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PHILIPS DVD-750, £300

VERDICT ***

 

Why’s it here: Despite its pioneering role in the development of DVD Philips has maintained a fairly low profile to date, producing just a handful of fairly mediocre players. That could all change later in the year but for the moment the DVD-750 is the company’s main step-up model, intended to lure buyers away from the budget/entry-level DVD-710 with a handful of extras, like additional AV connections and a handful of convenience features.

 

Any unique features: The words Made in Hungary is not something you see every day on a DVD player, though it’s not that surprising since Philips has a number of factories in the country. Apart from that the 750 is fairly unremarkable and not dissimilar to its cheaper stable mate. Such additions are there are give the appearance of being tacked on. There’s a truly weird 3-stage zoom, (1.33x, 2x and 4x magnification) which immediately puts the player into pause mode, thus rendering it practically useless, unless you only want to magnify one frame. Hardly any of buttons on the handset – especially those involved with replay speed and direction -- do what you expect them to do, finding your way around a disc can be a very frustrating business until you get the hang of it. The handset is a disaster area, there are two buttons marked ‘Menu’, two labelled ‘Repeat’ and one just called ‘T-C’, it’s all very confusing and it’s a good idea to keep the instruction manual close to hand. The supplementary feature list is quite brief, in addition to all of the standard facilities there’s 3D sound, which adds a spatial effect to the mixed stereo output and a headphone socket on the front, with a variable level control. The only other items of note are a pair of SCART sockets on the back panel, (composite and RGB), and a Type U SCART cable is included with the machine. As usual we had a quick poke around inside the box – all present and correct – but you may be interested to know that this machine currently holds the record for having the most empty space. The deck mechanism and sparsely populated printed circuit boards only take up about one third to a quarter of the room available.

 

How does it perform: The on-screen displays are really horrible and difficult to navigate, the time and chapter readouts are too small and the menu bar uses obscure graphics to indicate the various things going on. It’s certainly not very intuitive, though you probably would get used to it, eventually…The pop out disc loading draw is rather abrupt and quite clattery, the tray looks and feels a bit flimsy, though the actual deck is fairly quiet when it is running.

 

Picture quality is actually very good and the image from our sample was sharp and well defined, certainly comparable with the kind of detail we’ve come to expect from most current mid-range and top-end machines. Colours are crisp and it copes well with subtle shades and variations. The picture can be quite contrast though and shadows swallow up a fair amount of detail but it is by no means the worst offender in this respect. Fast play is quite jerky, slomo is smooth, though, you have to engage the on-screen display to make full use of it. Layer change on our sample was quick and clean, taking less than half a second on our reference disc. Audio from the analogue mixed stereo outputs was also up to the mark, background hiss is kept well in check and Dolby Surround soundtracks are bright, lively and full of detail.   

 

Our Verdict: Sad to say the DVD-750 is a rather dull offering with several rough edges, especially around the handset and control system. Its one saving grace is slightly above average picture and sound performance, but it’s not enough to make us want to go out and buy one, or commend it to you, unless you happen to find one selling for silly money.

 

Philips 0181-689 2166

 

UP CLOSE

 

Features            Region 2 PAL/NTSC, DTS compatible, picture zoom, 3D sound, multi-speed replay, RGB out, SCART cable supplied

Sockets             rear: 2 x SCART AV, composite video, mixed stereo, digital coaxial (phono), optical digital out (TOSlink), S-Video out (mini DIN). Front: headphones (jack)   

Dimensions            435 x 88 x 315mm     

 

Rival Buys

HITACHI DV-P250,  £300

JVC XV-515,  £300

PANASONIC DVD-A160,  £330

 

 

Captions

It all looks fairly normal from the outside but inside the box there’s mostly air

 

The layout of the remote handset is quite confusing, two buttons labelled menu and what’s ‘TC’ mean?

 

Twin scars and a fairly routine assortment of sockets on the back panel, the front headphone jack and level control is a bonus

 

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2000, 2101

 

 

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