Pros: Great picture and sound; dirt cheap
Cons: Tiny remote; HDMI cable not included; weird delays when ejecting or loading
For what this thing does, it's pretty good. It's important to point that out upfront because some people might be mislead by the term "upscaling."
Will this DVD player magically transform your standard definition digital DVDs into high definition pieces of wonder? No. It will not. Sadly, you can't pay $50 and expect something magical to happen. Upscaling, as it turns out, isn't that big a deal -- this DVD simply pumps DVDs encoded at 480i through an HDMI cable and converts them to a format that looks better on a high definition set. You still get standard definition video but it does come through clearer (possibly) than you've seen it. Furthermore, the sound pumped through an HDTV cable is crystal clear. I love the fact that one cable provides both my sound and video -- that cuts down on clutter.
Honestly, that's good enough. The picture is, frankly, better than I expected with this RCA unit -- it's still not high definition, though.
Having dwelled too long on all of that, there are some things about this particular DVD player that annoy me. For one thing, the player didn't even come with an HDMI cable. It came with RCA composite plugs and I was very disappointed. RCA threw the term "upscaling" on the box for this unit as many times as it could (within reason), but didn't provide the HDMI cable necessary to take advantage of that feature? That just makes no sense. To make matters worse, I grabbed an HDMI cable for about $5 when I purchased this player and I'm sure RCA could get those for a few pennies. The company should have thrown one in with the unit but decided to save a buck or two. That's a cheapskate move, folks.
Also, the remote on this thing is tiny, tiny, tiny. It's about the same size as the remote that came with my kids' portable DVD players. It gets lost easily around here. A remote for a home-based unit should be bulky so as to make it easier to find. This RCA remote, however, is easily lost and that's just annoying. Fortunately, the range on the remote is pretty good and it's easy to control the unit with it (provided you can find the thing, of course).
Also, it takes a very long time for the unit to eject a disc or read a new one. Those are very basic functions that should have been mastered by any company familiar with DVD technology. Regardless, this RCA unit takes an aggravatingly long time to perform either of those functions.
Finally, it takes a bit of time to decide whether this unit is on or not. The "standby" light is this bright red thing that glares at you whereas there are absolutely no lights on the unit at all when the thing is powered up and running. That goes counter to everything we've learned through the years -- lights indicate "on" while blackness indicates "off." Come on, RCA.
Of course, durability is always an issue with DVD players. We've had this thing for a few months now and have played a heck of a lot of discs on it. It works as well as it did when we first got it and I suspect it will hold up for some time. If it does decided to stop functioning, however, I only payed $50 for it. Even if it blows up tomorrow, I've gotten my money's worth.
Regardless of the few gripes I have, this unit has proven to be a reliable one that makes my old DVDs look great on my HDTV set. It's quite a bargain at $50, so my gripes are very minor when I consider how little this player cost. If you purchase it without expecting your standard definition DVDs to magically become high definition things and pick up an HDMI cable when you buy the player, you'll probably like this unit just fine.