~ When grey was the new black ~
Back in the day when there were shops which made a good living from renting televisions to people, the only colour that televisions came in was black.
My Philips LX3750W isn't as old as that, but it was one of the first to the 'home cinema' party in the early naughties and I wanted one. Fed up with videotape which wore down after repeated playing, here was something which promised to provide not only much better picture quality, but it came with 5 speakers and a sub woofer too! I had to have it.
The DVD player and Remote Control together with batteries; 5 speakers and a sub woofer, a transmitter and receiver and all the necessary leads and cables to link them all together. Philips thoughtfully also supply 4 mini speaker stands, and brackets and screws, so you can have the speakers freestanding or attached to the walls. There's also the obligatory Quick Start guide together with an impossibly large multi language user Manual.
Was really very simple. Actually attaching all the relevant wires that link the five speakers to either the receiver or transmitter was a piece of cake. I've had more problems assembling Ikea flat pack furniture.
However, the big selling point for this system was the fact that it was wireless. That's probably common or garden technology now, but at the time it was a big plus not to have wires snaking throughout your living room. That is, until I actually came to set this up and realised that it's not quite as wireless as I'd have liked. There are four speakers designed to be hung vertically around the room with a fifth one lying horizontally on top of the television, or nearby.
Ideally, all four vertical speakers would be positioned in the corners of your living room, The two rear speakers connect via wires to the receiver, which needs to be placed within easy reach of a plug socket. The three front speakers and subwoofer are all attached to the transmitter, which again has to be situated within easy access of a second plug socket. The DVD player itself, also naturally needs a power source, so a certain amount of planning needs to be undertaken before you're ready to actually start using this. Being wireless in this case means simply that the rear speakers do not need to be connected to the front speakers or indeed the player itself, so it is wireless of sorts.
Where I lived previously, the rooms were smaller and there were fewer plug sockets, so positioning the speakers was more of a problem. In my living room now, there are three lots of double sockets so it's not such an issue for me, but should be borne in mind.
~ Versatility ~
Everyone's idea of a home cinema kit is probably different. This dvd player doesn't record your favourite television programmes; it can't play Blu-ray let alone 3D films; and if you're desperate to own a dvd player/recorder which can stream media, then keep walking. I don't think MP3 players had even been invented when this was designed. The bread and butter of this particular system is simply playing films.
It does also come supplied with an FM antenna, meaning that I don't have to have a separate radio in the living room which I like. One drawback is of course that it only supplies access to FM stations and not digital ones, giving it a lifespan of only a few more years. I have four or five of our favourite stations pre-programmed in with each station being allocated a number from 1 to 9, so switching radio stations is as simple as pressing the corresponding remote control button.
Aside from playing films and listening to the radio, I use it to play cds. Having the sound come from 5 speakers dotted around is definitely better than the 2 my previous hifi had.
Before you write this off as being naff and outdated, it can also play MP3 cds and Kodak or Jpeg picture discs via your television. I have never used either, so I can't comment as to it's use, but I would imagine that most people nowadays prefer to view their holiday snaps either use a digital photoframe or have a state of the art dvd player/recorder where you can actually insert memory cards directly from a digital camera.
~ Ease of use ~
It couldn't be simpler. A flick of the finger and the remote control can switch between disc/cd and radio; or skip chapters of a dvd. The control is probably more chunky that its more modern counterparts, but it's still featherlight and well laid out. I found it easy to guess what most of the buttons are for, which is good because I'm usually too lazy to read user manuals, so the more intuitive a product is, the better.
Philips have also gone to the trouble of making this user friendly by enabling the volume of the subwoofer, the rear speakers and the front speakers to be independently changeable via the remote, rather than all lumped together. One drawback to this is that you have to decide aurally whether you feel they need adjusting - there is no on screen assistance to help you decide whether you have fixed the five speakers the right distance from your armchair(s).
Also worth a mention is the actual disc tray, which despite its constant use still slides in and out stably and without too much noise.
~ Aurally fixating? ~
The speakers are all a good height at 29 cm, and have a combined output of 300 watts. I find this is powerful enough and I've never needed or wanted to play my music at full strength.
Any action film rumbles or explosions are delivered through the subwoofer, and I find that the deeper bass tones come across well. The same goes for most of the music I play, especially the singers vocals.
Despite the overall sound quality being usually excellent, I have noticed that occasionally the rear speakers emit a loud popping sound which I think is due to interference. Being that these are the speakers nearest the sofa and armchairs, it has made me jump in the past.
~ Visually stimulating? ~
The dvd player and the speakers themselves still look robust and capable of a powerful performance.
And while the picture quality is not High Definition, Philips were ahead of the game by including what is called progressive scanning. As I understand it, this is referred to as 480p for the number of horizontal lines that compose the visual image. It supposedly creates a picture with twice the scan lines of a conventional DVD image, giving the viewer a much better image.
Anyone who now watches films via a blu ray player may still turn their nose up at the picture quality on this player, but low definition does have its uses. Those who remember how fantastic Mickey Rourke looked in in his heyday may well wish they couldn't see him now in blu ray vision.
~ A white elephant? ~
I've used this almost daily for nearly 7 years, either to watch dvds or listen to cds or the radio. Despite the fact that this is silver coloured and newer home cinema systems seem to come in black, I don't think it looks outdated or tired.
Technology waits for no man, and more recent home theatre systems will undoubtedly have more features. The only feature the LX3750W doesn't have which I would almost certainly use in a newer model is an ability to record television programmes. Until this finally expires though, I'm happy to trade that feature for longevity.
Despite its age, I would still recommend this to anyone wanting to buy what has turned out to be a very reliable dvd player. It goes without saying that Philips have stopped producing this, so if you want to sniff out a bargain, a look at Amazon and eBay may be worthwhile.