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
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.
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.
Pioneer, (01753) 789789
AV performance, unusually flexible connection
options and wide ranging picture controls
Awkward remote control and cranky operating
system and you’re paying for some very specialist facilities that few people
will be able to use.
JVC XV-723 £700
Nakamichi DVD-10s £600
Toshiba SD-9000, £700
‘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’.
Ó R. Maybury 2000, 2209