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REVIEW

 

SONY DVP-NS430, £120 (typical web price)

 

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DVD has not, as yet, attracted much attention from the environmental lobby but given the format’s proliferation it is probably only a matter of time before mountains of obsolete players blight the landscape. Sony clearly hopes it won’t be found wanting in this regard and is keen to promote its green credentials on the new DVP-NS430 player.

 

For the record this machine consumes a meagre 0.13 watts in standby mode. There’s extensive used of lead-free solder and limited use of halogenated flame retardants – great, now we’ve got something new to worry about…Then there’s what the box describes as ‘Cushion materials of paper content’, which we take to mean lots of recycled cardboard and paper in the packaging.

 

However, like most Sony products the NS430 should lead a long and useful life and therefore be less of a burden to Mother Earth than many other brands and from now on we’ll concentrate on the player’s home entertainment credentials.

 

Top billing goes to the latest version of Sony’s Precision Drive 2 deck mechanism, which, in addition to improved error correction can handle pretty well any flavour of recordable DVD or CD. It also has MP3 replay and comes with a multi-brand TV remote. Secondary and convenience features include Picture Navi that displays 9 sub screens showing thumbnails from the start of each chapter, picture search goes up to a remarkable 200x normal speed, it has disc resume, which remembers where you left off on the previous six discs and a disc lock that prevents playback of up to 40 specified DVDs.

 

There are five preset picture modes (standard, dynamic 1 & 2 and Cinema 1 & 2), which jiggle brightness and contrast levels and four sound settings (standard, dynamic, wide & night), which fiddle around with the equalisation of the analogue stereo output to no apparent advantage. The remote handset is not one of Sony’s best with too many small closely packed buttons though some allowance has to be made for the fact that it can also control the main functions on a dozen or more different makes of TV.

 

You won’t find a zoom function and don’t waste any time looking for a handset hack for this machine because in common with all Sony DVD players the only way you’ll get the NS430 to play Region 1 discs is to buy an all region version or pay to have it ‘chipped’.

 

It is an unusually compact design. The mirror panelled fascia is only 55mm high and the case is just 237mm deep, which makes it around two-thirds the size of most current players. Connections to the outside world are via a set of phono sockets carrying composite video, right and left mixed stereo and coaxial bitstream. There’s also an optical bitstream output and the single SCART socket can be configured on the player’s easy to use set up menu for an RGB or S-Video output.

 

Our sample had no trouble playing any of our home made DVDs or MP3 tracks on CD-R and RW discs moreover and as an added bonus it can play multi-session discs and recognises tracks stored in folders or ‘albums’. Video quality, using the RGB and S-Video connections is excellent; colours are silky smooth, subtle shades and skin tones are finely graduated and the picture is packed with fine detail.

 

A wider than average contrast range means dark and moody scenes in movies like Se7en and Moulin Rouge are given a useful lift and it is completely unfazed by explosions and sudden changes in brightness.  The picture is generally very crisp and free of artefacts and what’s more it managed to play a couple of our deliberately scruffy discs without any problems whatsoever.

 

To get the best out of the NS430 it really needs to be partnered with a top quality AV amp; Dolby Digital and dts movie soundtracks pass cleanly through the coaxial and optical digital audio outputs but even the analogue stereo output is a notch up on most comparably priced players, producing a lively soundstage with very low levels of background noise. Audio CD performance is on a par with most mid-range audio decks and MP3 replay of higher bitrate recordings is surprisingly good.

 

VERDICT

Combining Sony’s legendary flair for styling and features plus an above average AV performance the NS430 sets a new benchmark for the top-end of the entry-level player market.

 

 

KEY FEATURES

Multi-disc resume

All recordable format replay

Chapter Digest

3D sound

Multi-brand TV remote

Disc lock

 

Contact

Sony 0870 511 1999, www.sony.co.uk

 

FEATURES 4/5

 

PERFORMANCE 5/5

 

EASE OF USE 4/5

 

VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5

 

OVERALL 4/5

 

CAPTION

Unusually small and neat and the 430 looks great even when it is switched off, shame about the remote though; the button layout could be a lot better

 

COMPLETE YOUR SYSTEM

Panasonic TX36DT35, £1750, HE 110

The big picture plus a lot of useful gizmos at a realistic price

 

Yamaha RX-V630RDS, £460, HE 114

Meaty but refined 6.1 amp, compatible with the latest surround formats

 

 

BOXOUT – ECO-FRIENDLY DVD?

There’s growing concern about the environmental impact consumer electronic devices will have when they reach the end of their useful working lives. Although most of the materials they contain can be reclaimed and recycled, in practice a lot of products end up being incinerated. However, in order to reduce their flammability a lot of plastics contain flame retardant chemicals and until recently most of these additives were based upon organic compounds containing halogen and metal oxides. When they are burnt they release highly toxic vapours, which pose a real problem, not only for those involved in their eventual disposal but also for those caught in house fires, and the fire fighters called to deal with them.

 

Power consumption is another worry and a typical AV system left switched on overnight, in standby mode can account for up to 10% of the average household electricity bill, contributing indirectly to the unnecessary production of greenhouse gasses.

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2003, 1706

 

 

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