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TEAC DV-H550 DVD PLAYER  & AG-H550 AV RECEIVER, £399 (amp £499)


So far mini-sized DVD players have been a bit of a rarity. Manufacturers prefer to play it safe with (largely empty) VCR sized boxes, nevertheless, the Ďminií form-factor makes a lot of sense both as a space saver and as a stackable add-on for a mini hi-fi system or AV amp. The TEAC DV-H550 is a case in point; itís a neat little stand-alone player and it looks even better when teamed up with the companion AG-H550 AV receiver/digital surround amp.


The DV-H550 has an unremarkable spec for a mid-priced player, thereís no on-board Dolby Digital or dts decoders, for example, but then it doesnít need them, if itís used with an AG-H550. The gadget count is quite low too, but for most users, interested mainly in watching movies, thatís no great loss. It does however have a good selection of trick play options (4-speed search up to 100x and 3-speed slomo), thereís also 2-stage picture zoom, it can play MP3 recordings on CD-R discs, back-panel sockets are gold-plated and we have it on very good authority that the region lock can be disabled with a simple handset hack (your local Teac dealer should be able to oblige with the details).


A combination of slick styling, sensible front panel and handset layout and clear and simple to follow on-screen displays means itís very easy to live with and that extends to picture and sound performance. Well-lit scenes are crisp and lively with natural-looking colours, from delicate skin tones to the saturated extremes in Toy Story II. The real test is how well it copes with more contrasty material, rapid movement and sudden changes in brightness, all of which can be found in the opening minutes of Batman & Robin. The shadowy interior of the Bat Cave is brimming with fine detail and texture and the fast-paced fight scene in the Gotham Museum looks spectacular.


We used an AG-H550 AV receiver to assess the playerís audio capabilities. Theyíre well matched and despite a relatively modest power output (55-watts per channel in surround mode), 5.1 soundtracks have plenty of impact but it definitely needs a beefy sub-woofer to bring out the best in big-set-piece effects and explosions.  However, the partnership really starts to pay off with audio CDs. Between them the player and amp turn in a very respectable set of results, delivering a crisp, well-rounded sound thatís suited to a wide range of musical styles, from intricate solo guitar and violin pieces through to raunchy rock.


On its own the DV-H550 comes across as a competent, smart-looking though not especially exciting player but combine it with the AG-H550 and add some decent speakers youíve got the makings of very useful mini hi-fi system, and itís definitely worth shopping around for a deal, especially if theyíre bought together.


Verdict 4/5


Teac, (01923) 819630, www.teac.co.uk


Overall              4

Picture Quality            5

Sound Quality            4

Features                       3

Ease of Use                  4

Build Quality                  4

Value for Money            4



The slender grey-coloured remote supplied with the DV-H550 is one of the better ones weíve seen lately. All of the transport and cursor keys are grouped together at the front of the handset and assigned to large, light-coloured buttons. Whatís more you donít need a double-jointed or extra long thumb to get to them all!





£                                  £399

VERDICT                      4


COMMENTS            Fine little mini-sized player and a perfect partner for the AG-H550 AV receiver/surround amp

TYPE                            DVD

5.1 OUT                        N

OUTPUT                       Dig

COMPíNT VID            N

SCARTS                       1




N.B. Lee, I donít know if you want to add in a line or checkbox somewhere about DVD+RW/DVD-R compatibility but Iíll run a check on all new machines from now on; for the record this one:


DVD+RW/DVD-R          N/Y



R. Maybury 2001, 1611





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