Pros: Great looking device, three DVD trays, great craftsmanship, high-quality, jog shuttle switch.
Cons: One mechanism used to pick DVD from trays, remote control too difficult to master.
***Warning: This review is for the average consumer. I am NOT an audiophile. I aspire to becoming a technophile. As such, the review will deal only with the glowing attributes and glaring faults of this machine.***
Technical specifications for this machine were obtained from: http://www.jvc.com/product.jsp?modelId=MODL010025&archive=true&page=2
SURPRISE! IT?S FOR YOU.
When I graduated from law school in May of 2000, my significant other bought me the JVC XV-M555BK DVD player as a graduation present. I had never owned a DVD player before, so I was pretty excited. I opened the box and, as usual, challenged myself by attempting to connect the JVC to my television, VCR, stereo, cable box and amplified antenna without reading the instructions. Thankfully, all of my electronic components are clearly marked, and I met with success on my first try. However, I must recommend that all readers thoroughly familiarize themselves with any instructions supplied with complicated electronic components.
The JVC can only be described as a handsome machine. It is black, with semi-flush control buttons that click when pushed. Except of course for the mysterious looking Shuttle knob, which sticks way out there. That?s your jog dial: you can use it to fast-forward through the scenes of the DVD, much like a VCR. The JVC is pretty tall, with a height of 5". That?s because there are three separate trays for three separate DVDs. The trays are stacked one atop the other, but each one is a separate mechanism. All told, the JVC weighs in at 11.3 pounds, making it a pretty hefty component. The case is metal and quite sturdy, so I felt safe stacking other components atop it.
WHAT?S IT DO?
The JVC XV-M555BK plays DVDs, Video CDs, Audio CDs, and connects to your computer via an included AV compulink cord. The JVC features a Parental Lock system which allows a parent to set playback limits based on the industry-wide G; PG; PG13; R and NC-17 motion picture standards.
The JVC will NOT play: DVD-ROM; DVD-RAM; DVD Audio; DVD-R; DVD-RW; CD-R; CD-ROM; Photo CD; CD-RW; CD-Extra; CD-G; CD-Text; or 8-cm Discs.
WHAT?S ALL THAT CRAP BACK THERE?
Crap indeed. The JVC instruction manual calls those funny things with round holes ?jacks?. More specifically, Video Out jack, S-Video Out jack, Component Video Out jack, Digital Out jack, Audio Out jack, and AV Compu Link jack. Wow. Who knew?
The challenging part to marrying the DVD player to your system is figuring out what goes where. For me, the DVD player had to be connected to a total of 5 other components. It took me awhile to figure it all out, but once the spaghetti tangle of wires was safely hidden behind the entertainment center, I was able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
That was all I could hear as my graduation guests and I watched The Matrix on DVD. The picture was stunning, and of course the sound was great. One big difference between watching DVDs and VHS tapes is the flexibility of the format. Since DVDs fit much more information on a smaller surface than VHS tapes, you?re able to pack more features into the medium.
Depending upon the features built into the digital video disc itself, the XV-M555BK can allow you to choose subtitles and the language of the subtitles. You can choose the language the people speak in, as well as the angle at which the scene plays. You can zoom in on the scene at any specific part of the frame, or watch a DVD in normal format (pan scan), wide angle or in the letterbox setting. If you rented a wide angle DVD but don?t like the lines at the top and bottom of your screen, the JVC allows you to choose the pan scan setting, which would make the picture more normal looking. The JVC allows you to choose the visual settings seen on your screen as well.
The remote control for the JVC is very small, very complicated, and very annoying. It took me nearly a year to master all those small buttons. But the easiest thing about this remote control was configuring it to control my television. That took all of one minute to do. Configuring remote controls is not always that easy, let me tell you. It once took me three hours of experimenting to get my Radio Shack 4-in1 Remote to control my television, VCR, and cable box. It STILL won?t control my stereo.
Okay, back to the JVC. Although the tiny buttons on the remote are difficult to master, they provide every function you?ll need. Interestingly enough, the JVC itself has several controls right there on its face. In case you ever lost the remote, you?d still be able to enjoy your DVD experience. The XV-M555BK features the following on-board command buttons: Power; Digest; Strobe; separate Open and Play buttons for each of the three trays; Theater Position; 3D Phonic; Dimmer; Jog Shuttle; Stop; Pause; Play; Skip Forward and Reverse. Is that quality craftsmanship, or what?
For those of you who are new to DVD viewing, there are several special features that I enjoy on my JVC which are not available on my Samsung video cassette player.
THEATER POSITION: You are able to select from three television screen brightness or dimness controls. These are appropriately named Theater Positions 1, 2, and 3. Theater Position 1 is the brightest, while Theater Position 3 is the dimmest. This may not sound like much, but imagine the difference in brightness between a daytime soap opera and a romantic movie. Yes, you?ve got it: the romantic movie is much dimmer. This feature allows you to ?set the mood,? if you will.
DIGEST: Don?t remember where you last left off? The Digest button will show you the beginning frames from each Chapter. The frames are lined up in 3 rows across by 3 rows down like little menu boxes (there are 9 frames at a time on your television screen). You are then able to pick the corresponding frame, and then immediately jump to that portion of the movie. My only beef with this function: it takes a few seconds for the frames to line up on your screen.
SUBTITLE: This actually allows you to choose which language you read subtitles in. In some DVDs it also allows you to choose which language you?ll hear the actors speak. How cool is that?
My biggest and only real complaint about the JVC is that the ?tray server? ? the device that picks the DVD up from the tray and plays it ? sometimes hesitates when switching DVDs. It is also quite noisy, and clunks as though something is wrong. It works fine, but that noise is a constant annoyance.
A small gripe and minor disappointment is the screen saver. When you pause a picture, the screen saver comes on and dims the screen temporarily to save your television screen?s sharp picture quality. After a preset time, the screen saver changes to a dynamic picture or design. Unfortunately, my screen saver doesn?t always work ? sometimes it does not activate at all. I don?t know why this happens.
If you would like to buy a DVD player, I highly recommend the JVC brand. I have owned the JVC for over a year, and it has proven to be a fine, reliable performer without any major flaws.
My XV-M555BK has been replaced by the manufacturer with the newer XV-M567GD model, which is the same visual style but gold in color. The JVC website at http://www.jvc.com has current prices and specifications.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS (as found at http://www.jvc.com/)
XV-M555BK -- Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $449.95
? Compatible with DVD Video, CD and Video CD
? High-bit/high-sampling (10-bit/27MHz video) D/A converter
? Component Video, Composite Video, and S-Video terminals
? 1-bit P.E.M. D.D. Converter with 96kHz/24-bit audio resolution
? Multi-brand remote control
? Optical digital outputs for PCM, Dolby Digital and DTS
? Separate construction throughout: Power supply, Digital circuitry, Analog Video and Analog Audio circuits are physically separated
? "Digest" function for visual access to desired title/chapter
? 3D-Phonic for virtual surround sound
? "Zoom" and Strobe" functions
? Dynamic range (2 channel) 106 dB
? Coordinated home theater look
? Theater position (1,2,3,OFF)
? Video output
? DVD Component Video output
? S-Video Output
? 1 Year Parts, 90 Days Labor Warranty
? Weight: 11.3 lbs
? Width: 17 3/16"
? Height: 5"
? Depth: 12 13/16"