1) Is DVI/HDMI better than component?
DVI signal is before digital to analog conversion which cannot improve the signal.
2) What is an upscaling DVD player?
The DVD player attempts to connect-the-dots to add scan lines that were not present in the recorded images. The result is often visually pleasing, but will not contain additional detail not previously present. This feature is associated with digital (HDMI) video output and is of particular interest when the DVD is better than the display is at scaling to the display's native resolution.
3) What is an upconverting DVD player?
(see upscaling DVD player above)
The DVD player attempts to connect-the-dots to add scan lines that were not present in the recorded images. The result is often visually pleasing, but will not contain additional detail not previously present. This feature is associated with analog (component, VGA, SCART) video output and is of interest for either CRT projectors or for digital displays without HDMI when when the DVD is better than the display is at scaling to the display's native resolution
4) What is this "macroblocking" everybody is talking about?
Macroblocks are always present in compressed video, they are genereally visible as the square blurs that show up in fast action scenes or square splats of junk when there is a signal problem, e.g. fingerprints on the DVD, satellite TV during a blizzard. Why they show up is a long story...
In the beginning the FFT begat the DCT which begat JPEG, which begat MPEG the 1st which begat MPEG the 2nd, which begat MPEG the 4th, which begat Ray, the Blue... And in all of these the DCT was computed within an 8 x 8 box, these being the third power of two, for the powers of 2 are sacred unto the hardware and also the most fertile radix of the FFT and all its descendents for all generations. These 8x8 boxes are the veseels of the spectral powers that compress the frothy ergodic image bits into a solid block, packed and full of bit-entropy. So great is the power of these blocks that they are called the MACRO-BLOCKS. Whenever the foolish attempt to starve their bits or err when serving them, their wroth cannot be concealed and their form shows itself blotting out all things - yea crushing dissenting detail within their bound. Woe be to them who starve them or serve their bits in error, for they shall see only the block.
5) What is deinterlacing?
De-interlacing is the interlacing that converts a stream of pictures to a video signal suitable for broatcast and display on a CRT. The face of the CRT is coated with phosphors that light up when excited and then fade out. If the phosphors don't fade quickly, all motion turns to a blur. If the phosphors do fade quickly, the top of the screen has faded before the bottom has been excited. If the pictures were sent twice as fast, then there would have been only 6 TV channels instead of 12. So... to get from top to bottom twice as fast first only the odd numbered scan lines are sent, and then back to the top and then the even numbered scan lines are sent. The original TV cameras used an image-orthicon tube scanned just like the display tubes. When they send a 24fps movie out on NTSC TV systemsat 30fps it causes a visual stutter called judder if they just repeat 8 of the 24 frames to get the 30. It looks a lot better if the frame changes in between even and odd scan lines since those scan fields go by 60 times a second. On the PAL systems they speed the film up to 25fps which shifts the voices and music off key, but that became fixable when computers became fast enough.
De-interlacing film that was converted to video is just finding the interlaced fields that go with each frame and merging them.
De-interlacing true video has a problem... Objects in motion moved in between the even and odd fields. There can be a noticable haircomb look to vertical edges that were in motion... "combing". If the frame rate is doubled each frame contains one up-to-date field and one stale field. Blending the fields blurs the moving parts of the image. Tracking the motions and synthesizing a frame in the middle of the two fields makes it possible to recover foreground objects in the center of the frame. Objects entering the frame, or being revealed behind objects in motion can't always be fixed up this way. There is no perfect solution to this problem.
6) What is progressive scan?
Progressive scan is a video signal that sends all the scan lines sequentially from top to bottom, as opposed to interlaced. It isn't always the same as a de-interlaced signal, but it is always what a de-interlaced should have been...
7) What is native resolution?
Every current digital video technology assumes that each image is made up of a grid of pixels. Some current assumptions are that the grid is 352, 640, 704, 720, 800, 1024, 1200, or 1920 pixels wide, and 240, 480, 540, 576, 720, or 1080 pixels high. When a device must change the resolution of a signal in order to process it, it converts it to its native resolution, this conversion can never improve the signal, only degrade it.
For example, to fill its screen a digital video display (plasmaa, LCD or DLP) that with a native resolution of 800 x 600 must convert all incoming signals to 800 x 600 in order to display them. This conversion necessarily degrades the signal, the only choice is how to trade off blurring and ringing.
Analog systems have a different but analogous constraint called bandwidth. A CRT projector can potentially be driven to directly display any assumed grid resolution. If the image resolution exceeds the video bandwidth of the projector then details will blur. If the image resolution is too low, the CRT projector may be dim or show scan lines because it is drawing the image with too narrow a line. Practical CRT projectors have a limited selection of scan rates, corresponding to those useful for its bandwidth and spot size.
8) What DVD players output 480i via HDMI?
There is no reason to send interlaced video over HDMI, but if it convinces people to buy one, it will be on the box.
9) What DVD players upscale/upconvert via component outputs?
Its easier to find the feature on HDMI, but no list will ever be complete.
10) What is i.Link?
Sony's proprietary implementation of the IEEE-1394 standard generally known as FireWire. I.Link uses only the four signal pins, discarding the two pins that provide power to the device in favor of a separate power connector on Sony's i.Link products. (Edited from the Wikipedia article)
11) What is DenonLink?
A proprietary digital video interface used by Denon before Firewire was available. There are several incompatible levels and revisions.
12) Will I get a better picture if I buy an upconverting DVD player?
No, but your display device may produce a more pleasing result. If you have an LCD or DLP display, the result should not be more pleasing unless there's something wrong with the internal conversion to native resolution that this can help sidestep. If you have a CRT the result might be more pleasing... or not.
13) What is BTB? (and what is WTW?)
These are abbreviations for acronyms the refer to video signals levels beyond the displayable range that are used for synchronization. BTB stands for Blacker Than Black. WTW stands for Whiter Than White. There is a temptation to believe that 0v is black and 1v is white, but in fact it depends on the video system. Broadcast video is sent with the maximum signal being black because added noise, or snow, is more prominient on a small signal and less visible on white.
14) Do I have to pay $100 or more for a DVI or HDMI cable?
If you want to find a better price, try shopping around, try Froogle, try eBay. I'd say it was hard to spend $100 on one, but a fool and his money are soon parted, so you might as well spend it on the cable since she won't like any better after dinner at an expensive restaurant than she did before.
If you want one for free try dropping a lot of hints and see if anyone gives you one for Christmas.
If that fails and you want to have a $100 cable without the risk of becoming a guest at the county hotel, paying for it would be a good idea.
15) Will expensive component cables make a difference?
They will to your dealer... The simple technical truth is that RCA connector is so bad that nothing else makes much difference between cables less than 4 feet long. Even audio patch cords. At those lengths better coaxial wire with less loss only encourages more ringing between the discontinuities at the connectors which has a much worse effect on the picture than the high frequency loss. For long cable runs a lower loss cable may be helpful, a double sheilded cable will certailnly be more helpful. RCA to type F adapters make it possible to create an excelent cabling solution that is also cost effective. Braided sheilds are more forgiving, so be wary of foil sheilded cable, unsupported bends at the equipment ends will probably become too sharp and the sheild will develop gaps just as it does for repeated flexing.
Don't waste money on "gold plated" connectors. Gold isn't a superior conductor (silver is), its only value is corrosion protection, but it takes a thick coating to close the pores so the base metal oxide mushroom heads don't dominate the surface. The 5 to 30 micro-inch gold wash on consumer connectors provides little or no corrosion protection. It takes 100 to 300 microinches of gold over 60 to 100 microinches of nickel over at least 30 microinches of copper over the base metal to achieve reasonable corrosion protection.
Do replace cables more often... especially if you live in the city. Consumer cabling lacks any gas barriers, the fine wires in the shielding oxidize readily, especially in urban areas where sulfer levels are higher. Coaxial cables don't stand up well to abuse. Cables run across the floor decline rapidly.
Cables with that really nice feel - soft and flexible and smooth like butter - are worthless. From a technical standpoint the most desirable construction is a solid uniform silver tube containing a silver rod supported by stiffened air. The larger the diameter the better. The less a given coaxial cable resembles the ideal the worse it performs. Of course, the ideal one is a bit of a pain to install...
16) Which will sound better, coax or optical output on my DVD player?
Both, or neither if you prefer. There is no reason that either interface should have any bit errors at the bit rates used. That said, the coaxial interface has a greater risk of bit errors from ground loops (think "hum") and the optical link has a greater risk of bit errors from cable and connector damage and failure. In either case persistent subtle differences are unlikely, if there's a problem, you'll hear it.
17) What DVD players output 1080p?
The ones that say they do... they probably say "HDTV" or "HD-DVD" or "Blue-Ray" or "HD-DivX" or whatever the marketing gimmick of the week is. The "upsomething" ones may also produce the signal format. If all else fails try an HTPC.
18) What DVD players allow you to make custom resolutions?
People made their customary New Years resolutions long before there were DVD players. If you want a DVD player that will change the resolution of the signal, then you either want standards conversion PAL <-> NTSC or you want upconversion or line doubling. If you want one that will do a lot of things you've never been able to find, then you probably want an HTPC.
19) Why do I still have black bars on my widescreen tv?
Assuming you haven't been incarcerated, you probably need to let your DVD player or set top box know about your new TV. Somewhere this is a setup screen where you need to tell the signal source that it is sending the signal to a 16:9 display. The factory default for these devices is "4:3 Letterbox", which is what your old TV was.
20) Why does my image seem stretched? Help!
If everyone looks like Stan Laurel, then the signal source, the DVD player or set top box, is set to 16:9 and the display is 4:3. If everyone looks like Oliver Hardy, then the signal source is set to 4:3 and the display is 16:9. Some 16:9 displays are capable of outsmarting the signal source, you may need to check the setup.
21) What is pillarboxing?
When a 4:3 image is shown on a 16:9 display, the height is filled before the width, leaving extra space at the sides. When the opposite occurs displaying a 16:9 image on a 4:3 display its called letterboxing. What the US Postal Service calls a leterbox is known on the opposite side if the Atlantic to the Royal Mail as a pillarbox. That's why letterboxing looks a bit like a letter, and pillarboxing doesn't look much like a pillar. The names were chosen by someone who was feeling 'oh so very very clever' that day.