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LG DVD-3200, £200

 

Past experience has shown that most manufacturers coming into to the DVD market really get into their stride after the second or third model range. On that basis the next budget DVD we see from LG should be a real cracker. Unfortunately the DVD-3200 marks only a relatively small improvement over its first entry-level machine, the DVD-2330, which appeared late last year. The 2330 actually did fairly well and came across as a decent enough machine selling for the then reasonable price of £250, but LG’s timing was a wee bit unfortunate. The 2330 reached the shops at about the same time as the floodgates opened with a wave of ultra cheap decks, many costing less than £200, several of them with high-end features like on-board Dolby Digital decoders. LG responded quickly and the price of the 2330 has since fallen to around £190, but the arrival of the DVD-3200, priced at just under £200 still puts them a step or two behind the budget leaders, in a segment of the market that LG has traditionally been a force to be reckoned with in other home entertainment technologies.

 

Although the core specification has changed very little from its predecessor the new machine has been given a facelift and it now looks quite smart in its silver livery and slimmed down case. There are number of welcome additions to the feature list and these include 3D sound and NTSC playback. The range of trick-play modes has been improved as well and now provides four slomo speeds (x1/16, x1/8, x1/4 and x1/2 normal speed in both directions) and four bi-directional picture search speeds (x2, x4, x16 and x100). It also has a two stage picture zoom (4x and 16x) and a 5-scene bookmark but the question is, are they enough to make it stand out from the crowd?  

 

Many machines in the sub £200 price bracket have easily hackable region code locks, or none at all; as far as we are aware the 3200 is fixed on Region 2 playback. At the time of going to press none of the usual web sites have any details about how to change that situation. It shouldn’t matter but it does and for some this lack of flexibility will count against it.  Operationally it is quite well behaved and easy to use; on-screen displays are confined to a simple menu bar that appears on the left side of the screen Available options include language and soundtrack settings and switching 3D sound on and off. One small bonus is the fact that you can switch to the high-level deck set-up menu without exiting playback; the picture is blanked, but once you have made changes you can return to the point where you left off. 

 

One thing that hasn’t changed is the lack of an optical bitstream output, not in itself a big problem, but some may find this inconvenient. The coaxial bitstream output is now dts compatible though. A new remote handset is included with this machine and it is markedly easier to use than the one that came with its predecessor.

 

Picture quality hasn’t changed a great deal since the 2330, overall it is quite good though we feel that skin tones are still a bit flat and it doesn’t fully render all of the subtle variations in shade that some of the better players are able to manage, nevertheless colour accuracy is fine and images look reasonably natural. Resolution is generally okay but on our sample some fine detail was lost when there was a lot of activity on the screen. The picture’s dynamic range is fair to middling though shadows and dimly lit scenes manage to obscure some picture information. We didn’t see any processing artefacts and layer change is about average, taking just under a quarter of a second on most of our test discs.

 

The mixed stereo output has a wide and flat response with plenty of room for Dolby Surround soundtracks. Background hiss is adequately well suppressed; low-level sounds and dialogue are clearly focused and there’s sufficient bass to drive big action blockbuster effects.  It stacks up quite well as an audio CD player as well, comparable with mid-range players and systems in it ability to extract fine detail in most types of music.

 

There is no doubt that the 3200 is an improvement over the 2330 and we are pleased to see new features like NTSC playback and the revamped remote, but little things, like the lack of an optical bitstream output continue to irritate. Visually it looks a lot better and it doesn’t look out of place alongside players costing significantly more. However, whilst LG has done a lot to improve this machine the fact remains that rival manufacturers continue to up the ante with cheaper and better-specified players that will inevitably make them look like more attractive propositions. The LG brand simply doesn’t have the same kudos as the better-known Japanese and European brands, which is a shame because there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this player; it’s just not very interesting.

 

Contact LG Electronics 01753 500470

 

BOX COPY 1 – REMOTE VIEWING

The remote handset supplied with the 2330 was a bit of a dog and we are very pleased to see that it has been replaced on this new machine. As you can see it is on the large size but the layout has been well thought out and all of the most frequently used control and transport buttons are large, clearly labelled, easy to identify and fall readily to hand. We even quite like the number shaped buttons, though past experience has shown they attract crud like mad and quickly become sticky, so don’t forget to wipe your fingers if you’re eating pizza… 

 

BOX COPY 3 – AROUND THE BACK

Although not a huge problem -- and most users probably won’t miss it -- we reckon the lack of an optical bitstream output is a bit short-sighted. Otherwise the back panel has a fairly routine selection of socketry. The single SCART socket can be configured for RGB or S-Video output, this option is on the player’s set-up menu. There are separate S-Video and composite video outputs and the analogue mixed stereo output is carried by a pair of phono sockets. NTSC output is selected using a small switch next to the video output phono.

 

THE HARD FACTS

LG DVD-3200               

OUTPUTS

SCART             Y

S-Video             Y

RGB out                        Y

Component                    N

Optical digital            N

Coaxial digital            Y

5.1 decoder                   N

 

EXTRA FEATURES

Region 2, PAL/NTSC replay, dts compatible bitstream out, multi-speed replay, 2-stage picture zoom, 3D sound, 5-scene marker

 

GOOD POINTS

Average to good AV performance, improved features and styling

 

BAD POINTS

Lacklustre specification, no optical bitstream output

 

Ease of use            4

Picture  4

Sound               4

Features            3

Overall  3

 

 

BUYERS GUIDE EXTRA INFO

Price                 £200

SCART 1

S-Video 1

Digital out            coaxial

Decoder            none

 

Good Points

Average to good AV performance, improved features and styling

 

Bad points

Lacklustre specification, no optical bitstream output

 

Rating

3

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2000, 0207

 


 

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