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JVC HR-XV1EK, £300

 

STANDFIRST

The JVC HR-XV1 combi VCR/DVD – is this a one box solution or double-trouble?

 

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There’s something not quite right about the JVC HR-VX1. The styling is awkward, in fact the front panel is plug-ugly and the case metalwork appears unusually thin. The on-screen displays are not as slick as usual casting some doubt over its parentage but no matter, it’s still a useful looking dual-deck machine, combining a moderately well-specified NICAM VCR with a similarly straightforward DVD player.

 

In case you’re wondering, no it can’t record from DVD but the VCR section does have all the usual convenience features, including a Video Plus+ timer, auto installation, NTSC and Super VHS playback, plus a set of front AV inputs, for editing or copying home videos. The DVD features are fairly routine though, there’s a 3-stage zoom/shrink facility, MP3 replay and 3D spatial sound otherwise there are very few frills, but then it only costs £300 or so, which is about what you’d expect to pay for a basic NICAM VCR and an entry-level DVD player.

 

Whoever makes it AV performance is up to JVC’s usual high standard; tape replay is pretty good with a sharp picture, little noise and natural looking colours. DVDs come out a tad dark, the contrast balance could definitely do being a little wider but it handles brighter scenes very well, picking out fine detail and texture without any difficulty. There’s no sign of processing artefacts or block noise in tricky movies, like Moulin Rouge, which is brim full of movement and rapid lighting changes.

 

The VCR soundtracks have no more than average amounts of background hiss and the DVD mixed stereo output is very clean, generating a big spacious soundfield with sharply focused effects.

 

There’s no doubting the convenience of a one-box package; this one performs well and the price is fair but be prepared to sacrifice some flexibility.

 

What's good                  price, AV performance and dual deck convenience
What's bad
                   not a pretty sight, slightly ‘tinny’ construction


Value for money rating
   4
Ease of use rating
               4
Performance
                              4
Features
                                  4
Overall
                         4

 

Contact: JVC UK 0870 330 5000, www.jvc.co.uk

 

DETAIL

Not surprisingly packing two disparate technologies in one box has resulted in a large and slightly cumbersome remote control handset, but it could have been a lot worse; frequently used buttons are a good size and easy to find, and the transport keys glow in the dark.

 

 

DVD BUYERS GUIDE XTRA INFO

 

Make/model                  JVC HR-XV1

£                                  £300

VERDICT                      4

STATUS                       

COMMENTS            useful combi deck but lacking usual JVC style

TYPE                            DVD/VCR

5.1 OUT                        N

OUTPUT                       Dig (optical and coaxial)

COMP'NT VID            N

SCARTS                       2

ISSUE              105      

 

TECH SPEC

VCR: VHS NICAM Hi-Fi with NTSC & SQRB playback, Video Plus+ with PDC timer, auto installation, multi-speed replay, DVD: Region 2, PAL/NTSC replay, MP3 replay, multi-speed replay, picture zoom/shrink, 3D sound

 

AV in/out (2 x SCART), S-Video (mini DIN), mixed stereo and coaxial bitstream (phono), optical bitstream (TOSlink), Front: AV in (phono)

(DVD-R ok, DVD+RW no)

 

 

 

 

HEAD

SONY DVP-NS305, £180

 

STANDFIRST

Sony’s latest foray into the budget DVD player market is a real crowd pleaser

 

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Sony’s first slightly awkward attempt at a budget DVD player -- the DVP-NS300 -- has been swiftly followed by the much slicker-looking NS350 marking the welcome return of the manufacturer’s flair for innovation and style. The NS350 is housed in a sleek 62mm high case, immediately setting it apart from most of its chunkier contemporaries and it’s bristling with important sounding performance enhancements like the ‘Precision Drive 2’ deck mechanism and advanced digital noise reduction systems. However, it is an entry-level machine and the only extras of note are MP3 replay, 4-mode picture control and 3D sound. It’s a little short on socketry too with no optical bitstream or S-Video output connectors though the latter is available on the rear panel SCART connector.

 

Video performance is excellent quite possibly the best in its class. We’ll have to wait for a group test comparison to be sure but the picture has a rare three-dimensional quality that makes fine detail and colours stand out, and not just in bright or well-lit scenes, it’s across the board, revealing plenty of texture in gloomy sequences, backgrounds and shadows. There’s not a hint of processing noise or artefacts and it doesn’t miss a beat with the explosions and flashes in fast-paced action flicks like Phantom Menace or The Matrix. 

 

For a change the 3D sound options are quite effective and the mixed stereo output is lively with very little noise but it deserves to be hooked up to a decent AV amp, which will also benefit audio CD and MP3 replay, which are both a cut above the norm.

 

Yes it is quite basic but it more than makes up for the lack of toys with superb AV performance, smooth good looks and as an added bonus you get the Sony build quality and badge kudos at an affordable price.

 

What's good                  Performance, price and styling
What's bad
                   basic specification, socket shortages

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

 

Contact Sony 08705 111999, www.sony.co.uk

 

DETAIL

Picture controls are not that common on DVD players and on those that have them they’re rarely very effective but the one on the N305 works quite well. It has four preset modes (Dynamic 1 & 2 and Cinema 1 & 2), which vary brightness, contrast, colour and black level to suit different types of material

 

DVD BUYERS GUIDE XTRA INFO

 

Make/model                  Sony DVP-NS305

£                                  £180

VERDICT                      4

STATUS                       

COMMENTS            basic entry-level machine but a great performer

TYPE                            DVD

5.1 OUT                        N

OUTPUT                       Dig (coaxial)

COMP'NT VID            N

SCARTS                       1

ISSUE              105      

 

TECH SPEC

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

 

AV out (1 x SCART), composite video, mixed stereo, and coaxial bitstream (phono)

(DVD-R & DVD+RW ok)

 

 

---end---

 

Ó R. Maybury 2002, 0605

 

 

 

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