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MUSTEK DVD-560, £80

 

STANDFIRST

Eighty quid for a full-spec DVD player with 5.1 sound, so what’s the catch?

 

COPY

Mustek are best known as manufacturers of PC peripherals and in particular well-specified and attractively priced scanners. If the DVD-560 is anything to go by one day DVD players may be added to the list, but not quite yet Nevertheless it is amazing value, just £80 for a player with a built-in Dolby Digital decoder, component video output, MP3 replay, some useful AV controls (volume, brightness and contrast), a twin laser pickup and a loose region lock (see Detail). The fascia and casework are quite plain though, and the remote handset is an all too common mixture of tiny, close-packed buttons and an awkward layout. The control system is a mite sluggish too and every so often you find yourself stabbing at a button as the machine fails to respond, or is slow to do so.

 

Our sample had no difficulty with DVD-R test discs but mis-read DVD+RW recordings as audio CDs, with a frightful hissing noise coming from the analogue stereo output. DVD-Video replay was decidedly lacklustre, even the background/intro screen looks a bit rough, and there’s really no excuse for that... The main problem is a narrow contrast range resulting in noticeable blocking in darker scenes; skin tones and graduated colours are a shade coarse and fine detail can look a touch fuzzy at times. The stereo audio output is marred by some background hiss and high-frequency noise in the background during quiet sequences or dips in volume; this is also apparent on audio CDs (a surprise in view of the twin pickups). The Dolby Digital analogue outputs sounded good though, with a wide clean response, well-focused effects and a lively sub-woofer channel.

 

Inevitably the DVD-560 is too good to be true and picture quality is borderline disappointing. It shouldn’t look too bad on a sub 28-inch TV but for anything larger, keep looking…

 

DETAIL

To convert the 560 to Region 1 or all-region replay, with the disc tray empty press Setup then Next, Previous, Next, Previous on the handset. ‘V2’ appears on the screen, use the right and left cursor buttons to change region number (1 to 6) or 255 for All-Region. Exit Setup and it’s done!

 

Contact:Time Xtra 0800 027 7777, www.mustek.com

 

VERDICT

What's good?

Amazing value, generous spec

What's bad?

Narrow contrast range, sluggish controls


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

 

KEY FEATURES

Dolby Digital decoder

MP3 replay

Hackable region lock

Headphone output

 

 

DVD BUYERS GUIDE XTRA INFO

 

MUSTEK DVD-560

£                                  £80

VERDICT                      3

STATUS                       

COMMENTS            great value, good spec but uninspiring performance

TYPE                            DVD

5.1 OUT                        Y

OUTPUT                       Dig, Dolby Digital

COMP'NT VID            Y

SCARTS                       1

ISSUE              107      

 

 

TECH SPEC

All region, PAL/NTSC replay, MP3 replay, Dolby Digital decoder, multi-speed replay, picture zoom, volume control, brightness and contrast adjustment, headphone output & level control

 

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

winbond w9922qf

 

 

HEAD

CYBERHOME CH-DVD 302, £99

 

STANDFIRST

It pays to keep your wits about you when buying a DVD player, especially if it’s the Cyberhome CH-DVD 302…

 

COPY

A firm smack on the wrist to Cyberhome and whoever designed the box for the CH-DVD 302. The list of features boldly proclaims ‘Built-in Dolby Digital and DTS’, unless you also read and mentally attach the next line, which says ‘Digital Output’, you could well be fooled into thinking it has on-board 5.1 decoders. It does not! The 302 is a bland looking and fairly modestly equipped budget machine with no special features to speak of just the usual fare, which includes MP3 replay, a picture zoom a 5-scene bookmark and easily switchable region code (see Detail). It has a decent set of picture search speeds but slomo is forward only. There’s more deception, albeit of a minor nature; the instruction manual clearly implies that the machine has bass, treble and a variable 3D sound output on DVD playback but it turns out that it only works on VCD and audio. The remote has glow in the dark transport buttons but it doesn’t really make up for the fact that most of the buttons are small, poorly laid out and hard to identify.

 

Surprisingly, after such an inauspicious start, picture performance is not too bad at all and it plays both DVD-R and DVD+RW recordings without any argument. On pre-recorded DVDs contrast balance is satisfactory, revealing a fair amount of texture and detail in darker scenes and shadows moreover it has no difficulty with lighter colours and subtle shades. The analogue stereo output is very clean, hardly a trace of background noise, leaving plenty of room for Dolby Surround effects. Audio CD performance is typical of current budget hi-fi – there are a few rough edges -- but it’s fine for everyday use and MP3 replay is good for providing music in bulk at parties and other undemanding situations.

 

A largely unremarkable player, AV performance and the hackable region lock just about make up for the sneaky wording on the box and in the instructions.

 

DETAIL

The DVD-302 has an easily hackable region lock, just open the disc tray and on the handset press Stop 1999. A service menu appears, using the cursor buttons select ‘Region Code’ then choose an alternative region (1 to 6) or All for region free playback. Close the drawer to store the change.

 

Contact: Endre Lock 01243-530009, www.cyberhome-europe.de/

 

VERDICT

 

What's good?

Fair AV performance and an easily hackable region lock

What's bad?

Fiddly remote, deceptive packaging, watch out!


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

 

KEY FEATURES

MP3 replay

DVD-R/+RW replay

Hackable region lock

5-scene bookmark

 

 

DVD BUYERS GUIDE XTRA INFO

 

CYBERHOME CH-DVD 302

£                                  £99

VERDICT                      4

STATUS                       

COMMENTS            A rather ordinary budget player, average AV performance

TYPE                            DVD

5.1 OUT                        Y

OUTPUT                       Dig

COMP'NT VID            N

SCARTS                       1

ISSUE              107      

 

TECH SPEC

All region playback, PAL/NTSC re play, MP3 replay, multi-speed replay, picture zoom, 5-scene bookmark

 

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

crystal cs98010cmep

 

 

---end---

 

Ó R. Maybury 2002, 0207

 

 

 

 

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