What Home Cinema Player Should You Buy?

What Home Cinema Player Should You Buy?

Watching a movie at home is a great experience if viewed using the right equipment. The two most important items for home viewing include a home cinema player and an output device. But these two items can be just the start of a complete system that includes speakers and sound processors that produce a surround sound experience. With the highest-quality cinema player and audio system in place, anyone can recreate the excitement of watching these movies at the cinema. Before purchasing a home cinema player, the average buyer needs to decide between the two most common types of media players: the Blu-ray player and the DVD player.. Buyers should also decide whether to purchase the player as part of a kit, or to put together a system of their own by purchasing separate components individually. The last step in the process is to decide where to buy the stuff. A home cinema player can be bought at most department stores, at electronics retailers, at audio and video specialty shops, and at online marketplaces like eBay.

Types of Home Cinema Players

There are several types of home cinema setups. Each setup lets buyers create a home cinema experience unique to their preferences and movie watching needs. First, buyers must choose between the Blu-ray and the DVD player as a home cinema player. Next, they must determine whether they want to purchase their home cinema player as part of a complete kit, or buy the components separately.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of home cinema player setup. The deciding factors for many buyers are 1) price and 2) the age of the technology. Complete systems tend to be less expensive than purchasing separates. Blu-ray is newer than DVD players, but is also more expensive.

Blu-ray vs. DVD

The average home cinema player plays one of two types of optical discs, either Blu-ray or digital video (DVD). The DVD is an older technology that relies on optical discs about 120 mm in diameter, which are encoded with visual and audio information. A laser inside the player reads the information off of these discs, processes it, and displays it on an audio/video audio output device (e.g., a television). The DVD was first developed in 1995 by a cooperative effort of Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic. The most common DVD holds about 4.7 GB of information, and requires a DVD player to process that information.

The Blu-ray disc is the same size as a DVD, but a single layer can hold 25 GB. Blu-ray discs are usually available in dual layer formats, and store 50 GB of information. This allows manufacturers to store videos with much higher resolution and more optical information on each Blu-ray disc. Blu-ray discs must be played in a Blu-ray player, which was first released in Japan by the Blu-ray Association in 2003. Blu-ray players can usually play both Blu-ray discs and DVDs.

Home Cinema Systems vs. Separate Components

The average home cinema player is available as part of a complete system, or can be purchased separately. Those who want to begin watching movies as quickly as possible may prefer the complete system. The complete system includes all components required to process and display video and audio information, except the television.

A separates system consists of components purchased at different times and assembled piecemeal. For instance, a buyer might start with a DVD player and TV, and then later purchase speakers and an AV receiver. It is not as convenient to buy this way, and it often takes more time, but allows buyers to choose each component they want at the time they want it. They need not settle for a surround sound system that does not have all the features they want, simply because it was part of a bundle. The overall cost of a separates system may or may not be greater than that of a bundle, but buying separately lets the buyer spread out the purchase costs over time.

Components of a Home Cinema Player

The home cinema player is often part of a larger system that contains several pieces of equipment. As discussed, buyers can purchase such equipment individually, or they can buy them in a home cinema system bundle. The quality of the system and the number of components varies, but they almost always include one or more of the following components.

Video and Audio Input

The video and audio input device is required to pull the information from the media storage device (i.e. the DVD or Blu-ray disc). As discussed before, the video and audio input devices are usually either a DVD player or a Blu-ray disc player. Some home cinema systems still feature old VHS tape players, and some support a computer equipped with a DVD or Blu-ray disc player.

Audio Processing

High-quality cinema systems also feature a standalone AV receiver, or pre-amplifier and audio processor. These devices receive the audio information from the input device, and send to different speakers to create the surround sound effect people want from a good home cinema system. Audio processors also amplify the sound and give it more power.

Audio Output

The audio output devices used on most home cinema players are speakers. Even the cheapest cinema players use a minimum of two speakers to project sound. Medium to high quality home theatre systems have at least five speakers, each dedicated to a different task. For example, the subwoofer reproduces the lowest frequency, or bass sounds; midrange speakers reproduce mid-range frequencies; and tweeters reproduce the highest range frequencies. Two to three speakers are placed in front of the audience, and two are placed behind the audience. The subwoofer is usually placed parallel to the audience at ear level. Some home theatre systems use seven, eight, or even eleven speakers to do the job.

Video Output

The average home cinema player does not come with a video output device, but it needs one to display video. There are several types to choose from. Blu-ray and DVD players can be hooked up to a television, a rear projector, or even a computer screen. The Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panel is currently the most common type of television.

Output devices support different levels of display quality. The table below lists the different types of video output and provides a brief description of each.

Video Output Type




Standard Definition television; used on early televisions

480 or 576


High Definition television; newer, uses more pixels for increased clarity

720 or 1080


Television with added depth perception; uses stereoscopic and multi-view display

720, 1080, and higher

Resolution is a measure of the image quality and clarity of a video screen. It indicates how many lines of visual information are displayed on the screen. The more lines, the more picture information a television can display. For better picture quality, choose a higher definition screen.

Buying a Home Cinema Player on eBay

Finding home cinema players on eBay is easy. You can begin a search by typing descriptive keywords into the search bar located on the eBay home page. For convenience and ease of use, the search bar appears on every eBay results page, as well. For instance, you can type "Sony DVD player" into the search bar, and browse the many results the search returns until you find something you like. To narrow your results, type more descriptive, specific terms.

Knowing Your Seller

When purchasing electronics on eBay, it is a good idea to know your seller. This allows you to determine whether previous customers were happy with the service or product they received from a particular seller. To find out more about your seller just click on the seller name in any listing. This takes you to a new page showing all of the seller's previous customer feedback in the form of comments and a star rating. Sellers with a lot of positive feedback are a good bet. It is likely they provide quality merchandise and a smooth transaction. Avoid sellers with a lot of negative feedback.


Buyers have two types of modern home cinema player to choose from, Blu-ray and DVD players. Each device offers its own benefits and drawbacks. The Blu-ray disc player is newer technology than the DVD player, but it is more expensive, and it is harder to find Blu-ray discs to play on the device. The average cinema player is usually part of a complete system that includes many components needed to process and play the information received from the player. To save time, buyers can purchase a complete home cinema player system that bundles all these components together. This makes shopping much easier and quicker, but it takes some control away from buyers, who may not get the precise equipment or feature they might prefer. Buyers with specific home theatre needs should consider building a system of separate components. These separate home theatre components usually include the player, speakers, AV receiver (or preamplifier and processor), and a television. However, most systems do not include the television; it must usually be purchased separately.

eBay is a great place to buy a home cinema player and any home theatre components. They offer a wide selection at reasonable and competitive prices.

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