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  disc handling
  playable discs
  front panel
  rear panel
  remote control
  play a disc
  locate data
  setup menu

DVD Player Primer


  What is inside a DVD player?

The basic internals of a DVD player consist of a physical drive to rotate the disc, a laser to read the data on the disc, circuits, usually on circuit boards, to control the total operations, display status, and control timing and also connections, both internal and for external (video, audio) devices such as a television.

  What is the best way to handle discs?

Try not to touch the playback (data) side of the disc. Fingerprints and dirt can cause video and audio problems. Keep the disc clean. Do not use any type of solvent to clean the disc. Use a moistened soft cloth to wipe clean and a dry cloth to wipe off excess moisture. Always wipe from the center towards the outer edge. Keep discs away from heat, direct sunlight, and dust. Store in protective cases away from possible damage from breakage. Keep in a cool, dry place.

  What discs can I play?

Most DVD players today can play not only DVD movies, but also music CDs and picture CDs. The following chart summarizes playable discs.

  Disc mark Contains Disc Size Playing Time
DVD Video audio and video 12 cm up to 8 hours
Audio CD audio 8 or 12 cm up to 80 min.
MP3 CD audio 12 cm 600+ min.
Picture CD video 12 cm user select


  What should I expect to see on the front and rear panels?

There should be a power on/off switch for main power with an indicator light on the front panel. The remote sensor and also the disc type indicator lights should be visible. There should be STOP/PLAY and OPEN/CLOSE (door/tray) buttons and of course also in front is the door for inserting the disc. On the rear panel, there should be the audio and video connections. Most players have composite video and analog audio RCA type connectors for signal delivery to an analog television. Older TVs without composite connections need a RF modulator box to convert the signal to an antenna type connection. Most DVD players today also have an S-Video connection which yields better video than composite video and requires a television with an S-Video connection. The best video connection today (other than digital) is component video. Many, if not most, DVD players today have the three component video connections for output to a television with component video. For the audio (sound) portion of the signal from the DVD player, there can be up to three types of connections on the rear panel. First there is the RCA type left and right analog stereo connections which are usually white and red color coded. For a TV with only MONO sound, connect only the white cable. Second, for digital stereo sound, you need to see a orange color coded RCA type connection and finally for digital surround sound (may or may not be available on the disc), you should see a OPTICAL output on the rear panel. This connection appears small and is usually black.


  What is on the remote control?

You should be able to control the PLAY function and also STOP. There should be a FAST FORWARD and REVERSE. There should be a MENU and/or SETUP function for user selectable options. There should be a number pad for TRACK selection. You should have a volume control and a remote door OPEN/CLOSE function. Additionally there may be functions for ZOOM, slow motion, MUTE, camera angle, subtitles, shuffle play and more.


  How do I connect the DVD player?

At the most basic level, you need a video connection and a audio connection from the DVD player to a television. The video connection can consist of a single cable from the yellow RCA type connection on the rear of the DVD player to the yellow RCA type connection on the TV. This cable connection allows the video portion from the disc to get to the TV for display. The audio connection can consist of a single cable (for MONO sound) from the white RCA type connection on the rear of the DVD player to the white RCA type connection on the TV. For stereo TVs you will also connect the red colored RCA type connector from the DVD player rear panel to the television. That's it!

 Instead of the yellow video connection, you can use an S-video cable connection (black) or you can use instead a 3 cable component video connection (red, blue, green). Component video separates out the brightness and color signals so they can be processed independently, yielding a better picture than composite or s-video. The audio portion from the DVD may consist of stereo (2 channel) or digital multi-channel sound. Dolby digital or DTS multi-channel sound has to be decoded as it is read from the disc. Therefore you may have to use a DVD player with a decoder and/or use a separate amplifier/decoder such as a home theater receiver in order to benefit from the available audio source. The connection would be from the audio (digital) output on the rear panel of the DVD player to a audio receiver input so that the receiver can send the multi-channel audio to the proper speakers (also connected to the receiver). Currently there could be as many as 5 or 6 channel sound available on the DVD. You may have to select thru your MENU or SETUP option on the DVD player, the proper audio setting so the surround sound is produced.


  How do I play a disc?

You must select on your TV, the video connection which your DVD player is connected to by (usually) pressing a button on your TV remote such as VIDEO or LINE1 or LINE2 depending on your television set. Some sets will automatically select the source that is connected. Once the proper source is selected and the disc is inserted into the player, press PLAY/ENTER on the DVD remote. In the case of a audio CD, you can select a certain track by using the number keys. For slow motion playback press SLOW. To resume normal speed, press PLAY. A ZOOM button will allow you to see the movie in widescreen format or a full screen format. If your TV is a 4:3 aspect ratio TV, you may prefer to see the movie in full screen mode. This will eliminate the black bars but will also eliminate part of the scene.

How do I locate specific chapters or tracks on the disc?

Using the remote control, you can go to specific points on the disc. For a DVD, push TITLES or MENU depending on your particular player. Then select the title or scene selection of interest. Usually the MENU option will offer other choices such as LANGUAGE selection or special features. You may have a RESUME button on the remote to start playing at the selected point. Other ways to select scenes may include a GOTO button and SKIP button to play from a selected point on the disc.

How do I display subtitles?

If the disc you are playing has subtitles available, use the on-screen menu to select the language you prefer. Remember not to confuse subtitles with the on-screen display language or the audio track language. The audio track language selection is the dialog your hear while playing the movie, while the subtitle is what you see in text at the bottom of the screen. These are two different language selections while the OSD language is also separate.


How do I display JPEG images?

If your DVD player has JPEG capability, you can insert a disc with images such as a Kodak picture CD and see a slideshow of pictures on your TV. Pictures can be rotated and zoomed in and out. Thumbnail images may also be available for quick selection.


How do I select the proper audio settings?

The DVD disc audio recorded tracks (source) determine what is available for sound. Some movies may only offer stereo analog sound while the newer discs offer multi-channel digital surround sound. You may need to setup thru your on-screen menu, the proper audio setting for individual discs. The sound settings for CDs and MP3 audio will be digital and also digital if the movie has Dolby Digital sound. Read more about
DVD sound.


How do I use the setup menu?

User selectable options on the on-screen menu may include languages, connections, audio settings, ratings, passwords and more depending on your particular DVD player. Using the remote control, press SETUP or MENU and then using the arrow keys, select up, down, right, left and ENTER to choose your settings. Usually pressing MENU again or EXIT or RESUME locks in your changes.


What do I do if I have trouble?

Typical problems include picture and sound, power, settings, damage and operator error. Most trouble is due to the following:

Improper connections from DVD player to display device or improper setup. This may involve wrong cable connections. A damaged or scratched disc can cause distortion. An improper placed disc (upside down or misaligned in the tray) can cause no picture and play problems. Settings such as parental lock or passwords can prevent playback. Software incompatibilities can cause playback problems. Replace the batteries in the remote if control does not work. Call manufacturer customer service for player repair or return to service dept. if you purchased a service contract at the retailer. See this troubleshooting guide for more answers.