Product Type: JVC DVD players
Newest Review: ... - The unit Before there is any confusion, I bought a DVD player, not a DVD drive. My DVD player, the JVC XV-S42, is a player, not one o... more
Boys and their toys
JVC XV S 42
Member Name: Excelle
JVC XV S 42
Date: 31/07/02, updated on 31/07/02 (1220 review reads)
Advantages: Sleek, feature-packed, quality
Disadvantages: Not multi-region
Present a bloke with a brand new gadget and he'll be well chuffed - he'll sit there for hours playing with the features, and still come back for more. In fact, only football and women can possible contend with technology for your average bloke's affections.
So you can imagine my brain processes as I receive a modest tax rebate from those happy people in the tax office we all love to hate. Money = gadgetry! So off I toddled to my local Dixons, cash in hand. Not too long after, I was clutching a large box with 'DVD Player' written on the side, and sporting a suprisingly large grin for someone who had just parted with £130.
- You bought a what?
For those not in the know (and there are many less these days than in recent years), I thought I ought to include a quick explanation on DVD. DVD (Digital Versatile Disc acronym fans) is to VHS what CD was to cassette. Presented in a CD style sliver of silicon, DVD is a digital format (as opposed to VHS's analogue), and as such you get a much better quality of picture, better sound, and more fun stuff on the disc. Widescreen was adopted as something of a standard for DVD from the off, so don't be surprised to find big black bands on your standard TV screen. If I'm honest, this is the sole reason why I held off on buying a player, but once I got over myself, I realised that I don't actually notice it when I'm watching the film. And besides, I'll be buying myself a widescreen TV at some point anyway :)
The sound standard for DVD is generally Dolby Digital 5.1 (or 6.1 I think it is now - Fellowship of the Ring is in that encoding), so you can nice surround sound effects with the right equipm
ent. However, it still sounds great even with normal equipment, it just means you won't be disappointed when you splash out another few hundred pounds in the future to buy some top gear!
The main difference between VHS and DVD though, is that you get a more computer style interface. Each DVD (unless it's REALLY old and crap) has a menu style front end, where you can select scenes to skip to in the film, and watch extra features like documentaries and deleted scenes. So you see, DVD is good. Got that written down class? Then let us continue?
- Drive vs player
The decision is this - you can buy a DVD player that sits smugly under the TV like your common or garden video recorder, or a DVD drive that fits inside your computer. A player is useful because you can easily move it around, attach it to a TV in your bedroom or the front room and settle down comfortably with some popcorn to watch your films. With a DVD drive, you have to sit in front of your computer - so you are confined to the size of your monitor, and wherever your computer is. However, if DVDs start getting used even more as the storage medium of choice, then you're going to need a DVD drive in your computer anyway - a lot of computer magazines now have CD and DVD editions. It's a difficult decision - make your choice!
- The unit
Before there is any confusion, I bought a DVD player, not a DVD drive. My DVD player, the JVC XV-S42, is a player, not one of the new devices that allow you to record onto recordable DVDs. So this is the first point to take note of - you will still need a video recorder to tape Eastenders or Channel 5 porn off the TV.
The first thing you'll notice having opened the box is the size of the thing. While about the same dimensions as my old video recorder, the difference lies in the height. Sleek and sexy, the S42 is really quite slimline, so you'll have no trouble fitting it in, which is a bonus if
you're one of these people who already has about three boxes under the TV as it is. As well as being slim, the unit also looks the part, with a silver case, and a black finish where the LCD screen is located on the front. The front is also a little devoid of buttons, having only the basic power on, eject, play, pause, stop, forward and rewind. This is a bonus really though, as it moves the player away from the cluttered 'every function here' look of a lot of video/DVD players these days. The majority of the functions are handled from the remote control, which is well designed with all the useful buttons clustered in the area where your thumb/finger is likely to rest.
Turn to the back of the unit, and you'll see it's a techie's delight with a whole area of plugs, sockets and switches to mess with. If you just want to get it plugged in with a standard configuration, that's pretty easy too - lob the power cord in, and the SCART lead, and away you go. However, if you're up for creating a mega sound system, there's audio out sockets, and digital audio out (optical and coaxial connectors). In addition to those there is a video jack and a S-video jack for even more techyness. Oh and there's something called an AV Compulink jack, although the manual insists that this is a jack that isn't yet used, and is provided for the future. Technology AND mystery?
- Setting the beast up
Well, as already mentioned, you can just lob the SCART lead and power cord into the back, plug the SCART into the TV and the power lead into the plug socket (dur). Then you just switch on and away you go. Through the magic of the SCART lead, no tuning or rubbish is necessary, so you can go straight ahead and watch one of those shiny new discs should you feel so inclined.
- The manual
So you've got the player all plugged in and you've sat looking at it for a few minutes feeling very pleased with you
rself. Now what? Well if you're a newbie to this game, then I would certain recommmend having a flick through the manual. Yeah yeah, I know - but this isn't the new Tomb Raider game, there's a few things you could do with familiarising yourself with first, or you could find yourself missing out on some of the smarter features of this top piece of kit. The player's manual is a thing of beauty - it manages to be simplistic without being kiddy, and techy enough for you to find out everything you want to. This is no Matsui-style manual, this is the business. The diagrams are clear and informative, and the writing style, while a bit more confusing in the deep tech sections, is perfectly simplistic where you need (and want) it to be. Definitely what a manual should be.
- What does it do?
Emblazoned clearly on the front of the unit, the DVD player has three separate functions, all of which it performs really quite well:
DVD PLAYER - the first one is obvious - put a DVD into the machine and you can watch your favourite DVDs to your hearts content.
VIDEO CD PLAYER - less obvious, although common to many modern players. Video CDs are an older digital storage medium, using CDs and highly compressed videos, they lack a lot of the features of DVDs, the most important being the high quality of video and audio.
CD PLAYER - unusual, but it may be useful to some people. Stick your favourite chart CD into the player and you can listen to it. However, unless you have a top class home cinema setup, you'd probably be better listening to it on a stereo - it's what it was designed for after all!
- Spinning the discs
So what is it like to actually watch DVDs with this player. Well, it's very entertaining - everything you would expect it to be. Without the VHS chore of winding back and forth through the tape, jumpy pauses, and stretching tapes, watching DVDs is a pleasure with the S42. It co
uldn't be simpler to operate - all the basic functions work as they would with a CD player, and then you have all the special features, which we'll come to shortly. It's very relaxing to just pop a DVD onto the retractable tray, and then hit the play movie button on the menu and watch the DVD with no trouble.
- Twiddly bits
I mentioned at the start that all blokes like messing with the special features of new technology, and this device has plenty! Here's a taster:
STROBE FUNCTION - I'll be damned if I know what this is for, but it splits the screen into 9 frames of the video, and then advances each from by one, kind of like a flick book. Why? Because they can, I guess.
DIGEST FUNCTION - This allows you to select which scene on the DVD to move to, by showing you the first few frames in each scene in a 9-way split screen. This isn't that useful, since most DVD have a scene selection function in their menus these days.
ANGLE FUNCTION - Some DVDs allow you to change the camera angle you view some scenes from, especially documentary DVDs and the like. So you can just cycle through using this button.
ZOOM FUNCTION - Allows you to zoom in x2 on the on screen image.
3D-PHONIC FUNCTION - Allows you to have pseudo-surround sound from a 2 speaker system.
FRAME ADVANCE - Advance frame by frame in the video. You can also have a kind of slow motion view too.
SUBTITLE/AUDIO TOGGLE - Allows you to switch through all the different languages of subtitles and audio recorded onto the DVD. The subtitles can be particularly useful, especially if an actor does not speak clearly. Or you've got crap hearing, like me :)
SCREEN SAVER FUNCTION - Since the pause function on a DVD player gives a perfectly still image, you run the risk of burning the image into the screen if you leave it on too long. So the S42 has a screen saver to prevent this.
ONSCREEN MENU - The
re's a whole load of preferences available through an onscreen menu, but I'm not about to go through all those too - I'm not a manual you know :)
- Something that might bug some people
As those that know about DVDs will know, each disc has a Region Code. This is a form of copyright imposed by the publishers to try to stop people importing DVDs cheaply from other countries. The English and European region code is 2, and then there's 1 for the US, and a whole range of other codes. Players are on the market now which are 'multi-region' and allow you to view all region discs, and other players have codes you can enter through the remote to enable multi-region. Unfortunately, the JVC is not one of these, but if you're like me, you're only going to buy UK DVDs anyway, so it probably won't be a problem. But it might bother some people, and it's important to know.
- The end scene
The JVC XV-S42 is a smart piece of kit. JVC is a good name, so you can be happy that you've got a product that is top quality. It looks good, it works well, and it has just the right number of features to keep your average technology fiend happy. And best of all, it doesn't cost all that much. I've had many hours of fun with my DVD player since I bought it (yes, I probably should get out more) - it has certainly been a worthwhile investment. Nice!
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