DVD + HDMI
What We Think
What's more, each of the three players tested here employs special processing that "upscales" regular 480i DVD video to an HDTV signal format (720p or 1080i) and uses the HDMI connector to send it to your HDTV. The goal, of course, is to get the best possible picture quality - an image that, while not as detailed as true HDTV, is as smooth and clear as DVD can be. So does upscaling plus HDMI equal a better picture? At least with these players, it largely depends on how well your HDTV converts analog component video to digital. If your set does this well and has good upscaling, you probably won't see much difference between a player's component and HDMI outputs. That was my experience with the high-end DLP front projector I used. On TVs with less than perfect processing, though, you might see a cleaner image using HDMI, just as our TV reviewers sometimes report.
It turns out, though, that the determining factor in picture quality was how these players handled the initial conversion from 480i to progressive-scan 480p, which occurs before upscaling to an HDTV format and affects images carried by both the component-video and HDMI outputs. As you'll see, some players definitely do this better than others.
Full lab results on these DVD players.