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BUSH DVD-2023, £99

 

COPY

You could never accuse Bush DVD players of being boring or conformist but whilst price and styling are often quite eye-catching performance has tended to be a bit variable. But now it looks as though it has got the balance just right with the new DVD-2023. This £99 player is a real cutie, the case is around two thirds the size of a traditional budget machine, smartly presented with a tiny fluorescent display panel and a neatly ordered row of buttons either side of the centrally mounted loading tray.

 

There are no special features to speak of, just the usual assortment of playback functions and format-standard audio facilities. However, we’re reasonably certain this model is being shipped with a disabled region lock but do check before you buy as these things can and do change without warning. The only other extras are a 2-stage picture zoom and MP3 replay. Our sample also happily played both DVD-R and DVD+RW discs and, unusually for a budget model, it has both forward and reverse slow motion. Even the remote handset is a notch up on the horrible little button boxes supplied with many budget players, the important keys are a good size and clearly labelled.

 

The best bit is video playback quality, cheapie players have a tendency towards cramped contrast and blotchy colours, especially in darker scenes but the 2023 scores well on both counts, managing to extract a lot of detail and texture from shadows, flesh tones look natural and saturated colours are very crisp. It has coaxial and optical bitstream both of which are very clean and the analogue stereo channels have below average levels of background hiss so effects on the Dolby Surround soundtracks and audio CDs have plenty of impact.

 

Budget DVD players can sometimes be a bit of a gamble but this one’s got the sort of features you actually need, it looks and performs like a mid-market machine and you know the name.

 

DETAIL

Although the 2023 plays DVDs from all regions straight out of the box you may find that it refuses to have anything to do with some US Region 1 discs, spiked with RCE (region code enhancement) codes. We haven’t tried it yet but these discs can sometimes be persuaded to play by skipping the intro messages or inputting a chapter number.

 

VERDICT

 

What's good:  price, performance and compact case

What's bad: tiny, hard to distinguish front panel buttons


Features
                      3/5
Performance
                  4/5
Ease of use
                   4/5
Value for money
            4/5
Overall
              4/5


Overall comment

It’s basic and so is the price but you could pay twice as much for comparable performance and styling

 

Key Features

All region replay

MP3 replay

DVD+RW/DVD-R replay

Picture zoom

 

Contact: Bush 020 8787 3111

DVD BUYERS GUIDE XTRA INFO

 

Make/model     

£                                  £99

VERDICT                      4

STATUS                       

COMMENTS            excellent little budget machine

TYPE                            DVD

5.1 OUT                        N

OUTPUT                       Digital

COMP'NT VID            N

SCARTS                       1

ISSUE              110      

 

TECH SPEC

All region replay, PAL/NTSC replay, MP3 replay, multi-speed replay, 2-stage picture zoom, SCART cable included

 

AV out (1 x SCART), S-Video (mini DIN), composite video, mixed stereo and coaxial bitstream (phono), optical bitstream (TOSlink)

 

Proc CCubeziva4

 

 

HE 109

 

HEAD

HITACHI DV-P325

 

COPY

Hitachi has a good record in DVD with a succession of able, well-featured and sensibly priced machines. Several of the entry-level and mid-range models are badge-engineered Samsung machines but that’s not a problem, quite the opposite in fact. Build quality and performance is up to Hitachi’s usual standard and a number of players have easily hackable region locks, something of a rarity amongst A-brand manufacturers. Sadly the region lock on the DV-P325 is firmly fixed to Region 2 and a hack may prove elusive, possibly non-existent, as this machine appears to be unrelated to previous budget models.

 

There are other signs that this is a new breed, the internal layout is unusual – the processor board and power supply are new and in different locations and this is the first DVD player we’ve tested that hisses… As well as the whirring from the deck motor there’s a distinct rushing sound coming from the power supply board. We hope it’s a one-off on our early sample but if you’re considering a P325 you might want to cast an ear in its direction, as the sound could be distracting.

 

Otherwise it’s a trim and tidy little machine with a handy search dial on the right side of the front panel; the rest of the controls are all a good size and reasonably accessible. The remote handset is on the large side but instead of using the space to good advantage the buttons are all a small and grouped together, not a pretty sight and not especially easy to use…

 

The feature line-up is fairly typical with the now almost obligatory MP3 replay, picture zoom and 3D spatial sound heading up the list. There’s a switchable black level function that lifts the contrast by a notch or two but we found it was better left in the on position for the majority of movies. Picture search goes up to 60x in both directions but the 3-speed slomo is forward only. Future compatibility looks good and our sample played both DVD-R and DVD-RW recordings without any fuss. Connectivity should be no problem either with a full compliment of AV output sockets and a SCART, though this only carries composite and RGB video, the S-Video output is on the standard mini DIN socket only.

 

Video quality is very good indeed, fine detail is cleanly rendered and the contrast range – with the black level control in the on position – is wide enough to bring out the backgrounds in gloomy scenes. Noise on the analogue stereo output is well suppressed and when heard through a decent Dolby Pro Logic decoder low level surround effects are distinct and sharply focussed. Audio CDs also sound fine and the P325 can easily double up as capable hi-fi component.

 

It’s a shame about the apparently rigid region lock but don’t give up hope, a hack may yet be found. However, on the basis that it’s stuck on region 2 only it is still a generally likeable player with no serious vices, good all-round AV performance and the price seems fair.

 

DETAIL

Normally DVD players are fairly quiet, the only mechanical components capable of generating noise are in the deck mechanism where there are several motors. The only one you are likely to hear when a disc is playing is the one spinning the disc, though occasionally you can hear the pickup servo ‘hunting’, as the laser assembly skips to different areas of the disc. There’s usually another motor for the disc loading tray but this is idle most of the time. Noisy electronic components are unusual, however. Large mains transformers often emit a low level hum or buzz (not a factor in this case) but a hissing sound usually means a high-voltage arc – often a precursor of component failure fail – or something resonating. Either way it shouldn’t happen and if an AV device suddenly starts making unusual sounds it’s usually wise to switch it off and have it checked.

 

 

VERDICT

 

What's good

Picture and sound quality

Audio CD sound

Comprehensive front panel controls

Smart, compact case

Front panel shuttle dial

 

What's bad

Forward only slomo

Worrying hissing sound

No region hack code yet…

Unwieldy remote control


Features
                      4/5
Performance
                  4/5
Ease of use
                   4/5
Value for money
            4/5
Overall
              4/5


Overall comment

Smart looking entry-level player with some useful, if unexciting features and above average picture and sound quality

 

Key Features

MP3 replay

DVD-R/DRV+RW replay

3D spatial sound

Picture zoom


Contact: Hitachi 0345 581455, www.hitachitv.com

 

 

DVD BUYERS GUIDE XTRA INFO

 

Make/model     

£                                  £150

VERDICT                      4

STATUS                       

COMMENTS            Solid and stylish design with above average performance

TYPE                            DVD

5.1 OUT                        N

OUTPUT                       Digital

COMP'NT VID            N

SCARTS                       2

ISSUE              109      

 

TECH SPEC

Region 2, PAL/NTSC replay, MP3 replay, multi-speed replay, picture zoom, 3D sound, picture control

 

AV out (1 x SCART), S-Video (mini DIN), composite video, mixed stereo and coaxial bitstream (phono), optical bitstream (TOSlink)

 

Procpan/OME-A-D

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2002, 0708

 

 

 

 

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