SONY DVP-NS430, £120 (typical web price)
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
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
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.
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.
All recordable format replay
Multi-brand TV remote
Sony 0870 511 1999, www.sony.co.uk
EASE OF USE 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
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.
Ó R. Maybury 2003,