Sound Advice: Time to replace, not fix, broken DVD player

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 1, 2011 - 5:34 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Q I have an older Toshiba SD-3980 DVD player. It is hooked up to a new Sony LCD HDTV and used to watch Netflix DVDs received through the mail. It suddenly started showing in black and white only, no color at all. Toshiba suggested replacing the connecting cables, but that did not help. The TV also is connected to an HD DVR that views in color, so I assume the TV is OK. Do you have any suggestions before I buy a new player?

A Don't waste another second trying to fix that old DVD player. It's a poor match for your new HDTV, problem or no problem.

Your player doesn't have an HDMI connection or up-conversion capability. Up-conversion will noticeably improve the picture quality from DVDs you receive from Netflix.

Your player also won't help you get the most from your Netflix membership. An inexpensive Blu-ray player will open up new worlds.

All Blu-ray players will up-convert your DVDs to high-def resolution that matches your new HDTV. They also play Blu-ray discs, which provide true high-def content with five times the resolution of a DVD -- sharper picture, deeper color, more natural look. Netflix will send you Blu-rays if you upgrade your subscription for a small monthly charge.

Most Blu-ray players also can stream content from Netflix as well as other sources. Netflix includes unlimited video streaming with your existing disc-rental membership, or you can get a streaming-only subscription for $8 a month.

I use the streaming with my home televisions as well as with my iPad. A cool feature is that Netflix remembers where you left off in the show. I can stop playback on the plasma TV in my bedroom and pick up where I left off on my iPad in an airport later.

Streaming picture quality has a way to go, but the convenience can't be beat.

Blu-ray players are inexpensive. I prefer Panasonic players, but you might want to consider a Sony unit to match your Sony TV, because the remotes will be compatible without programming any codes. If you are on a budget, you can get a refurbished Insignia Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi for $80 at Best Buy's website (www.bestbuy.com).

A mere $80 will improve the picture quality of your DVDs, allow you to view Blu-ray movies with the best high-definition picture available, and open a whole new world of convenience with streaming.

A final note: Don't spend more than $5 on an HDMI cable for your new player. You can buy a high-quality cable for less than $5 at Monoprice (www.monoprice.com) or Amazon (www.amazon.com).

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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