sony, Thomson, Time Warner and Toshiba. Since autumn 1997, Sanyo and Sharp have also been part of it. The group that developed DVD-Audio includes 40 companies from hardware and software, as well as the computer and semiconductor industries.

Can you record on the DVD yourself?
In principle yes, but not yet like with a video recorder. The previously known systems are mainly intended as data storage for computers. On the one hand there is the DVD-RAM, on which you can record yourself and overwrite it almost as often as you like, but which cannot be played in conventional DVD players. A DVD-R, which offers one-time recording without the possibility of overwriting or deleting, is already available. DVD-RW video recorders as well as those based on the DVD-RAM principle are already on the market in Japan; the European launch has not yet been determined, DVD + RW video recorders are planned for summer 2001.

Does that mean that in the future you will record on DVDs instead of VHS cassettes?
Not quite. It is true that you can record very large amounts of data quickly, conveniently and inexpensively on DVD-R and DVD-RAM. First of all, this speaks in favor of use in computers, elaborate graphics, etc. As far as a possible replacement of the VHS system by DVD is concerned, there are currently two main obstacles in the way: First, the Hollywood studios have made sure that their Cannot dub DVDs to DVD-R or DVD-RAM. Second, transferring video films you have recorded yourself from the camcorder is currently not so easy. You have to transfer the video program to DVD format, i.e. digitize it to MPEG-2. And that is still time-consuming and expensive today. This compression process has been specially designed so that all complicated and expensive steps take place on the recording side, so that the decoders on the playback side can be designed inexpensively. But compression technology has made progress in the meantime, and so the first DVD-RAM and DVD + RW video recorders are announced for the end of 2000.

Do you use DVD in video camcorders?
Yes. This not only gives you a compact and mechanically relatively unproblematic drive, you can also edit within the DVD and do not need to transfer to an external editing system or a second video recorder. A great deal of effort is made for the recording: Such devices may be exposed to violent shocks and these would throw the laser off the track. As you can see from the example of the MiniDisc, this is not so bad for playback, because there is a buffer that the system can use for a short time until the laser has found the track again. When recording, however, you also have to use a second laser system. The second has to constantly check whether what the first wrote is correct and the electronics have to ensure that any defective parts are fetched from the buffer and written again.

Will the DVD soon supplement or replace the VHS cassettes in rental shops?
Actually, everything speaks for it. The picture and sound quality are vastly better, the ease of use is incomparable and, above all, the DVD does not wear out even from frequent playback. When and to what extent the DVD will find its way into rental shops depends almost exclusively on the richness of the films on offer. As soon as there will be enough films, they will also be in the video library.

How does DVD image resolution compare to other media?
With VHS, the horizontal resolution is in the region of 240 lines (color) and 270 lines (black / white). The large laser disc, which is rarely used in Europe, has 425 lines and DVD reaches more than 540 lines, provided, of course, that the source material is of sufficient quality.

PAL works with 625 horizontal lines, NTSC with 525. Is that why the picture quality of an NTSC DVD is worse?
It's no worse, for two reasons: First, because, strictly speaking, there are no PAL and NTSC DVDs. These terms are used to describe the various systems for interleaving brightness and color information, but on DVDs these two pieces of information are clearly separated from each other. To be correct, one would have to speak of 625/50 and 525/60 - what kind of video signal is ultimately sent to the television is only decided in the playback device. It follows from this that all the impairments to the picture quality that are known from NTSC TV pictures cannot even occur with DVD. Second, the slightly lower number of lines on 525/60 DVDs does not result in poorer picture sharpness. Only the height of the image is a bit lower here. But this difference is so small that you hardly notice it. In contrast to recorded VHS cassettes, DVD imports from Japan can have the same image quality as European productions.

Some DVD players have a "progressive output". What advantages does it offer?
Here, the image is not output in the form of 50 fields per second, as usual, but with 25 full images. This can lead to an increased impression of sharpness in cinema films, but only in conjunction with projectors or displays that can also process this format, which is unusual in Europe. It should also be borne in mind that the "progressive output" of the DVD player, even if this is hardly ever stated in the brochures, only works with 525/60 (NTSC) DVDs.

MPEG-2 was originally intended to become the standard for multi-channel sound in Europe. Practically all DVDs available here contain Dolby Digital (AC-3). Has the standard been changed?
Of course, it is impractical to have two different multichannel sound systems, although there are good arguments for one as well as the other. However, Dolby Digital (AC-3) could well become the de-facto standard worldwide. The regulations for the DVD standard were changed in December 1997 to the effect that MPEG-2 as a multi-channel sound system for 625/50 DVDs is no longer compulsory, but only allowed as an add-on. Since December 5, 1997 it has been mandatory for European DVDs that one of the following 3 sound systems is used: Linear PCM (mono or stereo), MPEG (mono, stereo or 5 + 1-channel) Dolby Digital (mono, stereo or 5 + 1 channel). Other systems are permitted, but only in addition to one of the three compulsory systems. This means that the software manufacturers can now use Dolby Digital on European DVDs without having to put any form of MPEG on the DVD at the same time. .

Can DTS multi-channel sound also be possible on DVDs?
Yes. The DVD standard allows it, provided that at least one of the prescribed audio formats is available on the DVD (see the previous question) At the end of November 1997, Yamaha presented the 7-channel amplifier DSP-A1 in the USA, which can be operated via Decoder for Dolby Digital (AC-3) and DTS. On this occasion, DTS announced that it would initially release 5 - 6 DVDs with DTS sound in the USA in March 1998. At the same press conference, however, DTS Managing Director David Delgrosso had to admit that this audio format cannot be output by today's DVD players. First and second generation DVD players only reproduce stereo sound from DTS-encoded DVDs, which according to the DVD standard must be on it in any case. The question of when or at all DVD devices that can also output DTS multi-channel sound will ever come onto the market could not be answered by either DTS or Yamaha at the time. One year later, at the beginning of 1999, DTS released the first 12 DVDs, initially exclusively for the American market. In Europe, the first DTS DVD ("Run Lola Run") came out after the Berlin radio exhibition in 1999, and there are now more. Newer DVD players can also output the DTS data stream, and players that have the DTS decoder already installed are already on the market.

The first and second generation DVD video players cannot play DTS surround sound. Can you retrofit them accordingly?
No. These devices only output stereo sound.

Do you need a decoder to hear the audio tracks on a DVD-V?
No, as long as you are satisfied with mono, stereo and Dolby Surround. Because these sound formats are output by every DVD player at its RCA (Cinch) sockets. Whether it comes out in mono, stereo or Dolby Surround depends on what is on the DVD. With old films the sound is definitely in mono, newer productions mostly offer stereo with Dolby Surround. You only need a decoder if you want surround sound with 5 + 1 completely separate channels, all of which offer the full frequency range. Whether these decoders are built into the player or in the downstream amplifier or receiver does not matter from a technical point of view.

There are three different formats for surround sound with perfectly separated channels, Dolby Digital (AC-3), MPEG-2 and DTS. The decoders for this are already built into some DVD players, other companies offer decoders separately. What is better?
There is no general answer to that, because both can be constructed well or sloppily. Separate decoders are inevitably more expensive, because an independent device requires its own housing, its own power supply unit, its own box, its own instruction manual and so on. However, these components usually also offer extended setting and variation options.

Are THX DVD Players Better Than Others?
Not necessarily, because a device does not have to meet any special requirements for it to be able to bear the THX logo. Apart from license fees, THX almost only demands things that are taken for granted. The player must have analog and digital audio jacks and video outputs for composite and S-video. All taken for granted. THX-certified DVD players must be able to read CD-R and CD-RW, but component or SCART outputs are not mandatory, they are only recommended. In addition, the device should be reliable, ergonomic to use and quiet.

What audio amplifiers do you need for DVD?
That depends on your needs. In principle, you don't need any, because you can play the sound through the loudspeakers of your television set. But there is much more to the DVD: You get wonderful stereo sound when you connect the DVD player to your stereo system. It gets even better if you have a Dolby Surround system. Their amplifier only has a stereo input, but it turns it into an impressive surround sound that is reproduced via 5 loudspeakers. By far the greatest experience is offered by surround sound with 5 separate channels in the formats Dolby Digital 5 + 1 (also called AC-3), MPEG-2 or DTS. The decoder (which can already be built into the DVD player) delivers 5 separate audio signals (and a 6th, optional). To make them audible, you need a surround amplifier that has 5 (or 6) separate inputs, 5 (or 6) separate amplifier channels and 5 (or 6) speaker outputs. The 6th channel is not absolutely necessary, so the system is not called 6-channel, but 5 + 1-channel. But it offers the ultimate for film freaks. This channel only contains extremely low tones and provides the ultimate pressure in the stomach area via a subwoofer in the event of explosions, earthquakes and the like.

What kind of speakers do you need for DVD?

Here too: It depends on your requirements. In principle it works with headphones or with any mono, stereo or Dolby surround arrangement. However, since the multichannel systems Dolby Digital, MPEG-2 and DTS are able to reproduce the full frequency range over all 5 audio channels, the optimum to be striven for undoubtedly consists of five identical loudspeakers. Surround loudspeaker packages from different manufacturers with smaller loudspeakers for the surround channels or with a "dialog-optimized" center loudspeaker represent compromises which, however, can also sound very impressive in individual cases. If you need the ultimate kick in the pit of your stomach, you can also purchase a subwoofer that amplifies the very lowest frequencies.

Why are there DVD players with 10-bit video D / A converters where the signal on the DVD itself is only recorded with 8 bits?
For the same reason that there are also compact disc players with 18-bit D / A converters, although the audio coding on the CD is 16-bit: this allows more nuances to be displayed in the critical area. In the case of video, this means that gray values ​​can be graded a little more finely or movements can be resolved in more detail so that no digital side effects occur. However, one should not overestimate the possibilities of higher quality D / A converters. The quality of the software is decisive for the image quality.

How do you care for DVDs?
The best way to do this is by not touching its shiny side and making sure that it remains undamaged. A single scratch is less bad than the thousands of tiny, invisible scratches that result from placing a DVD with the shiny side down on a table, no matter how clean. If a DVD is dirty, it is best to clean it with a soft, possibly slightly dampened cloth. But please not with circular movements, but with straight, tangential or radial movements across the plate.

Which DVD Player is the Best?
That cannot be answered any more than the question of the best car. It depends on your wishes for equipment, the area of ​​application, the design, the asking price and many other factors - and these are very individual.


Can DVD video players play music CDs?
Yes, all of them. One could even claim that a DVD player is nothing more than a good CD player with additional benefits.

Can DVD video players play CD-Rs?
The following applies to DVD video players: Generally no, as the shorter wavelength of the DVD laser cannot cope with the special reflective layer of the recordable CD-R. However, there are individual devices that usually work without the manufacturer officially promising it (some Sony types). The Pioneer Laserdisc / DVD / CD combo devices are equipped with two separate laser scanning systems and CD-Rs work perfectly with them. In the case of DVD-ROM players, the first generation could not play CD-R, but this has now become standard.

Can DVD video players play DVD-Audio?
Generally no. However, DVD-A can also contain DVD-V parts. These can be played on a DVD video player. However, this is by no means a matter of course and varies from software manufacturer to software manufacturer. Read the fine print on the DVD case!

Can DVD audio players play DVD-Video too?
There will be pure DVD-A players (e.g. in the car or in the radio recorder) that only play DVD-A, i.e. not even the audio tracks of a DVD-Video. The first DVD-A players are all "combi players" that accept both DVD-V and DVD-A and of course also play CDs.

Can DVD-R recorders also record CD-Rs?
No. You can read almost all CD formats, but only DVD format is written to.

Can DVD video players also play video CDs?
The DVD standard does not actually provide for this, so that no device is obliged to be able to do so. Since the MPEG-2 decoder can also decode MPEG-1 anyway, it is very easy for the designer to achieve "white book" compatibility. For this reason, most DVD video players can also play video CDs without any restrictions.

Can DVD video players also play CD-I?
In principle, DVD players are not equipped for this. But Philips has at least announced that it will bring out a device that can also play CD-I.

A DVD player bought in Europe plays PAL DVDs and delivers a PAL video signal to the television. The device can also play Japanese Code-2 DVDs recorded according to the NTSC standard. What kind of video signal does the player then output?
First of all: All of the following applies only to the connection of DVD player and television via "composite" signal (with a cinch cable from a cinch socket usually marked yellow or via a simply wired SCART cable) or via "Y / C" signal (from an S-Video / S-VHS / Hosiden socket). What DVD players offer from these outputs is usually neither PAL nor NTSC, but something in between called "pseudo-PAL". This differs from the "correct" PAL signal in that its frame rate is 60 Hz (PAL = 50 Hz). As a result, this signal cannot be reproduced with certainty on every European television set. The apparatus must be able to adjust to the unexpected 60 Hz.This is the case with almost all modern televisions, but with older models it is quite possible that the "pseudo-PAL" is not understood and no picture is reproduced. However, a few models deliver a correct NTSC signal when playing Japanese DVDs. This can only be reproduced by a multistandard television, otherwise the picture remains black and white.

What is the ideal combination of DVD player and television?
Definitely the "component" connection. This means that either the three basic colors (red, green, blue) are transmitted via a fully wired SCART cable or the color extracts (YUV) via three cinch cables. This is the most direct connection between DVD and screen and, in addition to the best picture quality, also has the advantage that the television does not even have to be multi-standard compatible in order to be able to play NTSC DVDs.

Europe and Japan jointly have country code 2. Does that mean that all Code 2 players can play DVDs from Europe and also from Japan?

No, because there is a second difference. European DVDs are encoded with 625 lines and 50 Hertz frame rate, Japanese with 525/60. Now it is no problem for the designer to build the player so that it can play both DVDs. However, he is not obliged to do so because this is not required by the DVD standard. In practice, this has meant that there are now such and such on the market. In general, the rule of thumb is that devices sold in Japan usually only accept the 525/60 DVDs sold there, while the devices offered in Europe are mostly combination players that can handle both types of games. So: read the brochure first, then buy! As far as problems with televisions are concerned, almost all modern televisions today accept signals with both 50Hz frame rate and 60 Hz via the video input to see.

Is it legal to dub DVDs onto VHS tapes?

Yes, as long as you use it exclusively for private, non-public and non-commercial use. This is a thorn in the side of almost all DVD manufacturers, which is why DVD players output a macro vision signal at the composite (FBAS) and Y / C outputs. This has the effect that VHS copies are extremely disturbed and thus unusable. For devices that are equipped with a SCART connection, FBAS and Y / C signals are also provided with macro vision. The situation is different with the RGB signal that can be tapped off at some SCART connections. This is always without macro vision, which does not help, because RGB signals cannot be recorded by any VHS video recorder.

There are companies that modify DVD players so that they can play all DVDs with all country codes worldwide. Is such a modification illegal?
No, because this does not violate any copyright regulations. With the purchase of a DVD, you acquire the right to watch it, wherever and on whatever device. Just as it is permitted to bring a DVD player with country code 1 from the USA and play American DVDs on it, it is also permitted to prepare a player purchased here in such a way that it can handle American DVDs. However, such a conversion is associated with some effort and the companies specializing in it point out that such an intervention will void the manufacturer's guarantee. It also happens that DVD players refuse to accept certain US DVDs despite being modified.


DVD and computer

Can DVD-ROM players also play music CDs?
Yes, but whether you can hear that too depends on whether you also have a sound card, amplifier and speakers, or at least headphones.

Can DVD-ROM players also play CD-ROMs?
Yes, without restriction.

Can DVD-ROM players also play DVD-Video?
Yes. So that you can see them, you need an MPEG-2 decoding at the output of which a video and an audio signal are available. This decoding can be carried out by suitable software. However, this is not entirely unproblematic, because it only works with very fast computers and places a heavy load on the CPU. Apart from that, software decoding is usually less convenient, for example there is often no high-quality connection for a television set and there is usually no way to connect a multi-channel audio decoder. The image quality is also not always optimal, for example image juddering often occurs and adapting video cards is not always unproblematic. Accordingly, software decoders are particularly suitable for simple video playback on the computer monitor. As an alternative, there is the inexpensive, practical and reliable decoding by means of an MPEG-2 decoder card, which is supplied with many DVD-ROM drives. You can usually also connect an external television, stereo system or even a Dolby Digital surround sound decoder to it. Important: DVD-ROM players also have country codes. Before buying, it is essential to clarify which country code the player is built for. The country code can usually be changed 5 times, but then it remains fixed.