Friday, 16 December 2011

DVD Players Under Rs 5000

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past five years, you'll no doubt be aware that DVD players are the beginning of the signal chain in an entertainment system: the unit that plays your source disc.
A DVD player carries out the task of reading, then decoding the data on your disc and sending it to the appropriate device, which could be your AV receiver or even your TV (if you connect the video directly to it).

What are the main technical facts to consider when selecting a DVD player? Well, do check whether it supports HDMI, DivX, HD DivX (that’s something I have yet to see on a sub-5K unit) and of course extra features such as USB input playback and Kodak JPEG playback.
These are all fun to tweak and test, especially checking the upscaling engines. I personally find it more exciting to see the upscaling of these 'cheap' players, as they do sometimes throw up pleasant surprises these days. 

Of course, if you have a good AV receiver and HD ready, or a True HD TV (you lucky b***d), upscaling need not be done by the DVD player. Just send the signal via progressive output to the receiver and chill. The receiver will do the upscaling. But then chances are you will be using a more expensive DVD player in this rig, so this article is actually not for you. 

Just like any other segment of technology, DVD players come in different packages and prices. Some are cheap enough to make you blink twice and smile, while others can manage the proverbial task of ‘burning a hole in your pocket’.
This article highlights the fairly large bunch of players available that can be termed as reasonable: they all cost under 5000 rupees. The ones we have reviewed will be exposed to a greater extent, while important features of all will be enumerated.
Most of all, I’ll be trying to answer the most common question that we've been asked in different forms, time and again. It goes something like this: "What DVD player do I buy?"

After lengthy field trips to Vijay Sales and other mega retailers, numerous calls to the respective brands (some cooperated, some did not), and lots of web browsing, we've collated all this info for you…
Philips has quite a few DVD players in the market, and is still selling some old models. The DVP 6565 (Rs 4790) is good value, and quite new. It looks good too: a nice and sleek body, metallic gray chassis, with a light strip on the bottom front panel.
It has no tray sliding out on eject; rather it features a smooth slot type drive like in car DVD players. The USB input is in the front, while connections at the back include one component out, HDMI, S-video and composite.
Simple and clean, this one scores high on aesthetics. Performance-wise, the deinterlacing could be better; a few artifacts were encountered, such as blurred edges and scan lines. Fast response, good menu systems, and the absence of jerky video all make this a viable choice.
Upscaling made the player a little slow in response; setting it in the menu showed us this lag.

I learned something weird about Samsung: it had an HD-supporting model called HD860, but that's been discontinued. It cost over Rs 5000 anyway, so let’s forget that for a minute, and focus on its most common player – The P172. This one retails for Rs 3200, best price.
The P172 has a modern futuristic design, with a black chassis and a metallic silver strip on the front panel that exposes the buttons. The DVD tray is centrally located in the black region, with a camouflaged eject button. This supports DivX, DTS, but has no HDMI and USB.
These things are factored into the price, however, and performance is not bad – though artifacts are present, even in the progressive output. The image we saw was normal 576i (PAL) so resolution-wise we were getting all the lines but still something was lacking in the detail.
There are other Samsung models out there, such as the DVD P460, but with no real difference in the specs and features. 

Sony has two major units in the market, the NS57P and the NS76H. The latter costs Rs 5900 (I know it’s above our limit) and was actually out of stock when I inquired. So I guess it's selling well. The H in the name stands for HDMI (or HD at a pinch), and guess what? You get a free HDMI cable with every purchase.
The NS57P doesn’t support High-Def upscaling, but at Rs 2900 would have been quite a good buy if it weren't for one major blow – no DivX. The NS76H chassis is shiny aluminum all over, with a black tray and display frame on the front. Buttons are body-colored, giving a uniform look. It looks simple and trim, but lacks a certain snazz the others had.

The player performs quite well, with probably the best progressive scan output of the lot. We watched film, animation, and video sources with different field cadences, and all worked very well. The response of the drive was particularly prompt.
Overall I like this player. It's nice and neat, so long as can live without the 'jazz factor'. Performance was good too.

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