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Introduction Last year I upgraded the DVD players I have at home and replaced them with BluRay players, I watch a lot of films and have HD TV's at home so it made sense to be upto date with technology and be able to see films and watch TV series Box Sets in High Definition. The only problem with upgrading what I had was what to do with my DVD players as they were still in fine working order despite their age and not wanting to throw them away I decided that they should be put to use in my caravan. The subject of this review, the Alba DVD108 is one of two I have in my bedroom (I have 2 DVD players as this one is multi-regional and allows me watch films that aren't Region 2) and allows me to watch them in bed if I fancy an early night and want to get snuggled down. Alba DVD108 Not a top-end make but undeniably reliable I've had my DVD player for a number of years now and originally purchased it from amazon for less than £30.00. I originally had this in my bedroom at home as its size and no-frills appearance lends itself well in being a second (or third) player that is used simply for playing films on. It's silver in colour, weighs just under 4 kilograms and is relatively compact in size being slim in width and quite short in length. This was one of the early 'compact' DVD players that were released a few years ago and compared to the larger, higher priced models compact is a great description of it as it's nowhere near the size of other DVD players I have owned in the past. There is a simple LCD display, ejectable DVD drawer and a few buttons along the front fascia which allows you to control the player although it does come with a remote control anyway so I tend to not bother with the buttons and simply use the remote. It was multi-region out of the box so didn't need a code to unlock it and this was the major plus point in me buying this at the time as I have a number of Region 1 DVD's which my more-expensive Sony DVD player I had in my living room wouldn't play even though that one cost me over £150.00 when I originally bought it (and that one is still going strong too!) The remote control is quite plasticy I have to admit, the build quality isn't great and it does feel cheap. However it has been used hundreds of times and is still responsive and it does work so whilst Alba have skimped on the quality I can't fault its reliability. Connectivity is via a single Scart socket which requires a Scart lead and connecting the DVD player to a television is as easy as just plugging it in and once switched on the DVD player is simple to use with it offering the usual functions you would expect from any other player you might have owned in the past. In Use My player is a good four or five years old now and in that time has played hundreds of DVDs both at home and at my caravan and whilst the picture quality is as good as it has always been I have noticed that over time the player has become a little nosier in operation than it once was. This is to be expected though, technology doesn't last forever and for the money I paid for the player in the first place I have little complaints as to how its lasted. The slight noise doesn't interfere with me watching the films the DVD player plays however it does seem to make a whirling sound now which probably means that the player is on its way out so I do tend to only use this when I want to watch a DVD that isn't a Region 2 release. It's testament to Alba really that they produced a budget player which has withstood the test of time and has had plenty of use that five years later its still operational and even though it lacks the 'bells and whistles' of newer technology it plays the films I have and that's all I expected from it. It never sticks despite me never cleaning the laser heads and plays DVDs and CD's without any problems, I have had many years faithful service from the player and when it gets to the stage where it no longer plays my DVDs then I will be quite sad to get rid of it as it has served me well. For something that was cheap at the time of my purchase I have no complaints about this model and even though it looks nothing special its reliability cannot be questioned. It's small size means its well suited for a bedroom, it takes up little space on the unit I have it sat on and although the remote isn't great quality it still works and that's the most important thing. If you're looking for a DVD player that is multi-regional, plays everything it's presented with and is easy to operate then this is a fine choice although nowadays you will be looking at the second hand market to be able to find the DVD108 as it is now no longer made by Alba. Fortunately this model does appear quite regularly on Ebay, it must have been a popular purchase when it first came out as there are still quite a few of them around and they normally sell for anything from £10 to £20 which could be a great bargain for someone if they get lucky. I remember it being one of the budget priced DVD players that amazon promoted when they originally sold it and consider it one of the best £30.00's I've ever spent as I have never had any problems with mine. If you have ever read my film reviews before you will know that I do watch plenty of DVDs so it does get plenty of use and in the time that I have owned it it has never let me down so it's on that basis that I would recommend this model especially if you can find a cheap one second hand. Even though mine is now starting to show signs of its age I have no criticisms with it really other than the remote control which is on the cheap side and am awarding a perfect 5 star rating for the purpose of this review. Alba may be a budget brand but they produced a long lasting and reliable model in the DVD108, it might not be the best looking DVD player ever produced and many would be put off by its limitations these days however, if you're looking for a simple DVD player that plays DVDs without any problems then this should be one to consider if you can find it. Definitely recommended, thanks for reading my review. Please note that this review may also appear on ciao under my username
I've owned this DVD player since Christmas 2002 and its still going strong nearly 8 years later. You can't fault that kind of durability and longevity! I don't know how much it cost originally as it was a gift but unless the price was astronomically high this DVD player has been great value for money and has had a great deal of use. You can get one on ebay for pennies these days, and if you need a decent DVD player but are utterly broke you could do a lot worse. Its a very basic model, but has all the functions you need to enjoy your DVDs. There are very basic controls (play, stop, skip forward, skip back, eject) on the DVD player itself but for most of the functions you will need the remote. Unfortunately mine was chewed to pieces by the dog years ago (in fact so long ago, it was a different dog to the one I have now!) but I've got on fine using just the basic functions as I don't generally watch the special features on DVDs. If you're happy to just put the DVD in, press play and watch all in one go (you can pause for toilet breaks!) then you'll be fine even without the remote. The DVD player came with a power cable, which is plenty long enough to give you options on where to put it, and a scart lead. I think even these modern new-fangled HD TVs still have scart sockets so you should have no problems hooking it up. If I can cast my memory far enough back, I seem to recall that setting up and installing the 108 was pretty easy, I managed it fine and I wasn't very tech savvy at the time. Some people would argue that as this is my main DVD player I'm still not! The only problem I've ever had with this DVD player is that on occasion, it doesn't reognise a DVD the first time you put it in, and you have to eject and reload it, sometimes a few times. This is a rare occurence though and I've never had a DVD that failed to work completely. Oh, also, it seems to have a very low volume, so be careful when swapping back from the DVD player to your TV because you'll have cranked the volume so high you risk being deafened!
As I?m sure many of you now know, I bought my first house almost two years ago and whilst we slowly went about decorating each room, money was tight. Having bought a new 29inch wide-screen TV I was hoping I?d get a bit of money for my Birthday in November to put aside for a DVD player in the January sales. As it turned out I got even luckier and my Brother bought me one as a joint Birthday and Christmas present ? result or what!? Personally I wanted one as I knew that it was the way forward and I was missing out on all the DVD extras that didn?t appear on video. The one that he bought me was the Alba DVD 108 player, which on first impressions looked stylish in its silver surround, and was a good size - a good choice by my brother as the new TV was also silver. This was important to me as I like things to match as well as looking good on view. I was also happy with the make as I?ve always found Alba to be hardwearing and reliable ? a must for any electrical product. At under £70 this is very much at the lower end of the DVD player scale and can be purchased from most electrical retailers, including Argos. The player was very easy to set up although I warn you that you will need another scart lead to connect it to the TV. The diagram in the handbook is easy to follow and each socket is clearly marked. Using the player couldn?t be simpler and although the handbook is easy to use you probably won?t need it. Simply by opening the front draw, placing the DVD in place and shutting it will start the DVD automatically. The display screens are easy to follow and offer all the features required at the basic level. Of course this includes scene selection, angle choice, etc. The player can be used on both 16:9 and 4:3 screens. The front of the DVD player is very plain with few buttons so its much easier to use the remote control which is simple, but includes all the buttons you need to not have to get out of your chair. Although you can play CD?s and CD-R discs, there is no MP3 player function. Its also not multi-region which could mean that some foreign imports will not be compatible - so be careful if you see any cheap DVD?s on your travels. The player supports surround sound and has Dolby digital output. I?ve found that the sound is more benefited from a good TV or use of better speakers to support these functions. Overall I think that this player is ideal for anyone who simply wants to have a DVD player that you can play DVD?s on. It has few flashy features but for the price is great value for money and its slim-line look and silver finish will make it look impressive in your lounge. Its living proof that you don?t have to splash out on expensive equipment to enjoy the latest technology advances and the DVD has so much more to offer than video from better picture quality to advanced features. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a cheap, simple DVD player or someone that wants one that simply plays DVD?s. This would not suit a real film buff who looks for all the extra features to make the experience as fulfilling as possible.
I've never been one to hire videotapes. Perhaps it's my Scotch ancestry, but I always figured that films would come round on TV before long and could then be taped, the practical upshot of which is that my VCR watched more TV than I did, and I have a backlog of stuff that may get watched someday. Or perhaps not, now that we have a DVD player and can properly appreciate the difference in picture quality. I'll still use the VCR for time-shifting and compiling Futurama tapes, but for films, I'm now quite happy to pay the hire charge and enjoy the wonderful picture and sound quality. I might even buy the odd DVD, although there aren't that many films that bear much repetition, IMHO (Gladiator, Monsieur Hulot's Holiday and Life of Brian excepted, maybe). Anyway, to rewind slightly, we had been thinking a bit more seriously about a DVD player since piles of the things started appearing in supermarkets for around ?100, aided and abetted by the apparent competition between BBC and ITV to produce material that made Channel 5 look like the intellectual's choice. However, I did know that the DVD player market is complicated by the existence of regions - this being the result of a wonderful piece of foot-shootery by Hollywood, who got into a big panic when DVD's were first invented and looked like being too easy to duplicate (tapes are less easy to copy in large quantities, as each has to be recorded individually at something like normal speed). They also wanted to be able to stagger the release of films around the globe, so after a bit of arm-twisting, agreement was reached that the world would be divided up into regions, 1 being the US (of course), 2 being Europe, 3 being Southeast and East Asia, 4 being Australia, the Pacific and South America, 5 being Russia, India and Africa, and 6 being China, and that DVD's and their players would be specifically coded for these areas. This meant that, until recently, if you bought a player here in the UK, it would only play region 2 discs. So far, so good, but if you bought discs while on holiday, or ordered them over the Internet, you might well have found them unplayable. Manufacturers of the hardware didn't like this either, as it meant producing separate machines for different parts of the world. In practice, they don't actually do this - instead they make one version and configure it for a particular region, and many are 'hackable' via the handset to play DVD's from other regions, but it is still easier to make them universal. The upshot of this is that a few players are multi-region out of the box, and even better than that, one of them is the cheapest player of the lot, the Alba 108 from Argos - see back page of the autumn catalogue (which was when I wrote this, but it has taken until now for Dooyoo to catch up!) If you're into badge snobbery, this obviously won't do (Alba, like Bush, Goodmans and Wharfedale, used to be a respected name a generation ago, but is no longer a manufacturer at all) but if you've got more sense than money, I respectfully suggest that you put your prejudices to one side and save yourself a decent wedge. The little Alba (and it is relatively small) has all the toys - Dolby 5.1 digital and analogue sound outputs, and both Scart and standard video outputs. It can also play CD-R's and decode MP3 files, and can even play VCD's (although the latter requires a bit of undocumented button-pressing). So what's the catch? None that I can find, and I suspect that it's all to do with economies of scale. They know these will sell by the truckload and can therefore produce enough of them to bring the cost down to a level that will make their rivals weep. I accept that it may not be particularly built to last, although I've no complaints about the standard of finish or the appearance, and the picture and sound quality are limited only by yo ur ot her e quipm ent. Get one of these and a nice big wide-screen TV and you may never go to the cinema again! Having said that, there are still occasions when the cinema provides the best experience, but the gap is narrowing, especially when you can also enjoy some home-made food (or a take-away) washed down with your favourite tipple - not something they approve of at my local multiplex... ------------------- I've just noticed that Dooyoo have the wrong picture and the wrong description for this model. It IS multi-region and it DOES play MP3's (and VCD's). ------------------- Several people have asked me about the buttons to press to play VCD's. There is more than one way to do this, but the simplest I have found is to press the Goto button repeatedly as soon as you have put the VCD in the drawer (while LOAD is on the display). You should then see a menu bar appear on the screen asking for the time (it may also briefly show a VCD logo, proving that it does know about them really!). Press 1 then Enter and off you go... This doesn't always work first time, so keep trying - it gets there in the end! I found this hack on www.dvd.reviewer.co.uk, which is an excellent site for, er, DVD reviews. Currently (Feb 2003) Sainsbury's have the Mico Diamante 3000 for a similar price (?70). This is also a nice player, and worth checking out. ------------------- OI! DOOYOO PEOPLE! THAT'S STILL THE WRONG PICTURE AND THE WRONG DESCRIPTION! IF I WAS ALBA I'D SUE...
Having travelled along to Argos with my reservation number for the Alba DVD 108, I was told at the till that this dvd player would not play VCD's and that I may recieve a different model to the one shown in the catalogue. Thinking that this rarely happens I promptly paid for it and picked it up. The actual model I was given was the slightly larger but nicer looking Alba DVD 109. I got it home, connected it to the tv by scart and hi-fi by phono and started to play. It's a very simple machine to operate with a short booklet of instructions that would only take the slowest of readers 5 minutes to get through. The picture quality was great and the 2x and 4x zoom very useful when your nagging wife doesn't like widescreen! Once I'd sorted out which setting to have the stereo sound on for my non dolby pro logic decoder hi-fi, (couldn't tell much difference), I was blasting out the sound with much pleasure! Although it only says on all packaging and instruction book cover that this DVD player is DVD/CD/MP3 compatable only, and despite being told it would not play VCD's, I am pleased to say that it DOES PLAY VCD'S. Without any pressing of buttons to change stuff, it played my two VCD's perfectly. Haven't tried MP3 yet and don't know if it's multi region or not yet. Other than that, this DVD player at only £69.99 is a fantastic bargain.