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AZUDA DVD-862, £159


A warning notice on the back panel of the Azuda DVD-862 solemnly urges owners ‘Do not immerse in water’, which sort of sets the tone for this strange and contradictory machine. The instructions contain classics like: ‘An Interative menu will appear. After you enter the current password, you finish to change the available level’, but the bizarre thing is the DVD-862 not a far-eastern import, it’s actually assembled in the UK (Wales actually), by a company that you probably haven’t heard of, but they are big in PCs and build systems for several well-known brands.


The manufacturer’s PC background is evident in the way the player is put together – it’s held together by loads of little screws, of the type familiar to owners of PCs – and the presence of an enclosed PC type DVD mechanism. but the main board uses the same ESS MPEG-2 processor chipsets that can be found in players from the likes of top-name manufacturers like Hitachi. More oddities; it has a built-in Dolby Digital decoder and it can play MP3 files recorded on CD-R/RW discs but the bitstream output is not dts compatible. It doesn’t have a SCART AV socket on the back, but it does have a YUV component video output on three phono sockets, which can be configured for RGB. The retail price is £200, but you can buy it on-line from the web site listed below for only £159.


There’s no messing around with firmware hacks and code numbers when it comes to region coding, just slap in a disc and it’ll play, no matter where it comes from, and should that disc be a karaoke recording, it’ll play that too, and allow you to sing along with a built-in twin microphone mixer with echo facility. It’s a real go-anywhere machine and the power supply is rated 100 to 240VAC 50/60Hz. The 862 has a Scene Digest facility that is clearly related to the one on the Hitachi DV-P505 but whereas Hitachi’s only works on Video CDs, this one works on DVDs as well. It has a 2-stage picture zoom (2x & 4x magnification), multi-speed replay but the range of fast search speeds is poor (2 x, 4x, 6x & 8x) and slomo is slightly better (1/2x, 1/4x & 1/8x), but to get to it you have to slide back the cover on the remote handset and press a ‘shift’ button, then step through the forward and reverse speeds to get to the one that you want.


It’s not what you would call a pretty machine, the front panel is a bit too busy for that, but the controls are large and accessible and include a full set of Setup menu options. On-screen displays during playback are mostly confined to status and track information however the setup menu, which can be called up when a disc is playing (playback pauses) is well presented and easy to use, the only thing to remember is not to mess with the onscreen display language, there are only two choices, English and Chinese, if you accidentally get it into Chinese mode just make sure your Mandarin is up to scratch, so you can get it back to English again!


Whilst a number of core processing components are the same as those used in other players picture quality on the 862 lacks the wide dynamic range of some of its rivals, needed to bring out picture information in murky scenes and shadows. Attention to detail is good though, colours are clean and if there were any processing artefacts we didn’t see them. Although range of trick play speeds is disappointing the picture flows smoothly, layer change is very fast and takes just a few frames.


MP3 sound quality is fine providing you don’t expect too much, however the fact that you can squeeze 10 hours of medium-fi music on a 12-cm disc is appealing, and the karaoke facility means the DVD-628 is a bit of a party animal. The Dolby Digital decoder is satisfactory, some low-level effects came across as being a bit mushy, or didn’t seem to be very well focused but the overall effect can still be dramatic and involving. The mixed stereo output response is wide and largely uncoloured but levels of background hiss are fairly average.


Without doubt this is one of the most unusual DVD players we’ve seen this year, but most of its foibles are out of sight or behind the scenes – unless you count the dreadful instruction manual. From the outside it looks like a very reasonable deal indeed. AV performance is good but not outstanding, there’s lots of bonus features, like all region playback, scene digest, the wide mains voltage operating range, even MP3 and karaoke might come in useful for some. Component video output is marginally interesting but the fact that it can be configured for RGB output makes up for the lack of a SCART socket. In the end though it comes down to price, at £200 we say it was a worth considering, but for £150 it represents remarkable value for money; we’re tempted to say there has to be a catch but apart from the puny selection of trick replay speeds and apparent lack of dts compatibility we have to say that is there is one, we didn’t find it.


Contact Elecbrand, 01639 822222, www.yesola.co.uk




The shape is a bit strange but the main controls are a good size and easy to get to, apart from the Stop button, which could have been bigger. The only real problem is slomo, which has to be enabled by pressing a shift button, hidden under a sliding flap.



So much of the back panel is taken up with warning notices it looks like all of the output sockets have been squeezed together in one corner. There are three groups of sockets; on the far left are the bitstream digital audio outputs comprising one coaxial (phono) and one optical (TOSlink) connector. In the middle are the six 5.1 channel outputs from the Dolby Digital decoder, using standard phono sockets. The standard mixed stereo output is available on the top pair of sockets (labelled ‘Main’).  Next to that are all of the video outputs. The three sockets labelled Y U V can also be configured for RGB output (the phono sockets are appropriately colour coded). Finally there is a composite video output, again using the standard phono-type socket and next to that is the S-Video output, using a 4-pin mini DIN. The slightly off-centre square hole suggests it may have been a bit of an afterthought…





SCART             N

S-Video             Y

RGB out                        Y

Component                    Y

Optical digital            Y

Coaxial digital            Y

5.1 decoder                   Y



All Region, PAL/NTSC replay, Dolby Digital decoder, multi-speed replay, 2-stage picture zoom, scene digest, MP3 playback, karaoke facility with echo, repeat playback



Features, price and generally adequate performance



Limited trick play and awkward controls, amateurish instructions


Ease of use            4

Picture  4

Sound               4

Features            5

Overall  4




Price                 £159

SCART none

S-Video 1

Digital out            optical coaxial

Decoder            Dolby Digital


Good Points

Features, price and generally adequate performance


Bad points

Limited trick play and awkward controls, amateurish instructions






Ó R. Maybury 2000, 1707






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