What can one say about the design of Philips DVD decks that hasn't already been said? They are simply gorgeous and this new budget model,the DVP5100,is no exception.The DVD slot,the understated display and the slim metallic lines make it a joy to behold.
Connectivity brings its own share of joy as well.There are component video outputs for progressive scan, as well as RGB Scart back-up. For audio you get electrical digital and stereo analogue outputs.However, there are no digital video outputs or an optical digital audio cable,but we can live with that at this price.
The DVP5100 is a versatile deck. It can play DVD-R/-RW/ R/ RW discs, along with video CD and SVCD platters.JPEG,WMA,MP3 and Kodak Picture files are all accepted.More interesting is the provision of DiVX compatibility, including a registration code for DiVX video-on-demand files.
Legitimate outlets may still be limited,but the VOD feature does open up non-pirated software that you can pay for and watch a limited number of times simply by registering your deck with the DiVX company,which is extremely easy to do (go to www.divx.com/vod).
When you have MP3 and JPEG files on the same CD you can view images and listen to music at the same time.CD audio,meanwhile, can be 'upsampled' to improve sound quality. Digital signal processing can increase the sampling rate twofold or fourfold (to 88.2kHz or 176.4kHz from the standard 44.1kHz).
Night Mode is a form of dynamic range compression that helps retain audibility at low volume levels,while limiting the impact of noisy scenes like explosions and sudden crashes.
Finally on the audio front,a sound mode function offers 3D, movie and music settings,with various sub-settings for each.
The video image can be set to standard,bright,soft or personal, which opens up individual settings for brightness,contrast,tint and colour.
A Preview function presents moving thumbnails of six chapters on a DVD at a time.This might be handy when you know what scene you're looking for,but don't know what the chapter is called.
Ease of use is also a plus point on this deck.The remote control is rather minimalist,but that keeps things straightforward,and it doesn't suffer from the time-lag effect of some Philips remotes we've seen.
This more than respectable array of features translates into a very enjoyable experience when the DVP5100 is pressed into service.
On standard DVD material the image produced is extremely detailed and free from artefacts. It doesn't quite have the depth that the best picture providers manage,but it is still impressive. Complicated scenes are confidently resolved and murky areas such as shadows or fog are well handled, with minimal smearing.
On DiVX material the picture is only slightly less impressive.The format is inevitably inferior to DVD, due to the level of compression,but if you haven't seen it before you will be surprised at how good it can be.
It is far superior to VHS and video CD and this Philips deck does an excellent job at displaying it, delivering a crisp and detailed image with almost no colour bleed and a surprising absence of artefacts.
Audio performance is robust as well,surprisingly so for a budget deck. Movie soundtracks are dealt with very capably,although this is one area where you are really dependent on the other kit in your system.CD upsampling is worth a dabble, although this is not a deck intended for serious audiophile use.
In summary, this is a very attractive and highly capable budget model. Philips has crammed in a lot of features and the level of quality is undeniable. Unless you are hell-bent on spending no more than £30 for your DVD player this deck should definitely be on your audition.