Pros: Cheap, Basic Functions, Progressive Scan, Dolby Digital
Cons: Cables are very short. Unit is small, not standard component size.
DVD Players come with a multitude of features at a multitude of Price Points. The RCA DRC200N is a basic 'bottom of the line', plain vanilla DVD player. At $34 complete (Best Buy), it represents the least expensive "Name Brand" DVD Player I was able to find.
This review discusses what it does, what it doesn't do, out of box experience, and some observations about the unit.
The rating is based on the the combination of features and price. For example, it's a $34 machine, I won't downgrade it because it's not HD DVD -- that's not a feature you get at this price range.
In the Box
You get the basic unit, a small remote unit (with battery), basic output cables, and instructions.
What it is
A plain vanilla DVD with a few nice features. It will play your DVDs, It will play your CDs, It will play MP3 mode, it supports WMA and JPEG. Outputs are "standard", Component, S-Video and has an output jack for Coax cable -- pretty much any output type you're going to want. It also has has progressive scan.
The DRC200N also has a couple of interesting features -- worth noting -- it Supports Dolby Digital (nice if you have an older receiver). Also, a feature called TV Guardian, which means you can set it up to bleep out the cuss words (If I read the instructions correctly).
What it isn't
It isn't stylish. The unit is smaller in width than a standard stereo/video component. So if you stack units, this one will have to go 'on top' Also, it will be obvious that this is an inexpensive DVD, not a high priced component -- so if your friends are snobs, beware.
Also, this is not a DVD recorder -- playback only. However, for $34 no one would expect this.
Also lacks the uplink feature for High Def, and certain playback formats (divX/MP4,notably)
There are only three buttons on the unit itself. (1)Open and close the disk tray; (2)Play and (3) Power/Pause/Standbye. For everything else, you have to use the controller, which is rather small. Also, the controller takes a CR2025 battery, rather than AA or AAA, but you can find these in most hardware or camera stores, so no problem. The controller itself was fairly intuitive and most users won't have problems using it.
Out of Box Experience
The unit was fairly easy to set up. No easier or harder than any other unit on the market. In my case, my previous unit used component outputs, so it was literally a plug in (but see below). However -- the factory preset is for S-Video, so if you want to use the component outputs, you'll have to change the setting. This is clearly pointed out in the instructions, and very easy to do. It will take you about 10 seconds.
The instructions themselves are short and simple. This is refreshing after looking at the multi-page books for many units. I can NEVER find the information I want. RCA has boiled everything down to an easy to follow 4 page pamphlet.
One drawback to any inexpensive unit is that there is only one Audio Output -- this means that if you want to run sound through both your stereo and your TV, you'll have to buy splitters (cost about $20 -- a substantial fraction of the cost of the unit).
One problem I encountered was that when I used the component outputs, I found an interference pattern on the screen. However, I had the same problem with other progressive scan DVDs that I was testing, so I suspect that this is either a shielding problem with any inexpensive unit or more likely a problem resulting from my having an older TV that probably doesn't support Progressive Scan.
I solved the problem by using an S-Video Cable (another $15, and now I've spent more on cables than the unit).
The picture playback is more than acceptable. I'm sure there must be a difference between this and my older/more expensive unit but honestly, I can't see it. Sound -- I guess the question I'd ask, is have you ever heard a bad CD player (if hooked up to a decent receiver/speakers). If you're the kind of person who can hear the difference, you probably shouldn't buy a $35 dvd player.
Two things to point out, one good, one bad. First, the bad.
If you use standard audio/video connections, you'll probably have to buy new cables (unless the DVD is right next to your TV). The supplied cables (at least they supply them) are VERY short. So if this is part of a audio/visual rack, the cables are practically unusable.
Now the good. This is a Region 1 machine. Meaning -- it plays DVDs manufactured for the US/Canada region, but not foreign disks for other regions. Good thing, since it's being sold in the US. However, if you check on the internet, you will find "hacks" that enable you to change the region. Reset this for Region 0, and it should play ALL DVDs from all regions. This, of course is not unique and hacks are available for many units.
NOTE -- I haven't tested these "hacks" myself, so can't vouch for them. The salesman at the store also indicated that some (but probably not all) are preset at Region 0. However, if you have foreign disks, and feel competetent reprogramming the internal settings, knowing the codes can be found should be helpful.
I like this unit. Brand Name, Inexpensive, Nothing fancy, but I don't care about that, and more features. If you're looking for an inexpensive unit that gets the job done, this product should do the trick. If you want other features and are willing to pay for them, there may be other units that do the trick.