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please help me find a new single disc player for ~ $500

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please help me find a new single disc player for ~ $500

Old 01-30-05, 04:10 PM
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please help me find a new single disc player for ~ $500

hi! I have a Sony DVP-CX985V Progress scan DVD changer (400 disc) hooked up to my Mits 55315 55inch HDTV. I am planning to sell the Sony changer and buy a single disc player. I am looking for the following traits, and would appreciate any reccomendations:
1. Picture quality - I want something better than the Sony (my tv has DVI and component inputs)
2. SACD and DVD-A - both would be nice, but DVD PQ is the most important thing
3. ~$ 500

thanks in advance for any suggestions!
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Old 02-01-05, 10:52 AM
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I am currently considering the LG LST-3510A from circuit City. $350 after rebate. Upconverts DVD to 720p or 1080i, has DVI output, plus it is a set-top HD tuner for either cable or OTA signals. I just found out about it yesterday, but have been reading motly good things about it.
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Old 02-01-05, 01:03 PM
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I have 2 of the Samsung HD841 DVD players. It upconverts to 720p, 768p, or 1080i through a DVI connection, but also has component output as well. It'll also do SACD and DVD-Audio. On sale at bestbuy.com for $179.99, but it is currently sold out. The stores sell them at $199. The player I have connected to my DLP is a little too dark through the DVI connection, but the PQ is still great through the component out. The player connected to my Sony CRT via the DVI cable has excellent PQ. You can immediately tell the difference if I A-B test it with my Sony 5-disc player connected via component.

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Old 02-01-05, 01:18 PM
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thanks for the suggestions! The Sammy certainly has all the features I'm looking for, but the Secrets Shootout gave it a fairly poor reveiw for image quality, which is my number one priority. At this point, I am planning on auditioning the Denon 2910, which is a bit more than I wanted to spend (700), but seems to be an excellent player. I'll report back after I check out the Denon. If anyone has another similarly featured and priced player I should A/B with the Denon, please let me know! thanks!
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Old 02-01-05, 04:30 PM
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I'd like to share my experiences over the past couple weeks because I think it might influence some people's decision.

I bought a Sony HS51 projector which has both component and HDMI inputs. I noticed some artifacts when playing DVDs which I had not noticed on my old 27" Sony CRT. I was faced with three options:

1. Keep my DVD player and get a Blu-Ray DVD player when it's available.
2. Find a cheap $300 progressive scan player and get a Blu-Ray DVD player when it's available.
3. Find a cheap upscaling DVD player and get a Blu-Ray DVD player when it's available.

Why I didn't choose option #1.
The artifacts and edge enhancement on some DVD were unbearable for me. Perhaps other people would not have noticed and been awed by the size of my screen, but in the end, the artifacts distracted me.

Why I didn't choose option #2.
I set out looking for a good progressive scan DVD player only to find they are not available. Yeah, that's right, not available. I tried to find a good progressive scan player such as the Denon DVD-1600 or the Panasonic DCD-XP30 but simply can't. Why not? Because the manufacturers simply donít make them anymore. Those models have been retired. Check out Home Theater High Fidelity's DVD reviews. They use objective data to compare many DVD player. Here you will find good "regular" progressive scan players that are cheap, but hard to find as they are no longer being made. The money now lies with upscaling or upconverting DVD players. Which brings us to option #3:

Why I ended up with option #3.
Because the DVD players in option #2 are retired from the production line. Now, the mission becomes, where can I find a good upscaling DVD player? My answer is: Either a Denon (model DVD-2910 and above) or the Panasonic S97.

I initially tried the Samsung DVD-HD841 (DVI-to-HDMI inputs) and noticed that shadow detail was eliminated. Instead of seeing folds in a personís clothing, I saw a big mass of black. There is a night scene in The Fellowship of the Ring of an invisible Bilbo walking up his steps into his home just after his disappearance at his birthday party. With HDMI, I was not able to see the grass growing between the stone steps. With the component inputs, I was able to see the detail but it begged the question, ďWhy buy an upconverting DVD player if I canít upconvert?Ē Remember, you can only upconvert over the HDMI inputs, not components. Also recall, you canít buy a nice progressive scan player because they donít make them anymore.

After reading more reviews at the site provided above, I found out that many (most... or even pretty much all of them) DVD manufacturers are screwing up the black levels over HDMI, effectively making upconversion unusable and effectively making their awesome new upconverting DVD player no better than a regular old progressive scan player.

I did find 2 DVD players that has correct black levels: The Denon DVD-2910 and higher models and the Panasonic S97.

So your choices are as follows:
1. Buy a DVD player that upconverts but do not use this feature. Instead use components inputs and use the DVD player as a progressive scan player. The Samsung DVD-HD841 works fine for this at $170. But if this is your choice, will the Samsung be that much better than your current player? If not, why bother getting a new DVD player?

2. Buy an upconverting DVD player that correctly passes HDMI black information. In which case I believe your options are the Denon or Panasonic S97. I went with the Denon because I had a local dealer that would accept returns if I was unsatisfied with the quality (ie, black crush, macroblocking, etc). I would have preferred the Panasonic as the Denon is more than twice expensive, but I did not have a local dealer with it in-stock.

Please note that I am not sure how DVI performs. My projector has HDMI, not DVI inputs, so I am unable to assess DVI-to-DVI inputs.
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Old 02-01-05, 06:57 PM
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bwvanh114, thank you for your comments - very helpful! I am leaning towards the Denon even more after reading your review. I am selling my changer and going to single disc for quality reasons, as well as the fact that I watch mostly netflix rentals now, so the changer doesnt get a lot of use. The Denon is appealing not only for its PQ, but also for SACD and DVD-A, which I hear it does quite well. If you don't mind my asking, how much did your dealer charge for the 2910? I think I can get ~300 or so on ebay for my changer, so the price isn't really an issue. thanks again for the info!
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Old 02-01-05, 07:57 PM
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I tried the Samsung - picture quality was pretty good, but the DTS decoder dropped audio every 2-4 seconds.

I tried an LG - horrible maacroblocking and video freezing every minute or so.

I'm just gonna keep my Onkyo 6 disc carousel until HD dvds come out.
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Old 02-01-05, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by BobDole42
bwvanh114, thank you for your comments - very helpful! I am leaning towards the Denon even more after reading your review. (snip) If you don't mind my asking, how much did your dealer charge for the 2910?
I am liking the 2910 very much and am much relieved my new projector doesn't look like crap anymore. It passes my test which is:

1. Can it upconvert and not screw up the black levels? Answer: Yes.
2. Is there macroblocking? Answer: No.
3. Are there any other imperfections or goofiness when watching DVDs? Answer: No. However, when navigating DVD menus, there is a split second jaggedness (is that a word?) around the words when you press the enter/select button. For example: The menu looks great, you move down from "play movie" to "select scene" to "audio setup." Then you press the "enter/select" button on your remote. Right when you push the button until the scene changes to the audio setup screen, the words have jagged edges. This does not effect playback quality and is only visible when selecting options in the menus.

As I mentioned, I would have liked to try to Panasonic S97 since it's cheaper but alas, there are no local dealers.

Anyway, Denon's webpage has a warning about not honoring the warranty if one buys from non-authorized dealers. In addition, the warranty card states that Denon will ask for a copy of the original receipt so they can see if the DVD player came from an authorized dealer. Because of this, I decided to buy from an authorized dealer (A chain called Tweeter) despite finding cheaper prices on the web.

I first looked at Denon's list of authorized dealers. I then looked at the prices from their online dealers and asked Tweeter to pricematch. I told the Tweeter saleman that I can find it for $649.00 from an authorized dealer and they approved pricematching.

Below is a list of Denon's authorized online dealers. I believe the cheapest were ListenUp and Crutchfield. Both dealers offer black and silver finish along with free shipping.

Abt Electronics.com

Denon also lists authorized dealers who sell B-stock or refurbished products if you are so inclined. But please check Reseller Ratings.com as at least one of these has horrible reviews.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-02-05, 05:25 AM
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BobDole42 I thought I would point out that your Mits is capable of displaying 480p natively unlike most HDTVs and projectors. What this means is that unless you're looking to reduce visible scan lines you might consider simply finding a player that has very good progressive output and not upconvert the signal at all.

Most HDTV owners have a brand of TV that will accept a 480p signal but upconvert to 540p, 720p, 1080i or in the case of fixed pixel displays whatever the native resolution of the HDTV is. When the TV or projector upconverts the 480p signal is when artifacts can occur. So these people are the ones who understandably are usually looking for a player that upconverts better than their HDTV does. But in your case the TV displays 480p without any conversion so if you can find a player with good deinterlacing and a fairly flat frequency response you might be better off PQ wise with 480p output. However if your mind is made up to reduce visible scan lines you'll need to sacrifice PQ in other areas since most times the upconverting players fail in a number of areas that effect PQ more than scan lines such as color fidelity, frequency response, digital artifacts from conversion etc.
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Old 02-02-05, 08:14 AM
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649 for the Denon sounds great - I'll check out the Tweeter in my area. I've definately thought about going with a player that does 480p well and forgoing upconverting, but I haven't found a lower priced player that seems like a good fit
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Old 02-02-05, 11:14 AM
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I was in the same boat- ended up getting the Denon 2910. It has some great points but some weaknesses as well. The picture is somewhat grainy even with firmware 7 (just came out). Macroblocking is still an issue with many displays.

Not to say it doesn't have some strengths as well. The color control through DVI is great, the speed is fantastic, it supports just about every feature of any CD or DVD. I've had a hard time deciding but I put back my older DVD player and am putting the money towards other upgrades on my system until Blue Ray/HD DVD wins out or universal players that can handle both are common.
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