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PIONEER DV-737, £699

Billed as the replacement for that hardy perennial the Pioneer DV-717 the DV-737 is actually a bit dearer at a gnats under £700 but that’s due to several rather exotic features, which we’ll come to in a moment. It looks a lot like its predecessor with a big gold tinted, lightly sculptured and sparsely populated front panel, and it still weighs a ton, thanks to the heavy-duty chassis, deck mechanism and power supply.

 

The core specification is little changed and at first glance it appears quite basic; there’s no built-in digital surround decoders for instance, and few if any, picture or sound widgets -- unless you count TrueSound spatial sound – but closer inspection reveals some rare and unusual facilities. The most radical one has to be the ‘Pure Cinema’ non-interlaced progressive scan option. This is a highly effective way of eliminating flicker and increasing picture stability, it is very closely related to way PC video displays operate. The trouble is it only works on NTSC discs, and you have to have a compatible projector or TV to watch it on, and they’re not exactly common (or cheap). Before you ask the region lock on this player can be easily changed to Region 1, which is just as well as Japan is the only source of R2 NTSC DVDs.

 

Of more immediate interest to home cinema enthusiasts is this machine’s extensive array of manual picture controls that can customise the player to work with just about any type of display device and fine-tune the picture for almost any movie. These include four independent digital noise reduction systems, advanced contrast (black/white level and gamma correction), and manual adjustments for sharpness, colour level and chroma delay. Settings are stored and picture preferences for up to 15 discs can be memorised.

 

Connecting the player to other AV components and displays isn’t going to be a problem, in fact owners will be spoilt for choice with two SCART sockets carrying composite, S-Video and RGB outputs, there’s also separate S-Video and composite outputs (two of each) and a YUV component video output. Command and control is via a shiny remote handset smothered in titchy buttons and a large shuttle dial that’s actually more trouble than its worth. On-screen menus and displays are well presented but can be awkward to navigate at first.

 

Picture performance can be excellent, though you can easily end up spending more time fiddling with the controls than watching what’s going on. Colours are lifelike and crisply defined; although the picture is not significantly sharper than most other mid to high-end players it does a bang up job picking out detail in dark and gloomy sequences. The only minor grumble concerns sluggish layer change, which can take a quarter of a second or more on some movies. The mixed stereo and bitstream outputs are very clean and deserve to be heard through a decent amp/processor and speakers.

 

Verdict

The DV-737 is not for everyone, the price sees to that, but for the few discerning and well-equipped individuals that can make use of progressive scan and appreciate the extensive picture controls, it has to be worth considering.

 

Rating  3

 

Pioneer, (01753) 789789

 

Pros

AV performance, unusually flexible connection options and wide ranging picture controls

 

Cons

Awkward remote control and cranky operating system and you’re paying for some very specialist facilities that few people will be able to use.

 

Rival Buys

JVC XV-723 £700

Nakamichi DVD-10s £600

Toshiba SD-9000, £700

 

Quote

‘Manual picture controls can customise the player to work with just about any type of display device and fine-tune the picture for almost any movie’.

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2000, 2209

 

 

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