The budget DVD market is going from strength to strength, there are so many brands available. The big players are missing their slice of the action and have finally got entry level machines in the sub $200 bracket. These may be entry level in price, but are packed with features. Not missing a chance to review a new machine, I recently got my hands on the Sony DVP-NS575P and thought I'd give it a quick going over and report back here. This isn't a scored review, as they are better suited to comparisons between products. Read on for my observations.
The Box (first impressions):
The player comes in an averaged sized box. It is cardboard with colour printing. On the inside, the first thing you notice is the little pamphlet about recycling. The unit has egg carton style cardboard holding it securely in place, which is a good alternative to styrene blocks. The unit itself is wrapped in thin styrene type wrap though. The manual, warranty card, batteries, audio/video RCA lead are in a plastic bag. The remote is also in a separate plastic bag. There is a cardboard separator between the accessories and the unit. This is not a bad effort, Sony tend to big on the recycling idea, especially with making the consumer aware, it is a shame about the excess plastic and use of styrene. Overall the unit is well packaged, and first impressions are very positive.
Unit and Connections:
Picking up the unit the first thing you notice is the light weight, despite of this it feels quite sturdy in construction. The front fascia is plastic, but the top cover and bottom chassis are metal. There is a soft power switch on the left of the front panel. The tray is also on the left and to the right is the display, it is hard to pick which is which initially. On the right side of the unit there are buttons for eject/play/pause/stop/previous/next. All are of a nice size and well spaced, but have a fairly lightweight action. The display is vacuum fluorescent and easy to read. On the back of the unit there are connections for optical digital/coaxial digital/component video/composite video/stereo RCA/S-Video and a switch for normal or progressive video. All the connections are well marked and spaced. The power cable is on the far right of the back panel and is fixed.
Turning on the player for the first time initiates the quick setup. This covers the basics, like TV and connections. If you need more control of the setup you can simply go back in under custom setup. There are four sections, broken up into language, screen, custom and audio. The number of things to change, combined with the easy layout makes this one of the easiest to setup DVD players I have reviewed. The instruction booklet has 70 odd pages and is clear and easy to read, in my experience this is one of the best DVD player manuals. For one of the most frustrating areas associated with electrical equipment, Sony has come up trumps, setup could really not be easier.
The remote for this DVD player has a quality look and feel to it. The buttons are small but respond well. The remote also copes well with tight angles and doesn't have to be pointed directly at the unit to work.
On Screen Display:
The OSD is supposed to show you information about the disc, chapter number, time, audio etc etc. It should be informative and easy to read and not take up too much screen space. The Sony does a good job, but falls over by trying to display too much info, the OSD is too busy and takes up more screen space that desirable. When playback is stopped there is a nice splash screen displayed. I believe the later is user changeable.
For the purpose of testing I used the following:
DVD-Audio: REM In Time 1988-2003
dts CD: Sting – Ten Summoner’s Tales
Hybrid SACD/CD: Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon 30th Anniversary
DVD: R1 Superbit – The Fifth Element, R1 RCE – Auto Focus, R4 Known Faulty DVD – Keeping the Faith
I didn't bother testing normal audio CD here as it seems to be pretty even among players at this end of the market.
The Sony's default setting is not to play a CD on loading it. This can be changed in the settings quite easily.
Using Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon hybrid SACD, I thought I would see how the player handled it. It had no problem reading the standard audio CD section of the disc and played the disc normally. This is a great CD and the playback was faultless.
On loading the dts CD and hitting play, the machine had no problems reading the type of disc. Using track 9 has a reference point, the playback was very good.
Like all DVD players, this player can read the normal resolution tracks on these DVD's. It is obvious though with the REM disc that the 96khz/24bit resolution is sadly missed.
Trying the usual suite of test DVD's this machine comes out with a clean pair of heels. The RCE disc plays with no problems at all. The R1 Superbit is superb, with stable menus (although some flicker on change) and smooth frame rate throughout chapter 5. As expected the picture was very clear and the sound suitably impressive. On to the known dodgy R4 disc, you would not have known there was a problem as it played it perfectly.
Using a CDR with MP3 tracks of varying encoding rates, the player displays the folders on loading. It is slightly fiddly to start playback, but no problems there after. Changing folders stops playback. Also navigating is a bit slow. Some of these issues could be due to lack of familiarity with Sony's remote.
Also using a CDR, this disc had various size images. All loaded without a fuss and it didn't seem to matter what megapixel rating an image had, it would take about the same amount of time to load. This unit's JPEG playback was far superior to the Pioneer DV-667A but behind the Nintaus machines tested previously.
For a name brand machine with a sub $200 rrp (or could be $219, whichever you want to believe, street price $175~$185) you would be hard pressed to find a better machine. Featuring PAL/NTSC progressive output, JPEG & MP3 Playback, excellent remote and very good build quality, Sony really throws the gauntlet down to the cheapies. Now all I need to do is get my hands on the new Pioneer and Toshiba machines (I wish).
If you'd like to contact the reviewer about anything to do with this review, you can do so at the following email contact..... firstname.lastname@example.org
Preamplifier/Processor: Pioneer VSX-D859TX
Amplification: Rotel RMB-1075
Speakers: Krix Euphonix Mains, Krix Centrix, Krix Equinox Surrounds