To go along with my HDTV, I decided that I needed to upgrade my DVD player. While my Insignia DVD Recorder/VCR didn’t look awful, it certainly didn’t look good. And while the quality of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are definitely impressive, the on-going format war combined with the cost made those players inviable options.
Enter the market of upconverting DVD players. These players, which take your standard 480i DVDs and scale them to high-definition resolutions are as common as regular DVD players these days. Places like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, are full of them. I’ve actually owned two of them.
I started with the highly-touted Sony DVP-NS75H which is truly a great machine. It has a great design and a super picture quality. Sadly, it only upconverted to 720p or 1080i, not 1080p as my set is capable of. While I’d like to think that I’m not a total videophile, I noticed some of the ghosting and artifacts that interlaced video can expose when put on a big screen. Despite the claim of my HD monitor to do de-interlacing, I was finding that it didn’t do an especially good job.
Enter the Philips DVP5982. Based on Philips well-received 5960 the 5982 adds support for 1080p output as well as improved USB compatibility. I returned the Sony, picked this one up, and set it up. Here are some of my observations:
The DVP5982 is a basic upconverting player that you can get for around $70. It includes an HDMI output for upconverting along with coaxial digital audio outputs, plus the standard analog outputs (component, s-video, composite, and stereo audio). There is no upconverting over the component outputs however. It supports DivX file playback (as long as they’re standard resolution and not too large) over USB from a FAT32 formatted device. The menu system on the 5982 is a bit archaic and hard to read, but it’s manageable.
What I Like:
- True 1080p output. I was suspect of whether the 1080p output would make any visible difference over the 1080i of the Sony. I was wrong, the 1080p output made a huge difference in certain troublesome scenes from movies. I had noticed with the Sony that whenever there was a light or white background (such as a white wall or the sky) and there was motion in front of it, there were artifacts left all over the screen. In the same way, motion scenes would blur and leaving ghostly lines on the screen. Those problems are largely gone with the Philips.
- DivX playback. I have a 160GB hard drive attached to the USB and loaded onto their I have various movies that I’ve captured onto my computer from my cable dvr. Rather than burning all of these onto DVD or having to hook my computer up to the TV to watch them, I can just transfer them onto this hard drive and hook them up to my DVD player and they play. Pretty much every file I’ve thrown at it has played no problem (but I don’t have any DivX HD files). The only exception was some movies that were encoded at incredibly high data rates. Even then, for the occasional really large or really high data rate file you can put it onto a DVD in DivX format and play it from the player.
- Image Quality – although its not as good as the Sony with some adjustment to my tv settings the image quality is still very good. There is some minor pinching
What I don’t like
- Audio Output – this machine will either output over the HDMI cable OR the digital coaxial out – but not both at the same time. This really is only a minor problem, but it can make things more complicated than they need to be
- The Disc Tray – The tray feels kind of floppy and cheap
- The Menu System – Simply put, it’s awful. Once you figure out the fonts and how it works, it makes sense, but the visual appearance really leaves something to be desired.
- The Image Quality – As I said above, it’s not quite on par with the Sony, although the elimination of the ghosting and artifacts make it a worthwhile trade off.
Well, seldom am I so glad I spent $70 on something. Some minor inconveniences aside, for the price you cannot beat this player if you’re looking for 1080p (or want to future-proof you DVD player). I feel very comfortable waiting out the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray battle with this player attached to my HDTV – DVDs look fantastic. The DivX playback, while somewhat limited by what USB devices can be attached, is a really nice added feature. But for me it was the combination of price and 1080p playback that convinced me – and I haven’t been disappointed.