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Excellent picture quality is a hallmark of virtually all DVD players. Any of the tested models would be fine for playing commercial DVD movies and audio CDs on a conventional TV. For typical use, then, you can safely buy a player by price and any special features that you want.
If you own a digital TV, you'll need to be a bit more selective. Used with a high-definition or enhanced-definition TV, the progressive-scan technology found on almost all new players (including all those in the Ratings except the Apex, 19), will yield smoother images from most DVD movies. But a few models, including the Sony (4) and Samsung (14) we tested, don't confer that image improvement. And a few, called out in the Quick Picks, also smooth the images from DVDs that originate from digital video cameras (such as those from the DVDs of recent TV programs.)