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In order to take advantage of 1080p upscaling output from a DVD player, the HDTV must have both 1080p native display capability and be able to accept a 1080p signal from an external source.
In determining whether your 1080p compatible television achieves the 1080p result via internal scaling only, or can also accept 1080p signals from an external source, such as a DVD player with 1080p output, consult your user manual, which should explain what type your TV is. If you are still not sure, you can confirm this with tech support for your specific brand/model of 1080p compatible television.
Of course, another way to confirm this is to connect a DVD player with 1080p output capability to your Television via an HDMI, DVI, or Component (whichever output is designated for 1080p). Set the output of the DVD player to 1080p and see if you get an image on the screen.
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