DVD Collecting for Dummies

Anamorphic. Full-screen. Widescreen. Stereo. Mono. Aspect Ratio. Dual Layer. Yes, it all sounds Chinese to me too. I’m a relative newcomer to the wonderful, twisted hobby of DVD collection. Having only been a collector for a couple of years now and having less than 100 DVD’s to my name, I, too, have been and continue to be a bit bewildered by all the terms and technicalities concerning DVD’s.

I do know enough, as a film buff, that next to having a state of the art movie theater in your home, DVD is the best way to watch movies at home, with their high picture and sound quality. I also know enough that some DVD’s are better than others. I also know enough that with proper care and maintainence, your DVD’s can retain their high picture and sound quality for a long, long time and some of them can even become valuable collector’s items.

For those of you out there who are just beginning to embark in the colorful, exciting and utterly geeky world of DVD collecting, all you have to is to remember these eight commandments of collecting DVD’s and you will most likely be successful in the long-run with little headaches and is light on the pockets. This is a clear, concise beginner’s guide from one slightly more experienced beginner:

01. THOU SHALT KNOW THY PLAYER – Knowing what kind of player you have will save you a lot of trouble. Apart from buying the highest quality, most affordable DVD player in the market, you also have to find out if it plays Region 1, Region 2, Region 3, etc. This is especially important if you are going to buy DVD’s outside of your country. In the U.S. and Canada, DVD’s are usually Region 1. In Europe, it’s Region 2. In Southeast Asia, it’s Region 3, etc. A region-free player will relieve you of this hassle but if not, all you have to do is to look at the back of the DVD case. Somewhere in the back, usually below the blurbs, credits and synopsis, there’s a picture of a globe with a number on it. That number indicates the DVD region (1, 2, 3, etc.)

02. THOU SHALT NOT BUY BOOTLEGS – Yes, they’re very cheap. Yes, you get to see theatrical releases from the comfort of your own home instead of sweating it out in a queue. Apart from being utterly illegal, bootleg DVD’s have a shorter shelf-life, they have little to no special features, picture and sound quality are often of lower quality and in the long run, they will be worthless. In my opinion, no self-respecting serious DVD collector would include bootlegs in his collection.

03. THOU SHALT KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR SALES – Real DVD’s can be a tad pricey but you can save some money by being aware of sales which happen quite often. Not only in your local mall or DVD store, but also on-line. You can find several websites that offer sales and deals all the time. Some collector’s sell some of their DVD’s on e-bay for cheap but unless you don’t mind them, they’re often second-hand and used. Also, you can also save money by taking time to compare prices in various stores both on-line and off-line. You’ll find that some stores are cheaper (sometimes A LOT cheaper) than others and sometimes the difference is as much as $10.00

04. THOU SHALT READ REVIEWS BEFORE PURCHASE – Before going out to buy the latest DVD release, make sure you take the time and read the reviews first. Not necessarily of the quality of the film itself but on the quality of the DVD. Make sure you’re getting your money’s worth by checking the reviews because it will tell you what the special features are, how good the picture and sound quality are and pretty much what you’ll expect from the disc. It would be very frustrating to waste $25 bucks of your hard-earned cash to buy a poorly produced DVD.

05. THOU SHALT KNOW THY DVD – Apart from making sure your DVD is not a bootleg and compatible with your player, you should also check if there are more than one editions of your desired DVD available and try to get the one that’s of your preference. Choosing between a two (or three or more) disc special collector’s edition or just a barebones (usually one-disc with little to no special features) DVD is purely up to your choice. But special collector’s edition tend to have better sound and picture quality. Sometimes, full-screen and widescreen editions of the same movie can make a huge difference in viewer satisfaction. The best way is to patrol the internet boards and sites to make sure the DVD you buy is the DVD you truly want.

06. THOU SHALT WORSHIP BOX SETS AND SPECIAL EDITIONS – When the first “Lord of the Rings” movie came out on DVD, I did not buy it despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of the film. Why? Because I know that when all three movies come out, the manufacturer will eventually release a box set where I can buy all three of the films and all their special features in one purchase. Buying DVD’s that are available in box-sets will save you a bit of money than buying each one of them individually. So unless you really, really hate the Ewoks, it is strongly recommended that you buy the “Star Wars” box set rather than purchase them individually. This will save you as much as $10. Plus oftentimes you get a bonus disc which you cannot purchase separately. Choosing between a cheaper barebones and a special edition is purely your choice but special editions often increase in price in the long run especially if they go out of print. This is especially true of Criterion Collection DVD’s. Criterion specializes in foreign, independent, classic and oftentimes rare films. They are a bit more expensive than most other DVD’s but a special Criterion DVD can fetch as much as $500.00 should they go out of print. It’s a worthy investment.

07. THOU SHALT TAKE CARE OF THY DVD – DVD’s have a pretty long shelf-life and are likely to retain their picture and sound quality for a long, long time but they don’t do this all by themselves. Proper care must be taken for your DVD’s. Simply store in a cool, dry place where the temperature is more or less the same. Never expose them to extreme change in temperatures, they may crack and be rendered as useful as coasters. As much as possible, try to avoid touching the discs themselves and transport them from player to case and vice versa using your pointer finger in the middle hole and your thumb on the side. Also, put your DVD’s back in their respective cases immediately after use. If you have small children, assist them in handling DVD’s.

08. THOU SHALT LOOK IN THE NET FOR FURTHER INFORMATION – Believe it or not, there’s more. The best place to know all about DVD collecting is, of course, the internet where a lot of DVD collectors of all ages, sexes, race, creed, etc. all congregate. The latest DVD news, the latest DVD sales and even chats and message board threads with lots of valuable information is almost exclusively found on-line. One great very detailed resource for DVD questions can be found here: http://www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html

I’m still learning the in’s and out’s of DVD collecting. I find if I just stick to these eight commandments, it can be a very hassle free, very enjoyable hobby.

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