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We have been predicting the arrival of the £100 DVD player for some time; it hasnít happened just yet but weíre nearly there! The recently launched Cyber Home AD-N212 is the now cheapest player on the market at just under (well, one penny under) £130, from branches of WHSmiths and on-line from www.jungle.com. DVD ceased to be a luxury product just under a year ago, when the cost of budget models fell below £200, but now players are cheap enough to justify buying a second one for the bedroom, or the kids.


Being so cheap there has to be something wrong with it, so whatís the catch? Well, it is very basic. Donít expect too much in the way of convenience features or toys, in fact playing DVDs and audios CDs is about the only things it does. Thereís a two-speed picture search and 3-speed slomo (forward direction only), but no SCART socket so thereís no RGB output, but it does come with an AV lead and SCART adaptor. Ironically the printed circuit board in the machine has all the connections for a back panel SCART socket, and we suspect it would add only a few pence to the manufacturing costs to fit one, which is probably a good deal less than the supplied adaptor cable. It is sold as a Region 2 player but itís a simple enough matter to set it to all region playback, or change the region code (which might be useful if the new Region Code Enhancement system now being introduced by Warner and Tri-Star does itís stuff). The actual procedure is to switch on and open the disc tray, press 7, 6, Select on the remote, on the menu that appears choose 13 for multi-region, press Setup then switch it off and on again.


The manufacturers clearly havenít wasted any money on fancy styling; itís a dull-looking black box, full stop. The remoteís not much to write home about either, the layout isnít very good, which is par for the course on budget players, though it is notable for having a misspelt label, at least we assume they meant the button to read ĎAngleí and not a means of summoning spiritual beings Ö


The one area where cost cutting would not be acceptable is AV performance and fortunately thatís not a concern on his machine. It uses the popular C-Cube processing chipset thatís at the heart of a good few other DVD players, some of them costing twice as much as this one. Colours are sharp and reasonably natural looking; images reveal plenty of fine detail. The contrast range could do with being a bit wider, dark scenes and shadows look a bit murky and there is a trace of texturing in lowlights, otherwise it gets a clean bill of health. Some background hiss is evident on the mixed stereo output but itís no worse than average and audio CDs sound fine, comparable with a typical mini hi-fi system in fact.


If youíve been putting off buying a DVD player until the price came down or youíre after a second player, the wait is over!


Cyber Drive, 01243 5300009, branches WHSmiths and www.jungle.com





SCART             N

S-Video             Y

RGB out                        N

Component                    N

Optical digital            Y

Coaxial digital            Y

5.1 decoder                   N



All Region playback (see text), PAL/NTSC replay, dts compatible, multi-speed replay, SCART cable included



Low, low price, very reasonable AV quality



Basis spec, no SCART socket,


Ease of use            4

Picture  3

Sound               3

Features            4

Overall  4



R. Maybury 2000, 2610




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