Supermarket chain Aldi, best-known for a wide range of budget buys ranging from ale to yoghurt, is selling a Blu-ray player, the Tevion DVD1100UKT.
And not only is it the first supermarket player, it's also hackable to be multiregion! So should we be getting excited?
On paper at least, the £140 DVD1100UKT has an enticing spec. It supports hi-def audio via HDMI, is equipped with USB for multimedia playback and will deliver 1080p24 video to a compatible display.
Build quality is lightweight and the styling nondescript. Beneath the lid is a SATA-interfaced BD drive, and a main circuit board that contains both the delicate digital and AV electronics, and the power supply.
This is hardly ideal; the positioning of electrolytic capacitors near heatsinks also smacks of poor design. But would this affect performance?
My test disc of choice was Transformers. After what seemed like an eternity – this is not the fastest-loading player in the world – I had pictures, but no sound. An Onkyo TX-NR906 AVR, which sells for the same money as ten Tevions, yielded a 'no signal' display on its front panel.
You should instead be told what audio format you're listening to. Going through the player's various output options made absolutely no difference. My Sony Bravia LCD TV yielded two-channel PCM sound when connected directly to the player, and so there presumably wasn't a fault with the hardware.
I then tried Sony's DA-5400ES AVR. Success at last! If I immediately disconnected the Sony and plugged the HDMI cable back into the Onkyo, sound was obtained; clearly, there's some kind of HDMI handshaking issue – and one that needs urgent attention via a firmware update.
In performance terms, picture and sound are difficult to fault. If you're using HDMI, that is. Component pics have minor hue/phase errors that are particularly noticeable with flesh tones. Transformers is characterised by a stupendous range of contrast, beautifully-rich colour rendition, solid blacks and impeccably-crisp detail.
The only real criticism I could make was that a certain degree of judder could be seen with, for example, horizontal pans.
POWER DOWN: Unusually, the off switch on the Tevion actually turns it off at the mains, rather than switching to standby
Audio over HDMI proved well within the DVD1100UKT's capabilities, too – no dropouts, no lip-sync errors. And BD-Live? Yes, although the manual makes no reference to the fact that a USB memory device needs to be plugged in for it to function.
However, what is most appealing about this player is that it can be hacked to switch BD and DVD regions with a few simple key presses – here's how you do it: make sure there is no disc loaded and enter 973501 on your remote. The '0' switches to DVD region '0' (all regions). The '1' tells the Tevion to switch to Region A.
To go back to watching Region B Blu-rays, enter 973502. Easy huh? This unexpected bonus might make the Tevion worth £140 after all.
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