TV-DVD player combos are simpler to set up and use than separate components. However, some TV-DVD player combos are more versatile than others, and buying a separate TV and DVD player has some advantages of its own. Here are some things to consider:

  • The more HDMI inputs, the better. This connection keeps the signal all-digital, avoiding degradation that can occur when a digital signal is converted to analog for output to a TV. HDMI carries high-definition audio as well as video. Some satellite receivers and digital cable boxes can connect through this port as well.
  • Look for a PC input if you plan to use the TV-DVD combo as a computer monitor. TV-DVD combos are popular for dorm rooms and teenagers' bedrooms, and that's especially true for models that can double as PC monitors. Many TV-DVD combos, especially smaller ones, have the same native resolution as similarly sized widescreen computer monitors.
  • Format support is limited. The DVD or Blu-ray Disc players in TV-DVD combos are often not as full featured as better standalone decks. Disc and file format support is often not very broad. Some players won't playback DVD+R/RW discs, for instance (see our report on DVD players for more on DVD disc formats). In addition, while the disc players in TV-DVD combos will play back legally recorded copies of CDs and DVDs that you burn on your computer, most have limited to no support for other computer file formats.
  • Shop around for the best price. In our research, we found big price differences from retailer to retailer, so it pays to look around.
  • Check the manufacturer's policy before buying online. Some manufacturers have strict policies regarding authorized dealers. For example, if you buy a Sharp TV-DVD combo from an unauthorized dealer, you'll probably void the manufacturer's warranty. However, the retailer may offer a substitute warranty. Be sure to calculate your threshold for risk on such a large purchase and to ask the dealer about warranty coverage.
  • Consider buying separate components. While TV-DVD combos have space-saving advantages, they also have some significant disadvantages. One is that if the DVD player breaks, it can't just be replaced.
  • HDTV-Blu-ray player combos are now available. These let you play high-def Blu-ray Discs as well as older standard-definition DVDs. However, they are more expensive than TV-DVD combos, and the full benefit of increased resolution might not be obvious on smaller (less than 40 inches) screen sizes.
  • LED backlights are starting to appear. While LCD TVs with LED backlights (sometimes called LED TVs) are becoming commonplace in standalone LCD TVs, they are only now starting to appear in TV-DVD combos. Up to now, most LCD TVs have used CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlights. LED backlights are more energy efficient and allow for a thinner case. Their chief downside is a tendency toward uneven illumination, especially those that use the less expensive edge-lit design.

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