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KENWOOD DVF-9010 DVD PLAYER, 1000, ****

VERDICT

 

Whys it here: You might think the last thing the young, tender and still fragile DVD format needs is a 1000 player but think back to the early days of CD. It was so-called early adopters, teccies and hi-fi buffs that saw the format through its rocky beginnings. This time around DVD manufacturers have gone straight for the mid-market, and budget-priced equipment will inevitably follow, but there is a distinct lack of serious top-end kit, an omission Kenwood is keen to put to rights with the DVF-9010.

 

Any unique features: Motorised front panels are not exactly unknown on CD players but this is a first for DVD. We can't say that it has any particular ergonomic benefits, and it's something else to go wrong, but there is an undeniable cool factor as it smoothly drops down and the disc tray slides out. Talking of which, the deck mechanism is a Panasonic item, almost everything else is pure Kenwood, including the advanced and highly stable power supply circuitry. It has a full compliment of audio facilities and decoders, starting with Dolby Digital and MPEG 5.1 sound systems. It also features Kenwood's own 24-bit signal processing system and an on-screen display, somewhat grandly described as an interactive graphical user interface or GUI. On the back panel the line-level outputs for the Dolby Digital and MPEG decoders share a set of six gold-plated phonos, and there are two more for the mixed-audio stereo output. It has two composite video and two S-Video outputs -- gold plated of course -- plus coaxial and optical digital outputs but strangely no SCART sockets, though this is unlikely to trouble most owners. Everything is controlled from a compact silver-coloured remote handset with a natty multi-function 'joystick' control.

 

How does it perform: Some idea of where that 1000 has gone is up there on the screen in front of you, with one of the crispest, sharpest pictures we've seen on a DVD player. It really is worth going to the extra trouble of using an S-Video link on this machine for a picture that stands comparison with a good off-air broadcast. Colours are clean and sharply defined, with a rare subtlety that tape and to some extent even laserdisc has trouble capturing; if there were any motion artefacts we never saw them.

 

It sounds as good as it looks. The Dolby Digital soundtracks on some movies have an almost clinical quality; the sound of rain in Jumanji is so crisp you can almost hear and pinpoint individual raindrops. Surprisingly MPEG audio was a little more variable, it lacked the absolute clarity of the Dolby soundtracks and some background hiss is evident during quiet moments.

 

Operationally it's reasonably easy to live with, though until you get used to it the on-screen display or GUI status bar at the top of the screen can be a bit of a swine to decipher.

 

Our Verdict: AV performance is very impressive, certainly one of, if not the best DVD to date. It's well built, sharply styled and it lacks for almost nothing in the feature department, nevertheless we can't help thinking the 1000 price tag is a bit stiff, even for a machine with an ever-so-cool motorised front panel...     

 

Kenwood , telephone (01923) 816444

 

UP CLOSE

 

Features                     Built-in Dolby Digital and MPEG 2 decoders, graphical user interface, bookmark memory, 8-level parental control, moving panel design, virtual surround

Sockets                       Rear: AC-3/MPEG Audio, stereo line out, composite video out & coaxial digital out (phono), 2 x S- Video out (mini DIN), optical digital out (optical jack). Front: headphone (jack)              

Dimensions                 440 x 128 x 384mm

 

Picture Quality            *****

Sound Quality            *****

Build Quality              ****

Features                     ****

Ease of use                 ****

 

Rival Buys Denon DVD-300 700, Panasonic DVD-A350 700, Pioneer DVL-909 900,

 

CRITICAL CAPTIONS

 

        The central front panel tilts forward and the loading tray emerges from below the display -- definitely one that will impress the neighbours

 

        Front-panel controls are limited to the bare necessities, the fluorescent display is quite informative, though, and easy to read across a living room. It can also be switched off of required

 

        No SCARTs but a full line up of gold-plated line-level output sockets for the AC-3/MPEG decoders, there's two composite and two S-Video video outputs plus coaxial and optical digital outputs as well

 

        Proving that remote controls don't have to be button-infested bricks, this one is small, easy to use and the little multi-function joystick at the top has been very well thought out

 

---end---

R. Maybury 1998, 2509

 

 

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