Advantages Incredible picture quality when compared to my old non-upscaling player with a scart lead
Disadvantages Sometimes disc drive can be really noisy when DVD's initially load.
|Ease of Use|
|Ease of Installation|
|Range of Features|
At first I wasn't convinced by up-scaling DVD player technology but was persuaded after reading an article in "What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision" magazine. Unable to afford a Blu-Ray player my sister and I bought the Panasonic DVD-S54 to match our parents brand new Panasonic TX-32LZD80 LCD television as their Christmas 2008 present. Admittedly it was a slightly selfish purchase as we both live at home and wanted to watch DVDs on the big new TV ourselves! We bought the player from the electrical retailer Comet for about £100 just before Christmas so there were no discounts applied.On Christmas day when opened we found a relatively small box tightly packed with the player in polystyrene packaging. All the components such as cables, remote and manuals were well presented in their own protective plastic bags, to keep them protected. The player and all accessories were in pristine condition, a testament to the quality packaging.
The user manuals were easy to understand in quick set-up mode, so for a novice user there will be no issues. This player however does have a lot of functions which can seem daunting at the time so if you do not understand the difference between your 1080p and your 576i standard definition then you may need to read up on the jargon to understand what you are looking at. For many it may be a lot easier to just leave it at the initial out the box settings until you can find someone to help you out.To look at the player is sleek. With a small footprint and a slim height it does not take up nearly as much space in any dimension as older DVD players. The metal body feels sturdy and will almost certainly last for an eternity. The DVD drive tray is quite thin so could appear a little flimsy at first, but this seems more to be because there is some give in the tray than because it is badly made. Overall I would say this is a well built player. The supplied remote is solid and well designed with a well laid out set of buttons, I can also confirm it has already been dropped onto the wooden floor a few times with no ill effects.
Initially we had this player set up with an old, cheap scart socket from the VHS player as it turned out an HDMI cable was not included. I must say I was extremely disappointed as I couldn't see any difference between the picture quality and my four year old Alba DVD player I had paid £19.99 for! However after waiting a few days for a "Linx Premium 24K Gold Plated HDMI Cable" to arrive in the post from Amazon.co.uk, I couldn't believe my eyes.Initially the player is set up in standard definition mode so you have to manually set up the machine to up-scale video and then output it as 1080p to your hi-def television. Once correctly set up to optimum up-scaling settings anyone watching the screen will instantly see a difference in quality.
Skin tones appear less smudged and although the frame rate is the same in the up-scaled version as the standard DVD the image appears smoother in action scenes in movies such as the Bourne Identity. Up close the image is visibly less pixelated that the old Alba player.Most noticeable of the increase in image quality was the lack of interference. I suspect this was originally caused as much by the poor quality scart cable, so having a pure digital HDMI signal makes as big difference to the picture quality as the actual up-scaling chip in my humble opinion.
The only real issue I have had with this player up to date is that sometimes the noise of the player loading up and the disc spinning can be noticeable above the volume of the television. This appears to only be an issue when the disc is initially loading and once the film begins it subsides, so although annoying it does not distract you from what you want to watch.I would recommend this to anyone provided they use it with an HDMI cable. The quality of picture surprised and impressed me. As a cheap alternative to full blown hi-definition television I would definitely put this on the purchase list as a stop gap until Blu-Ray players have a more palatable price.
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