DVD player for $29.99
Written: Nov 30, 2003 (Updated Nov 30, 2003)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
- User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:CHEAP, Advanced Features, Reading Capability, MP3, JPEG, Small, picture quality, 5.1-Dolby Digital, DTS
The Bottom Line: The right DVD player for the modern media. Cheap, but extremely and highly capable.
I have a specific reason for buying this tiny DVD player. It can read image files as slide show or photo album viewed on TV
and it is cheap, very cheap. Its small size and lightweight makes it an excellent portable unit. Thanks to NC Ten (CL in Computers), I got hooked with Roxio PhotoSuite 5.0 Platinum photo management software that has such a wonderful feature on creating a slide show or a photo album to be watched on TV via a DVD player. The DVD player in our family room cannot read CD-R. Moreover, I need a DVD player small enough that I can take along with me to present a slide show. The CyberHome CH-DVD 300 seems like an excellent choice.
This unit normally sells for $69.99 at our local Radio Shack. But it got knocked down to half price for an after Thanksgivings Sale at $39.99. With a mail-in rebate of $10 from Radio Shack, the final price is $29.99 plus tax. For such a bargain price, I did not want to pass it up.
For a small size and cheap price, this DVD player is loaded with impressive features. For best DVD picture quality, it sports a progressive scan capability with the YUV (Y, Pb/Cb, Pr/Cr) three-component video output connection for a TV monitor that supports P-Scan (Progressive Scan). It also features an S-Video output for better picture quality. It has a Coaxial Digital output connection to work in concert with P-Scan or S-Video for optimal sound quality with a 5.1 Channel Dolby Surround Sound or Digital Theatre System (DTS). Of course, if your TV does not support P-Scan or S-Video, the CyberHome CH-DVD 300 has the standard 3-cable video/audio (R & L) connections. In other words, this DVD player has a built-in digital audio and video decoder.
The play feature (reading capability) of this DVD player is what impresses me the most. Are you ready? This DVD player can read:
1. DVD (12cm or 8cm size) Single-Sided or Double-Sided DVDs of Single-Layer or Double-Layer type,
2. Conventional Audio CD Music CDs, CD-R and CD-RW discs containing CD-Audio tracks,
3. Video CD Video CDs with or without the PBC functions,
4. MP3 discs CD-R or CD-RW
5. JPG image files CD-R or CD-RW containing digital photo images in JPEG formats, with .JPG extension.
The CyberHome CH-DVD 300 is very small, about 4 inches larger than the Compact Disc itself. It has a square shape measuring 8.75 and 9-inches (both sides) and 1.75-inch thick, a total height of about 2 inches with the feet.
It has a simple operation with only six buttons on the front panel: Eject (Open/Close), Fast Reverse, Fast Forward, Play/Pause, Stop, and Standby/On (power switch). Of course, for a cheap DVD player, it should have just basic operation buttons, right? Wrong! This unit is well equipped and sophisticated. It comes with an impressive wireless remote control, loaded with features and operation buttons and functions. All of the basic operation buttons on the DVD player panel can be accessed through this remote.
With this remote control, you have access to the following advanced features:
- Setup (to access on-screen setup menu)
- Zoom (by 2x, 4x),
- View Angle,
- Fast Forward and Fast Reverse with speed at 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x and 32x ,
- Program (program titles, chapters or tracks to playback in a specific order)
- Title (select title menu supported by V-CD or DVD discs)
- Goto button (to navigate to a specific chapter, etc)
- Audio (changes the available Audio track with discs that support multiple languages or soundtracks)
- Subtitle (turns on subtitles through available languages on the discs)
- Menu (for Menu Title)
- Mute (to turn off audio)
- Skip buttons for next or previous track or chapter
- Bookmark (to store the current point on the disc)
- Numerals for quick access to chapter or track number
- Cancel button to clear input
- Slow button (with available speed 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16)
- Repeat (2 repeat buttons)
- Effect (enables reverb effects for Audio CDs and MP3 discs, etc).
For example, with Setup feature, you can adjust settings for your video and audio preferences; it even has features like Parental Lock. You have several options for video settings, such as TV type; several languages can be selected as well.
For DVD, option on subtitle, such as language preferences, is possible. For TV display, you can select normal screen or widescreen (16:9) for movie effect. With Parental Lock, the unit offers options on password, so that only you can access it.
With audio setup, you can adjust the signal to suit your audio equipment. For example, if you have a digital receiver, this option allows you to select a digital output in the form of bitstream or LPCM for digital sound quality and clarity, especially for a 5.1 Dolby Digital.
There are lots more
The CD tray opens and closes very smoothly and quietly. Its open and close response is also quick. It opens and closes via the Eject button. It reads immediately as soon as the disc is loaded.
For viewing DVD movies, I have tested this unit with the 3-cable video/audio connections and the S-Video combined with the 5.1 channel digital output via the coaxial cable. To be honest, image quality is hardly distinguishable between the S-Video and the standard video cable. However, with the coaxial digital output the ultimate realism of theatre sound experience is assured, provided you have a receiver equipped with a digital decoder and you have a Surround Sound speaker system (five speakers: front-right, center, front-left, rear-right and rear-left, and a sub-woofer or base module).
When I bought my wide-screen HDTV (High Definition TV) two years ago, I thought I should get an S-Video cable for my DVD player to take advantage of its high image quality, partly with a suggestion made by a salesperson. I spent $30 for a 6-feet S-Video cable, with the perception that image quality would greatly improve. After awhile, that perception faded away because it failed to convince me with my own eyes. I have made test comparisons between the two connections (S-Video and standard video cable) on my HDTV. I have friends to view and make comparison. There is no clear distinction between the two.
If your TV does not have an S-Video cable, I am almost certain you are not missing much of image quality. I am not saying that S-Video and standard video cable produce the same image quality. I am saying, from my experience, that there is very little difference in image quality that it is not worth spending money on an S-video cable.
The P-Scan video output connection is an entirely different story; and if your TV supports this technology, it is worth spending money on getting these cables. Here, three cables, each carrying a primary color (yellow, blue and red) and luminance signal, puts in layer on the TV screen to achieve high fidelity in reproducing true colors and contrast. Note: From an artist point of view, primary colors are yellow, red and blue. But actually, scientifically, the correct primary colors are red, blue and green (not yellow), commonly known as RGB.
The description of the P-Scan video input connectors may vary from TV to TV, but the operations and functions are the same. My HDTV supports both the S-Video and P-Scan inputs. And I regretted to have bought the S-Video cable before the P-Scan ones.
In terms of performance, this DVD player is pretty good, in fact, impressive. How good? As a comparison, I have watched DVD movies on my expensive DVD player (Panasonic DVD-K520D) and this cheap one. To put it bluntly, there is no difference.
For an enjoyment of music, sound quality is excellent. I have played conventional CDs, CD-R or CD-RW and this unit is as good as any CD player.
I dont have a lot of video CDs. In fact, DVDs are far superior to V-CDs, and therefore we should take advantage of DVDs over the V-CD ones. The image quality of a V-CD (which uses MPEG-1 video compression) is no better than that of the VHS tape. I have one Video CD to play on this unit. Its image quality is as good as that played on any V-CD player. In other words, image quality is no difference than viewing it on my expensive DVD player.
This Video CD feature is now phased in with another format that shares reading capability with the new media stored on a CD-R or CD-RW as image MPEG (or MPG) information or JPEG file information. I will discuss this feature below.
The MP3 music format recorded on a CD-R or CD-RW is a media that I have yet to try. For this one, I have nothing to say at this point. However, if you have MP3 audio tracks on CD-R/W, this unit can play it.
CD-R/W JPEG image files
For me, this is the highlight of this DVD player. I am most certain this feature will be the one enjoyed by the entire family. Here, your digital photo images on a CD can be read and viewed on TV, in the form of a slide show or photo album. However, the image files have to be in JPEG format (or JPG), with .JPG extension. You can view photo images on CD made by a photo-finisher or your own recording from your PC.
With the zoom and view angle operation button, a photo image can be paused then zoomed in and viewed at different angles. I have tested this unit with images I made using Roxio PhotoSuite 5.0 Platinum photo management program in a form of a slide show and a photo album stored (burnt) on a CD-R in JPEG file formats. I must admit this little cheap thing is very impressive and highly capable.
Durability, Dependability and Reliability
The phrase You get what you pay for seems to always hold true for a quality product. However, I have not used the CyberHome CH-DVD 300 player long enough to test its quality/price ratio (to prove or disprove this old saying), especially its durability and long lasting with repeated use. This product is made in China, not in Japan. Will it break down in a few months? I dont know. Perhaps when that happens I can update this review. But, so far I am hands down impressed with the features and capabilities that it offers. For the price I paid for, it is the best buy ever.
My Thoughts and Reasons for Buying a Cheap DVD player
Previously, when making a purchasing decision, high quality product is my top priority. High quality means higher price, and I am willing to pay the high price to get that superior quality and performance.
High quality product still produces high quality or superior performance. A $100 19-inch color TV is definitely inferior to a $500 19-inch color TV, in terms of picture quality, reliability, durability, long lasting and features.
Let me explain by using photographic equipment as an example. I paid $1930 for a 35mm SLR camera Nikon F5. Compared to a lower-end Nikon N55, the F5 costs more than 15 times. For the two years that I have used it, I am totally convinced that its quality is also more than 15 times the Nikon N55, in terms of superior performance, capability, dependability, reliability, long lasting and features. I know that ten years from now, the Nikon F5 will remain a featured and high performing 35mm camera, despite other more advanced 35mm camera introduced in this time frame
nothing will change in the 35mm format, except improvement on the quality of films. In fact, Nikon F5 was introduced in 1996. Today, it still remains the top-performing camera in the world.
This is not the case with the DVD technology. The technology of CD (Compact Disc) format is a never-ending progress. Back in the 1980s, the first CD player came out. Soon after, the most advanced Compact Disc player was developed, the DVD player (lead by Toshiba and Warner Bros.) that could read conventional DVD movies, Video CD, Audio CD. Then reading capability of a DVD or CD player further improved, with the ability to read Audio CD Recordables (those recordedburntby a conventional Audio CD recorder), CD-R/W, DVD-R/W, Video CD on CD-R/W, CD-DA (those burnt by computer CD-ROM drives). Now, a DVD player can read virtually all formats currently available in the audio, video and imaging platform. The most recent are the MP3 and JPEG files. What next? Perhaps, soon a DVD or CD player will read CD-ROM and will be able to access all the information that a CD-ROM drive can.
Compared to my expensive DVD player, the CyberHome CH-DVD 300 is a very modern DVD player. Being able to zoom in on an image or view it at various angles, or equipped with a P-Scan does not necessarily qualify for a modern DVD player. By modern I mean it can read CD with formats that were not available several years ago. In fact, the P-Scan, View angle or Zoom features were available long ago, but only on expensive DVD players. My other cheap DVD player (made by RCA) does not have digital output, S-Video nor P-scan. Being a cheap DVD player, it only supports the standard 3-cable video/audio (analog) output. But the CyberHome CH-DVD 300 has all or most of the features that only expensive DVD players have. My Panasonic DVD K520D has P-Scan, but it does not have zoom or view angle features; and for $499 I considered it very expensive.
For me, personally, I have become a little wiser now, as an alert consumer. I am not going to spend a lot of money on a DVD player that will be obsolete in a few years down the road. In my view, my expensive Panasonic DVD K520D is definitely an example. For a DVD player like the CyberHome CH-DVD 300 that costs $30, even if it breaks down in a year, I still think it is worth the money spent. I can then buy another one with more features and capabilities that new technology has to offer.
If you want a versatile DVD player that supports multi-media platform, which can read or play DVDs, CDs, V-CDs beyond the conventional ones (such as, DVD-R/W, CD-R/W, etc) at a cheap price, then this CyberHome CH-DVD 300 player or any similar product is definitely the way to go.
I gave a solid 5-star rating for this DVD player, because I am very impressed with its capability and features, image as well as sound quality with respect to its cheap price.
Specifications: CyberHome CH-DVD 300
Playable Discs: DVD, Audio CD, VCD, CD-R, CD-RW
TV System Supported: NTSC, PAL, MULTI
Laser: Semiconductor Laser with wavelength of 650nm
Freq Response (digital Audio):
DVD: 4 Hz 22 kHz, 4 Hz 44 kHz
CD: 4 Hz 20 kHz
Signal-to-noise Ratio (digital): More than 90dB
Audio Dynamic Range (digital): More than 80dB
Harmonic Distortion (digital): Less than 0.015%
Wow and Flutter: Less than 0.001% (W. Peak)
YUV P-SCAN / Video Output component
Coaxial Digital Output
Power Supply: AC ~ 100-230V, 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption: Normal Mode: 12 W, Standby Mode: 6.5 W
Dimensions: 8-3/4(W) x 2-9/32(H) x 9(D) inches
Weight: 3.5 pounds
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Amount Paid (US$): 29.99