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The Sony DVP-NC600: A Great DVD Player, A Great Price
Written: Jan 24, 2002 (Updated Jan 24, 2002)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
This DVD player is being run through a Sony STR-DA555ES home receiver (audio only) with video (direct to monitor) displayed on a Sony KV-XBR250 36". The speakers used are JBL TLX181 fronts, Paradigm Titan rears, and a newish (look for my upcoming review) AR 2C center channel speaker that replaced a surprisingly capable AudioSouce unit. The cables used for audio and video transfer between components are from Monster and Tributaries respectively. All wire to speakers are standard Monster 12g. The test movies include The Phantom Menace, Memento, The Limey, Final Fantasy, Starship Troopers, and BladeRunner. Just thought I’d share.
The Getting, The Opening, The Playing
I got this player as a gift from my mom for my birthday tomorrow, since I'm over the hill, I'll be 28. We went to Circuit City as well as Best Buy. To my surprise, Best Buy was cheaper this time, but only by a few dollars, so it’s really your call if these are your choices as well. I opted not to get the service plan, not with a DVD player, well not one with this low a price. Chances are nothing will go wrong and all I really expect is 2 years service at which point I assume Sony will have a progressive scan 400 disc DVD offering out for less than $500 at which point I will offload this on a friend.
Sony has gone south in a couple of areas since the mid 90's. One of these areas is adequate packing in low line products. They just aren't fully secure. Even during the walk to the register in Best Buy, I notice how much movement there was in the unopened box. The remote is safely packed and the manuals and offers are just thrown in on top. Nothing special to report here.
If you have basic a/v knowledge, hook up is very easy, but if you don't the manual is very clear and very detailed which is very unlike Sony. Really all we are talking about here is a standard 5 disc platter only it plays DVDs, so those of you with carousel experience with a CD player will have little trouble getting started; select a disc, push play. There are many features available to the user ion the remote, some are clear some might need a little research, like the BNR function, more later.
The audio options available on the player should be more than adequate for the average user that might be hooking this player directly to a TV rather than running the signal(s) through a home theatre receiver. Though the latter is always preferable, this player offers a number of audio settings to make a TV seem more than what it actually is. In the booklet given they show various “virtual” speaker locations said settings would simulate. I haven’t used these simply because I route my audio signal digitally to my receiver. I can say, however, that if the effects are even half what is currently available in their TV lines, most folks will be happy with the changes realized.
For those of us that do have a home theatre receiver, the sound is surprisingly good whether listening to CD-Rs or DVD movies. Most Sony receivers will decode the signal as 5.1 or 2 channel for you automatically which is beneficial if you’re lazy. Seriously though, the separation and punch of each channel is clear and focused, not like what Pro-Logic was. For those still stuck with Dolby Pro-Logic, the sound is still very good though leagues away from digital. I am not too concerned with this units inability to play MP3 discs simply because it is primarily a video component and most of my audio is run off my hard drive. I don’t have an MP3 car unit so I have no need for it to transfer past my computer tower.
It’s really very good. As the TV I own has a mode in which it compresses the picture slightly, I had to choose the 16:9 video output on this players video menu to activate that feature. I was thoroughly impressed with the change in the 16:9 accuracy from the last player I had. Although I did like my little Sony DVP-S330 (died about 5 months ago), this unit just seems to have a better signal when it comes to this specific DVD player video output mode. There doesn’t seem to be any other real changes other than this unit doesn’t exhibit as much fuzziness along the edges of sharp static lines in any given scene, but if it did there is a way to get by it…sometimes.
This player has a feature called BNR which stands for Block Noise Reduction. This refers to the visual distortion sometimes seen in high speed or heavy action scenes in some movies. It is intended to reducing the “blocking” seen, the little squares on the screen that can form and stay for a bit. Essentially what this means for most people is that on a given DVD, you may be able to sharpen the picture a bit on you particular TV. As the manual admits, you may not notice a difference in the picture quality. I never did on any of the DVDs I have played so far. I liken this to the DRC option on their VCRs, I noticed no change when that was used either. It may actually serve a purpose, I didn’t notice a change with or without it.
There is some occasional notchiness to some of the really fast moving scenes in some of the movies so far, but I am especially picky and its possible what I am talking about simply may not be seen by the general user. The fast forward and reverse are a little notchy too. They don’t seem to be a fluid as they used to be, there is hesitation sometimes between chapters and that is not something I ever saw with the 330, these are minor points though. All told, this DVD player has quickly reminded me why I spent $2200 on a television.
Things I Like
The menu on this unit is slightly changed from my DVP-S330. It is a little more streamlined and doesn’t always require as many keystrokes to perform a given function. The quick set-up is all that will ever be necessary for most folks, but the advanced menu is just as easy to use though it has not changed since the last model run. Although I preferred the older jog dial style remotes (S300, S500, S530, etc) with the luminescent buttons and will admit that although the dial took some serious getting used to, I am just as happy using the newer style that relies on just two keys.
The remote now controls receiver volume with a simple programming procedure using only 4 keystrokes. The only receivers covered are most models by Sony, Denon, Kenwood, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sansui, Technics, and Yamaha. This may not sound like much, but this feature is just now finding its way onto Sony remotes when in reality it should have done more than a decade ago if only for Sony products. I also really like the “Instant Replay” feature on the remote which jumps back about five seconds without having to fiddle with search buttons for what you just saw.
The front panel layout is good looking even with my aesthetic quibbles. I do like the way they have brought over some styling queues from the ES line of SACD and CD players in the shape and feel of the play, pause, and stop buttons, the little joystick on the right and the lighting and look of the disc select buttons.
Things I Don’t Like
At the bare minimum, some of the remote buttons should be lit or at least glow in the dark. This a small quibble though, once I start a movie I generally just watch it all the way to the end, maybe only pausing it now and then. The tray and front plate (its plastic, not metal) seem a little cheap. The player also makes a fair amount of noise when changing discs, enough at least to freak out my cats if they are close by. This makes me nervous, but my 5 disc changer and both VCRs (all Sony) have done this without episode for years, so it may be nothing. That’s really about it, other than its general look, which I am warming up to, I have no other complaints.
There you have it. It’s a very good little player for a reasonable price. One can currently find this on the web for as little as $183, which is a heck of a deal on a very nice little DVD player. It is important to note that the lower end single disc units aren’t all standard Sony width, some are a little less than the usual 17”. This seems to be the case for many of the new lower level offerings from Sony. I can only really see this a s cost savings measure unless it’s a universal move to a slimmer component line overall. Anyway, the point is, if you want all your Sony components to match, this something to think about.
This player does everything it is supposed to with great aplomb. It has a very good picture with excellent audio signal transfer, holds five discs, allows you to change 4 while playing the fifth, and is reasonably affordable, what more do you need? If you are thinking about a first DVD player or an upgrade, check out the Sony DVP-NC600, you may find it to suit your needs exactly.
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