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
- 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.
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