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LECSON DVD-900, £170

 

VERDICT ****

Lecson probably wonít mean much to most people but the name actually goes way back, to the early days of hi-fi. You may well be wondering what relevance an old and largely forgotten hi-fi brand has to do with state-of-the-art DVD? Probably nothing, nevertheless itís a point of reference in a market filled with new and unfamiliar names. It also makes a change from several other hi-fi manufacturerís forays into DVD, who seem to feel obliged to pitch their wares at the top end of the market Ė with price tags to match -- despite the fact that their players were often little more than thinly disguised badge-engineered mid-market models. The Lecson DVD-900 is an unashamed budget priced machine but with a feature list that a year or so ago would have ranked it as a luxury product. 

 

The cosmetics are fairly restrained, a little old fashioned in some ways -- if anything to do with DVD can be described in that way -- but the main thing is it should blend in easily with most AV systems and room dťcor, it certainly doesnít look cheap. Build quality is satisfactory though we were a little surprised by the untidiness of the internal wiring. Signal and power cables Ė and there seem to be a great many of them -- are intertwined and free to flap around. It didnít appear to be causing any problems nevertheless itís not the sort of thing we expect to see find in a DVD player.  

 

The headline audio feature has to be a built-in Dolby Digital decoder and thatís backed up by a 3D spatial sound effect, it can play MP3 files recorded on CD-R/RW discs and thereís a volume control on the remote handset. Our sample was set to all-region playback and we have every reason to suppose all others are the same. The DVD-900 has a passable set of multi-speed replay functions (2 x, 4 x, 8x, 20x) including a quite bizarre selection of six forward and six reverse slomo speeds, for good measure thereís also a single stage picture zoom and a 3-scene bookmark facility.

 

Installation from the first level setup menu uses a rather plain looking set of on-screen displays, not that thereís anything wrong with that moreover theyíre perfectly legible and easy to use, both from the handset and a duplicate set of controls on the front panel. One unusual and rather disappointing omission is any level controls or speaker adjustments for the Dolby Digital output, apart from an on/off switch for the sub-woofer channel. On screen displays during replay are quite sparse and only give basic info about track and disc times, chapter, language and subtitles.

 

From a technical standpoint of view DVD playback is generally very good though getting the player to do anything is hampered by cramped and badly placed buttons on the handset. Nevertheless, picture quality is fine, the contrast range is nothing to write home about, it makes dark and moody scenes look even more sombre than they were intended to be, a little detail is lost in the shadows but otherwise resolution and colour fidelity are up to the mark, though it lacks the precision needed to faithfully render subtle shades like skin tones. Processing is clean and fast, it had no problems with our tricky discs and layer change happens so quickly youíre unlikely to notice it on most movies. Trick replay is rather heavy-handed, 2x fast play should be smooth, as indeed it is on the majority of players, but this mode seems to use a skip-frame technique that makes it look jerky, and hard to watch for more than a few moments.

 

The Dolby Digital decoder produces a big and expansive soundfield that moves easily between high and low-level effects, the sub channel is very busy and big noisy bass sounds can be very dramatic. The mixed stereo output is wide and clean with no more than average amounts of background hiss, giving Dolby Surround effects plenty of room to breath. The 3D sound option isnít very satisfactory and gives the sound a tinny quality. Audio CD replay is good, itís in the mid-market hi-fi ballpark. MP3 replay is adequate, at least it conveys whatís on the disc, however since thatís likely to be thin lo-fi sounds about the best thing you can say is that itís handy to have for parties or making background sounds since a disc can hold up to 12-hours of MP3 music tracks.

 

Picture and sound quality are both acceptable and about what you would expect from a budget player, the fact that it has a built-in Dolby Digital decoder is a big selling point, and the all-region playback is the icing on the cake. Itís let down a bit by the design of the remote control but thatís liveable and some aspects of build quality could be better. You could spend a bit more and get slightly better picture and sound performance, however, in the end it all comes down to the fact that this player is outstanding value for money and a good way of finding out what DVD can really do, at an affordable price.

 

Contact Diva Corporation, (01480) 469253

 

BOX COPY 1 Ė REMOTE VIEWING

Itís mostly a question of size. The buttons on the handset are too small and too close together, the Play button in the middle of the cursor control cluster is microscopic and the layout of the rest of the transport keys is quite haphazard.

 

BOX COPY 3 Ė AROUND THE BACK

Connections to the outside world are handled by a conventional array of sockets on the back panel. It has two 21-pin SCART AV sockets, which in addition to the format standard mixed stereo audio output can be set for RGB video output on the main setup menu. It also has a pair of gold plated phonos carrying separate composite video outputs and thereís an S-Video (mini DIN) output socket as well. All of the analogue audio 5.1 channel and mixed stereo outputs are via a set of six gold-plated phono sockets and it has the standard set of dts compatible bitstream outputs, with the coaxial signal on a phono socket and the optical output on a TOSlink connector.

 

THE HARD FACTS

LECSON DVD-900

OUTPUTS

SCART             Y

S-Video             Y

RGB out                        Y

Component                    N

Optical digital            Y

Coaxial digital            Y

5.1 decoder                   Y

 

EXTRA FEATURES

Region 2 (see text), PAL/NTSC replay, Dolby Digital decoder, dts compatible, MP3 replay, multi-speed replay, stage picture zoom, 3D sound, 3-scene marker, karaoke function, volume control 

 

GOOD POINTS

Price and facilities, satisfactory AV performance

 

BAD POINTS

Awkward remote, lack of 5.1 channel level controls

 

Ease of use            3

Picture  4

Sound               4

Features            4

Overall  4

 

BUYERS GUIDE EXTRA INFO

Price                 £170

SCART 2

S-Video 1

Digital out            optical coaxial

Decoder            Dolby Digital

 

Good Points

Price and facilities, satisfactory AV performance

 

Bad points

Awkward remote, lack of 5.1 channel level controls

 

Rating

4

---end---

 

R. Maybury 2000, 0109

 

 


 

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