In the recent past, DVD player manufacturers added a feature to their players that allowed users to connect their USB flash drives as an additional source for movies and music. While this popular trend changed the way people used media players, it has now grown to a different level altogether. It’s hard not to picture solid state media taking over optical discs, like it happened in the case of MP3 players.
Apart from being compact and portable, thanks to the absence of optical drives, these magic boxes are more capable than standard DVD players.

While the latter restrict the users to a 720p resolution, high-end solid state players surpass DVD-quality to offer Blu-ray video quality. This is one of the main benefits and there are more features that trounce the traditional DVD player. These all-in-one devices offer a single platform where one can store and access all the digital content. Their ease of use and support for a wide variety of file formats across file types makes these players truly irresistible. In addition to standard formats such as DivX, MP3 and JPEG, they support MKV, MOV, VOB, MP4, RMVB, WMA, FLAC, AAC, GIF, TIFF, PNG and so on. Also, in terms of storage, you neither have to hoard optical media nor worry about preventing them from being damaged. Since there are no lenses or moving parts involved, there’s very little to worry about the players too.

The two broad categories include the ones that offer internal storage and the ones that need an external source for content via a USB port. In this roundup, we’ve covered the latter. While a USB port is the primary source of connectivity across all players, some high-end ones even feature eSATA ports. Some have multiple USB ports to accommodate additional sources, like a second hard drive. If that doesn’t suffice, one can opt for a player that features network support to access files over a network. These players do not necessarily need flash-based storage. Anything detected as a mass storage device can be used, which includes standard external hard drives too. You can even insert the memory card of your digital camera to watch slide shows of your photographs.

With the increasing range of players, there’s something suited to each category of users. Someone who has a smaller LCD TV with a 1080i or 720p resolution can choose an entry-level player. One who has a large HDTV can choose a high-end player with a multitude of features to leverage on. In any case it’s best to take your TV into consideration and also note some vital features before making your purchase.

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