Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why I want an HD based DVD/Xvid player

Why I need an HD based DVD player
The reason is quite simple. I have two kids. The older is 3.5 years old and the younger is 2.5 years old. The both watch a fair amount of kids' DVD and like other kids their age, they love seeing the same movies over and over again. Like other kids their age, they've become experts at operating the DVD player and scratching the DVD discs quite hard.

There's no use, DVDs are much better than the old VHS videocasettes (I can't even watch VHS content anymore), but for sure, they're less kids-proof. What's can I say? They're less durable. When you rent a DVD that's not new it's more likely it will pause and skip and stutter than an old VHS tape. The tape deteriorates over time, and the initial quality is lower, but a DVD can become unusable much faster.

Why I need an HD based DVD player? So I can rip those kids DVDs and have them on a hard drive for repeated playback. I would then store the kids' DVDs up with my grown-up DVD collection. If you carefully protect your DVDs like I do, I hope we'll be able to watch them for many more years.

Why I need an HD based Xvid player
I'm downloading videos over the internet, usually using Azureus. I'd like to watch those videos on my 32" TV in the living room, not in the spare room where my computer is. These days, whenever I download something, I burn it on a CD-RW and take it to my DVD/Divx player that's connected to my TV. This wastes a lot of time. I still don't understand why it takes over 10 seconds for a DVD player to recognize a media once it's inserted, but that nothing compared to the few minutes it takes to erase the CD-RW and then rewrite it with the video I downloaded. In addition, CD-RW discs are generally not very reliable. Every once in a while the burn fails, or succeeds, but the player doesn't read the disc or freezes in the middle etc. I need something more reliable like an HD, where I'm sure the information is stored properly.

What I want from an HD based DVD/Xvid Player
I want to be able to play videos without being afraid that my media will be scratched (by my kids, not the player) or that I'll need to burn CD-RWs all the time. Wait, that's not enough. I'm picky and I have more demands:

  • I won't settle for image quality that's less than what I get from a DVD player. I have a Compaq/HP nw8000 laptop with TV out (S-Video), but the video out quality is not on par with DVD players. The image is washed out and I can't get overscan to work properly.
  • I won't settle for poor video decoding performance which introduces frame skips and other visual distractions.
  • I won't settle for something that outputs only NTSC or PAL. I have a multisystem TV, and I want to see PAL movies in PAL and NTSC movies in NTSC. A conversion is doable, but changing frame rates introduces some jitter to the video that really annoys the eye.
  • I'd be happy to be able to attach thumbnails to files, so that it's easier for my wife and kids to find the videos they want to play.
That's basically it. I don't think that's too much to ask...