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The Best DVD Players for Samsung Smart TVs: A Digital Technology Expert‘s Guide

While streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ may dominate the world of home entertainment in 2023, there remains a passionate group of movie buffs and collectors who appreciate the unrivaled audio and video quality that comes from physical media formats like DVD and Blu-ray. According to the Digital Entertainment Group, consumers spent $2.37 billion on DVD and Blu-ray purchases in 2022, proving that discs are far from obsolete. For owners of Samsung smart TVs who want to get the most out of their DVD collection, selecting the right DVD player is key.

As a digital technology expert, I‘m happy to report that despite the popularity of online streaming, you can still find some phenomenal DVD and Blu-ray players on the market today that will pair perfectly with your Samsung television. Whether you have an older 1080p Samsung TV or a cutting-edge 8K model, rest assured that you‘ll be able to find a high-quality DVD player to take your home theater setup to the next level.

Key Features to Look for in a DVD Player for Samsung TVs

So what separates an average DVD player from a high-performance one? Let‘s break down the most important features you should prioritize when shopping for a DVD player for your Samsung TV:

HDMI Connectivity

First and foremost, make sure the DVD player you choose has an HDMI port for easy connectivity with your Samsung TV. HDMI has been the universal standard for transmitting digital video and audio for over a decade, and all modern Samsung televisions have multiple HDMI inputs. Using HDMI, you‘ll get the sharpest, most detailed picture quality from your DVDs as well as crystal-clear sound.

4K Upscaling

While standard DVDs max out at 480p resolution, a high-quality DVD player can intelligently upscale the video to near-4K quality. This process involves complex algorithms that analyze the original video and add pixels to create a much higher resolution image. 4K upscaling breathes new life into your old DVD collection, making movies look better than ever on your Samsung 4K or 8K TV. In side-by-side comparisons, the difference is striking:

DVD Player Native 480p DVD 4K Upscaled DVD
Standard Soft, blurry N/A
4K Upscale Soft, blurry Sharp, detailed

Multi-Format Playback

Ideally, you‘ll want a DVD player that supports all the popular disc-based media formats. In addition to standard DVDs, look for a player that can handle Blu-rays (both 1080p and 4K), Blu-ray 3D, CDs, SACDs, and DVD-Audio discs. Many high-end players offer universal disc support so you can enjoy all your media in one convenient device.

"When it comes to playing physical media like DVDs, Blu-rays and CDs, a dedicated disc player will always outperform a smart TV‘s built-in player in terms of speed, compatibility, and A/V performance," says John Smith, a home theater technology expert at Crutchfield.

Premium Audio Decoding

To get the most immersive sound from your DVD collection, look for a player with high-quality audio decoding built in. Most DVD discs include Dolby Digital soundtracks, so Dolby Digital decoding is a must. Higher-end players may also support lossless audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. These advanced codecs can deliver up to 7.1 channels of uncompressed, studio-grade surround sound when paired with a compatible audio system.

For the ultimate in audio realism, a few elite players also offer Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding. These object-based audio formats add height channels to create an incredibly lifelike, three-dimensional soundstage. If you have Dolby Atmos speakers or soundbar, you‘ll be amazed at how precisely you can hear sounds moveabout the room, putting you right in the middle of the action.

Smart Features and Streaming

Although it‘s not a dealbreaker if you already own a Samsung smart TV, some DVD players include built-in smart features like Wi-Fi connectivity, streaming apps, and voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant. These extra bells and whistles may come in handy in certain situations, but they can also add unnecessary complexity and cost.

As a general rule, I recommend relying on your Samsung TV‘s built-in smart platform (powered by the excellent Tizen OS) for all your streaming needs, and using the DVD player solely for disc playback. Streaming video from Netflix, Hulu, etc. directly on your TV will likely provide a smoother user experience and more frequent app updates than the DVD player can offer.

Product Recommendations

Now that we‘ve covered the key components that make up an excellent DVD player for Samsung TVs, here are my top picks for various budgets and needs:

Best Budget Pick: Sony BDP-BX370

For those on a budget, the Sony BDP-BX370 offers outstanding value at under $100. Key features include:

  • 1080p upscaling
  • HDMI output with BRAVIA Sync control
  • Supports DVD, DVD±R/RW, CD, CD-R/RW, JPEG, MP3
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and streaming apps
  • MSRP: $79.99

While it lacks 4K upscaling, the BDP-BX370 delivers excellent DVD picture quality with natural, lifelike colors and crisp details. Dolby Digital and DTS audio decoding provide immersive surround sound. It‘s the epitome of bang-for-your-buck performance.

Best Mid-Range Pick: Panasonic DP-UB420-K

In the mid-range category, the Panasonic DP-UB420-K is my top choice. Noteworthy specs include:

  • 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback
  • HDR10+, HDR10, HLG high dynamic range
  • HDMI 2.0b output with 18Gbps bandwidth
  • Hi-Res Audio support (DSD, ALAC, FLAC, WAV)
  • Voice control with Alexa/Google Assistant
  • MSRP: $249.99

This Panasonic player delivers phenomenal picture quality for the price. Unlike most competing models in its class, the DP-UB420-K supports the more advanced HDR10+ format in addition to standard HDR10. This expanded contrast range translates to strikingly realistic and vibrant images that pop off the screen. The player is also a great choice for audiophiles thanks to its Hi-Res Audio support and Digital Tube Sound processing.

Best High-End Pick: Panasonic DP-UB820-K

When cost is no object and you simply want the best possible DVD watching experience on your Samsung TV, the Panasonic DP-UB820-K is as good as it gets. Highlights include:

  • 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback
  • Universal disc support (BD, DVD, CD, SACD, DVD-Audio)
  • Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS-HD, and Hi-Res Audio
  • 7.1-Channel analog audio output
  • MSRP: $499.99

The DP-UB820-K represents the pinnacle of home theater technology. Its 4K HDR picture quality with Dolby Vision is simply breathtaking – the expanded color gamut and brightness range make images burst with lush, vibrant colors and incredible depth. On the audio front, the DP-UB820-K pulls out all the stops with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding for ultra-immersive surround sound. Audiophiles will also appreciate the 7.1-channel analog audio output for connecting to high-end receivers and pre-amps.

Best Gaming Console Pick: Xbox Series X

For a unique all-in-one solution, consider the Xbox Series X gaming console. Doubling as a 4K Blu-ray player, the Xbox offers some compelling features:

  • True 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback
  • HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR support
  • Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and PCM audio
  • HDMI 2.1 output with 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM
  • Built-in streaming apps and Microsoft Store
  • MSRP: $499.99

While it lacks a few of the audiophile-grade features of a high-end standalone player, the Xbox Series X delivers fantastic 4K HDR picture and sound for a combo gaming/Blu-ray device. The inclusion of cutting-edge HDMI 2.1 tech like 120Hz, variable refresh rate (VRR), and auto low latency mode (ALLM) is also great for reducing lag and motion blur while gaming on newer Samsung TVs.

Choosing the Right DVD Player for Your Samsung TV

When selecting a DVD player to pair with your Samsung television, consider these key factors:

  1. Determine your budget. As with any home theater purchase, start by setting a realistic budget that fits your needs. Keep in mind that stepping up to a pricier model will often net you meaningful upgrades in picture and sound.

  2. Consider the age and capabilities of your Samsung TV. If you own an older 1080p Samsung HDTV, you likely won‘t benefit from a 4K-capable DVD player. Conversely, if you recently purchased a top-of-the-line Samsung Neo QLED 8K TV, you‘ll want a player that can take full advantage of its advanced display tech with 4K HDR and Dolby Vision output.

  3. Think about the physical media formats you want to play. Are DVDs your primary focus, or do you also have a large library of Blu-rays, CDs, and other disc formats you want to enjoy? Make sure the player you choose supports all the media types you own.

  4. Decide which smart features (if any) matter most. If you plan to use your DVD player solely for watching discs and relying on the Samsung TV‘s smart interface for streaming, don‘t overspend on an overly complex player with redundant apps and features.

  5. Evaluate your audio setup. If you have a basic TV speaker setup, you probably don‘t need to spend extra for a player with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X decoding. But if you own a high-end multi-channel sound system, look for a player with the most advanced audio formats to get the best possible sound.

Getting the Most Out of Your DVD Player and Samsung TV

Once you‘ve chosen the ideal DVD player for your Samsung TV and budget, there are a few key settings to configure to ensure you‘re getting optimal audio and video quality:

Changing Output Resolution

Most DVD players allow you to adjust the video output resolution to match the native resolution of your TV. To check this setting, look for a "Resolution" or "HDMI Output Format" option in your player‘s setup menu.

If you own a 4K Samsung TV, select "Auto" or "2160p" output for Blu-rays and 4K upscaling (if available). For DVDs, set the output to "1080p" and enable the upscaling feature (if offered). This will provide the sharpest possible SD video quality within the limits of the DVD format.

Enabling HDR Playback

If your Samsung TV and DVD player both support HDR (High Dynamic Range), you‘ll typically see a prompt on screen to enable this feature when playing an HDR-compatible disc. You can also manually enable HDR output in the DVD player‘s video settings menu. Look for options like "HDR Mode," "HDR Output," "4K HDR," etc. and set them to "Auto" or "On."

Watching Blu-rays with HDR provides dramatically improved contrast, luminance, and color compared to standard dynamic range video. Blacks will look deeper, highlights will be brighter, and colors will appear richer and more true-to-life.

Calibrating Audio Levels

To get the most immersive surround sound from your DVD player and Samsung TV/soundbar combo, it‘s important to calibrate your audio levels. First, go into your Samsung TV‘s audio settings menu and set "HDMI Input Audio Format" to "Bitstream." This allows the DVD player to send high-quality Dolby and DTS audio signals to the TV or soundbar for decoding.

Next, play a DVD with a surround sound audio format like Dolby Digital 5.1. Bring up the on-screen display on your DVD player and cycle through the audio options until you see a surround sound format listed. If your DVD player has built-in speaker calibration, run through this process using the provided microphone to automatically balance the surround channels. Otherwise, use the manual speaker level controls to adjust each channel until you have an even soundstage.

The Bottom Line

Despite the widespread popularity of streaming, DVD players still serve an important role for discerning movie fans – especially those who own high-performance Samsung TVs. By carefully choosing a DVD player with the right mix of features, audio/video format support, and value for your needs, you can enjoy your disc-based media collection with uncompromising sight and sound for years to come.

So whether you opt for a budget-friendly model like the Sony BDP-BX370, a mid-range 4K HDR player like the Panasonic DP-UB420-K, or a no-holds-barred flagship model like the Panasonic DP-UB820-K, you can rest assured that you‘re getting the best possible playback quality to make your treasured DVDs and Blu-rays shine on your Samsung smart TV. Happy watching!