by Staff Writer
New features and capabilities are coming to your home theater all the time. DVD players have changed a lot since they first appeared. Below, you'll learn about several of the terms and features which you may find on DVD players and how they can enhance your entertainment experience.
Digital versatile disc (DVD): DVD players are usually only designed to play DVDs. A DVD can store enough data for a two- or three-hour movie, plus a few extra minutes of special features such as director commentary, deleted scenes and extra language options. DVDs are available in different formats, including recordable DVDs, like DVD-R and DVD-RW. These formats aren't all equally supported by every DVD player.
Aspect-ratio: The ratio of an image's width to height is its aspect ratio. Standard video format used to have a 4:3 aspect ratio, which fit most TVs. HDTV introduced a widescreen format, and 16:9 aspect ratio is now the most common. Many DVD players can display both of these aspect ratios, possibly even giving you a choice between the two if the DVD playing has both.
Chapter preview: Movies on DVD are divided into chapters. A DVD player with chapter preview features will allow you to view a few seconds of a scene from the DVD menu before you jump to the scene itself.
Decoder: DVDs may carry one or more soundtracks, designed for stereo and surround sound systems. The DVD player will have several audio decoders programmed into it, so it can read these audio formats. The more formats a DVD player decoder can read, the more sound options you will have when watching movies.
DVD region coding: A DVD player is usually programmed with a geographical DVD region code, which allows it to play DVDs only for the region in which it was purchased. If you buy DVDs from a country that has a different region code, you may not be able to play them on your DVD player.
JPEG photo viewer: Some DVD players can read and display photos from a disc. A DVD player's product description will list the different image formats, such as JPEG or GIF, which it can display.
CD and MP3 playback: Many DVD players can also read music data from CDs. If your DVD player features CD and MP3 playback, you may be able to insert regular CDs and MP3 CDs and listen to them through your TV or home theater system.