The main purpose of a DVD player is, of course, to play DVD videos in your home theater. Any DVD player will do that. There are added features which will allow more options (generally at extra cost).
Built in Surround Decoder:
Some DVD players have surround decoders built in. This allows you to use them for full 5.1 channels even if your home theater receiver doesn't have a decoder (although it would have to be '5.1 channel ready). If the player has this option, it will have 6 RCA connectors on it's rear panel which will be connected to the 5.1 channel inputs on the receiver's rear panel.
Optical Digital Output:
If the player has an optical digital output, it uses a fiber optic cable to transfer the surround sound's digital bitstream from the player to a component (such as a home theater receiver) which contains a Dolby Digital or DTS decoder.
Coaxial digital Outputs:
This type of output uses a coaxial cable with RCA type connectors (different types of connectors than cablevision coaxial) to transfer the surround sound's digital bitstream from the DVD player to a component (such as a home theater receiver) which contains a Dolby Digital or DTS decoder.
Component Video Outputs:
This output uses 3 separate output cables for the video signal. See the 'Receiver' page for more info.
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