A DVD player is a device that plays discs produced under both the DVD-Video and DVD-Audio technical standards, two different and incompatible standards. Some DVD players will also play audio CDs. DVD players are connected to a television to watch the DVD content, which could be a movie, a recorded TV show, or other content.
The first DVD player was created by Tatung Company in Taiwan in collaboration with Pacific Digital Company from the United States in 1994. Some manufacturers originally announced that DVD players would be available as early as the middle of 1996. These predictions were too optimistic. Delivery was initially held up for "political" reasons of copy protection demanded by movie studios, but was later delayed by lack of movie titles. The first players appeared in Japan in November, 1996, followed by U.S. players in March, 1997, with distribution limited to only 7 major cities for the first 6 months.
Players slowly trickled into other regions around the world. Prices for the first players in 1997 were $1000 and up. By the end of 2000, players were available for under $100 at discount retailers. In 2003 players became available for under $50. Six years after the initial launch, close to one thousand models of DVD players were available from over a hundred consumer electronics manufacturers.
Due to multiple audio (and video) output devices, there are many outputs on a DVD player, such as an RCA jack, component outputs, and an HDMI output. Consumers may become confused with how to connect a player to a TV or amplifier. Most systems include an optional digital audio connector for this task, which is then paired with a similar input on the amplifier. The physical connection is typically RCA connectors or TOSLINK, which transmits a S/PDIFstream carrying either uncompressed digital audio (PCM) or the original compressed audio data (Dolby Digital, DTS, MPEG audio) to be decoded by the audio equipment.
Video is another issue which continues to present most problems. Current players typically output analog video only, both composite video on an RCA jack as well as S-Video in the standard connector. However, neither of these connectors was intended to be used for progressive video, so yet another set of connectors has started to appear, to carry a form of component video, which keeps the three components of the video, one luminance signal and two color difference signal, as stored on the DVD itself, on fully separate wires (whereas S-Video uses two wires, uniting and degrading the two color signals, and composite uses only one, uniting and degrading all three signals). The connectors are further confused by using a number of different physical connectors on different player models, RCA or BNC, as well as using VGA cables in a non-standard way (VGA is normally analog RGB—a different, incompatible form of component video). Even worse, there are often two sets of component outputs, one carrying interlaced video, and the other progressive, or an interlaced/progressive switch (either a physical switch or a menu setting).
In Europe (but not most other PAL areas), SCART connectors are typically used, which can carry composite and analog RGB interlaced video signals (RGB can be progressive, but not all DVD players and displays support this mode) or Y/C (S-Video), as well as analog two-channel sound and automatic 4:3 or 16:9 (widescreen) switching on a single convenient multi-wire cable. The analog RGB component signal offers video quality which is superior to S-Video and identical to YPbPr component video. However, analog RGB and S-Video signals can not be carried simultaneously, due to each using the same pins for different uses, and displays often must be manually configured as to the input signal, since no switching mode exists for S-Video. (A switching mode does exist to indicate whether composite or RGB is being used.) Some DVD players and set-top boxes offer YPbPr component video signals over the wires in the SCART connector intended for RGB, though this violates the official specification and manual configuration is again necessary. (Hypothetically, unlike RGB component, YPbPr component signals and S-Video Y/C signals could both be sent over the wire simultaneously, since they share the luminance (Y) component.)
Some DVD players include a USB video recorder. As well as such, there are also have DVD players with a USB port to be able to play digital media types as well as MP4, MP3, etc.
Wireless connections (bluetooth and/or wifi) are useful to manage (play/record) wirelessly content from or to other devices (i.e. cell phones).