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New DVD Player

August 7th, 2007

I had two DVD players, until recently. One was a Region-1 unit I bought in the U.S. maybe six or seven years back, and the other was a region-free unit I bought at Costco four years ago. Both units had been acting flaky, but after the move, neither one would recognize anything I put into them. So, time to get another player. After advising a friend to look for region-free players in Akihabara, and they reported success, I decided to try it myself.

I was also looking for a feature I’d heard about but not seen: a DivX-playing DVD player. DivX is a “codec,” or a method of compressing audio/video data to save space. What it means is that you can download audio and video files from the Internet, and the DVD player will recognize them and play them, just like your computer does.

I found the kind of machine I was looking for, and settled on the Pioneer DV-400VS.

0807-Divx Dvdplayer-500

Even better, the player I got has a USB port, so it will recognize files on USB Flash drives, or potentially on USB external hard disk drives. Since I got a 1 GB flash stick just last week, I can now use it to show up to 2.5 hours of video on the player, if I transfer it from my computer–without burning a DVD disk. Cool.

0807-Divx Dvdplayer2-450

The player can handle DVDs made for any country (they were pretty outspoken about it at the electronics store, after Costco made a deal about how “it’s not legal”), and can handle just about any type of CD (Audio CD, CD-R/RW, VCD) or DVD (DVD±R/RW, Video DVD, Audio DVD)–audio, video, or data–so long as it’s got some sort of visual or audio media on it. JPEG photos will play as slideshows, audio CDs or mp3/wma/aac files play as music, and lots of data-stored video files (mpg/avi/wmv) will play just fine (but not all, of course).

Better yet, it has an HDMI port and progressive/1080p compatibility (upscaling), so it will work fine with the HDTV I plan on getting in not too long a time.

In short, it’ll handle pretty much everything I’ll need to throw at it… until it too breaks down in four or five years. Inevitably.

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  1. LM
    August 8th, 2007 at 01:14 | #1

    I got the same recently, the black one.. I bought mostly because it has the USB port!

    I dont like the fact that it takes aproximatly 5 seconds to boot without any sort of visual feedback. Other than that it’s a very good divx player.

    Have to wait for a Region free hack of some sort though… 😉

  2. August 8th, 2007 at 01:19 | #2

    Have you tried a DivX yet? How’d it look? Have one that is supposed to do the same, but they always come out very odd looking for some reason.

  3. Luis
    August 8th, 2007 at 09:03 | #3

    LM: yours is not region-free? Strange… this one came that way. Actually, all the stores claimed the sets are “Region 3,” which they claimed means “region free,” though it’s supposed to mean Southeast Asia.

    When I put in a USB flash disk and switch to USB via controls, it boots and gives me a directory. However, the USB HDD I have doesn’t seem to register–either that or it takes a long, long time and I just didn’t wait long enough. Have you tried a HDD yet? Did it work?

    Sean: as advertised, some files work, some don’t. They work best on a 480/525i TV set if they are standard-sized, 512 x 384 at 29.97 fps. I got one video clip which was 640 x 272, at 25 fps–must have been more like a PAL encoding at that frames per second; the Pioneer handled it OK–by switching to PAL, and thus the TV couldn’t handle it. I don’t know what would happen if I had an HDTV–if all files would play well, or only the hi-res ones…

    I have not tried a range of resolutions, but I did try one file that had an hour’s (43 min) video at 700 MB rather than 350, one of the higher-res files, and it didn’t work–sound played, but not video–a message came up saying the resolution wasn’t supported.

    One bonus, though–it plays subtitle files (srt or sub files) with a video so long as they are in the same directory and have the same file name, different extension. They just automatically play–even if the video doesn’t!

  4. LM
    August 8th, 2007 at 09:56 | #4

    This one is a Region 2 (I live in Portugal), I tried a Region 1 movie and it didn’t play, so it’s locked…

    You must have bought one of the unlocked that come from Taiwan or Hong-Kong, that must be why it’s a Region 3!

  5. Luis
    August 8th, 2007 at 10:19 | #5

    Ah, that makes sense! I was wondering why region 3 was supposed to equal region free–it made no sense to me then, but your explanation sets it all straight! Cool.

  6. Paul
    August 8th, 2007 at 15:56 | #6

    Cool player. I’m in a bit of a spot trying to decide when to take the plunge and get some form of HD disc player; the format war doesn’t look settled out anytime soon.

    I thought it’d be HD-DVD instead of Blu-Ray when the porn studios all pretty much said they’re going to HD-DVD (back during the VHS vs Betamax days, when the porn folks went VHS, that was the end of it) but it’s not really finished yet.

    Perhaps the best of both worlds- a Sony Playstation 3, which has Blu-Ray built in (and has a very hot game console built in for only a little more than the price of a Blu-ray player) AND an HD-DVD unit (perhaps an XBox 360 with a player?)…

    Anyway, nice DVD player. One thing I’ve wondered about, although it sounds like you don’t have an HD tv… does the upscaling really do anything for the quality of viewing normal DVDs?

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