Call it a bargain, budget, low-end, entry level- sub £200. Let me tell you, DVD players are opening doors of home cinema to an ever-increasing audience. A friend of mine let me borrow this Aiwa XD-DV480 and I can say it nudges into all of the above categories and begs a mention in the all-important ?value for money? listings too. I think the price tag inevitably means a few restrictions that the big boys treat with contempt, but this Aiwa?s simplicity factor is ideally suited to the market. The basic design is far from spectacular, but all the necessary features and manual controls are neatly displayed. The technical stuff is encased in standard silver casing and there?s no over-the-top attempts to disguise the unit?s budget status with misplaced showing off. Round the back, there are suitable connections including a SCART socket with RGB output and S-Video. Both optical and coaxial connections are not always found on the kind of player that lines supermarket shelves, but the XD-DV480 is a long way from any frozen food counter. As an established hi-fi manufacturer, I would say Aiwa carries the same showroom quality into the DVD market, and I?m always pleased to see big companies with low prices. From my experience a name is not usually a guarantee of quality, but you can usually rely on long-term technical support and replacement products, an assurance that shopping trolley players cannot always give. Still, it?s when you hit the play button that all this bargain jousting really matters, and I would say the XD-DV480 proves it can compete on screen as well. With its strong audio background, it?s no real surprise to me that Aiwa can pump out quality sound from its DVD player. The 5.1 output played clearly through my speaker setup with hardly any distortion, the dialogue in particular held up impressively well. Even in stereo, the theme song guy showpiece at the start of The Emperor?s New Groove still had that hip
-swaying quality that I do enjoy. Sadly, the 3D-surround effect didn?t really seem to have that much effect, though. The sound did carry a little wider, but lost some of the sharpness of the original stereo setting. Without as much experience in the DVD world, Aiwa doesn?t quite offer the same quality of visual performance. I found nothing significantly wrong with the picture, the images remained smooth, received little pestering from the fuzziness demon and had well blended colours. However I judge these things comparatively and the my fussy eye soon picked up when the big scenes from the over-watched Gladiator failed to hit the same degree of sharpness or distinction of colour that I have enjoyed in the past with my players. The remote fits well with the DVD despite its contrasting black design. It?s light weight and the sunken centre with the multi-directional controls makes navigating the basic menu options an easy and comfortable experience. It?s well laid out, simply to use, the other controls are well spaced out and the shortcut buttons include slow-mo. The only awkward thumb stretch is for the Play button, but hey, you only need to press it once. The lack of decent control features is a little disappointing and the menu system too simplistic. The picture and audio selections are limited to the bare essentials and each fine-tuning option has only a few minor adjustments. Still let?s not forget that for people who only want to spend a couple of hundred pounds on a DVD player, the bewildering array of complex menus you?d find on a top-end model would be a little importance. So if you want a good quality, no fuss DVD player then the XD-DV480 will do the job very well. I think it offers a better performance than the majority of Tesco?s budget buys can provide for only a few pounds extra.
When I started to have some problems with my previously reliable Ariston 2000 DVD player, I returned to the same retailer and asked them to recommend a player which was a little bit more "Future Proof" and within my budget of £200.00. Almost without hesitation the salesman recommended the DV480 to me. At first glance, I thought that the player looked a little odd (maybe because it was gold/silver and my previous player had been black), so I suggested maybe a Pioneer player would be better for me. However, he was quite convinced about the qualities of the AIWA player, so, being a self-confessed novice when it comes to HI-FI's etc. I took his advice. Good man!! The player is excellent. Notorious discs such as Gladiator, Hannibal and the Fifth Element all had problems with my previous hardware, but here they play beautifully. Even though I have the player only connected to the TV via a SCART lead (i.e. I have no expensive hardware or AMP), the quality of playback is universally excellent, particularly when compared to the previous player, which was used with the same TV. The remote control is large and packed full of buttons, so there is no need to use the controls on the player. Also, the drive is extremely quite in terms of disc access. Standard requirements and features, I know, but that was not the case with the previous player I had believe me! I am not sure how suited this player is for the more advanced DVD enthusiast, because there is not an array of ports and connectors on the back panel. For me though, this was ideal. "Plug and Play" was definitely the order of the day here and I was delighted. Overall, this is a quiet, compatible and stylish unit which offers great playback. It is also Multi-region capable, but this has to be done via hardware rather than by using the remote. Don't be put off by this though, as most retailers will offer this service for you as mine did. Region 1 and 2 d
iscs now play perfectly on the single unit :)
I've had this DVD player for about a month now and have tried many different formats of disc's, they are: -DVD- this player plays these very well, the picture and sound quality is excellent. DVD's usually have 5.1ch sound(Dolby Digital And/Or DTS) which is used for home theatre systems. -VCD(Video CD) (version 1.1)- these were made before DVD, they are written on a normal CD and are operated in the same way as CD's (they can be written at home using a CD-RW drive and a normal CD-R disc), they are not as high resolution as DVD and only have stereo sound. -VCD(Video CD) (version 2.0)- these are the same as VCD (version 1.1) but are equipped with PBC (playback Control) which means they can contain Menus, Search Functions, or other computer-like operations. -Audio CD- this player will play ordinary audio CD's just like any other CD player would. -MP3 CD- (these cd's will only play in a CD/DVD player that has MP3 CD playback) this is a very good feature on a DVD player and is one of the main reasons i bought it. It allows you to download music tracks from the internet or copy tracks from your own cd's and put them onto a CD-R/CD-RW in MP3 format using a CD-RW drive. the reason for doing this is because a CD can hold a lot more MP3 tracks than standard audio tracks(in fact about ten times more) a normal CD can hold around 20 audio tracks where as a MP3 CD can hold around 200 tracks that can be organized into folders that you view through your tv screen, also all tracks are named so you don?t need a list of the tracks written in the CD Case. (MP3 tracks are not quite as good quality as a normal cd track but you can hardly hear any difference between them) This player also has all the connections that are needed by many people, -for the audio output it has two digital connectors (Optical and Coaxial) which are used
for connecting to an AV Receiver equipped with Dolby Digital and/or DTS decoders, and there is an ordinary audio out(analogue) for connecting to a TV or Hi-fi system. -for the video output it has a composite connector and a S-Video connector which gives slightly better picture quality -for both audio and video in one it has a 21 pin scart connector Setting up the unit is quite easy, but if you do find something a bit confusing the manual explains everything quite clearly. Overall the DVD player is very good, The picture and sound quality is excellent, it has all the normal features such as Multi-Angle and Multi-Language and it also has some extra features that are quite useful like MP3 CD playback, CD-R/CD-RW playback, up to 100x search speed, and 4x and 16x Zoom.