Last week I fought the crowd at my local theater because a new movie came out hat I wanted to see. I realized while I was standing in the long ticket line that it had been nearly two years since I last visited a movie theater. My wife and I used to see a movie every weekend, but since we upgraded to home theater, we lost interest in venturing out to the movies Now we avoid the crowd, eat our own snacks, and save the admission price of a family of four by renting or buying DVD movies.
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The popularity of DVD is evidence that movie viewing is shifting from theatres to homes. In fact, the days may be numbered for traditional movie theaters, as we know them. For consumer electronic giants like Mitsubishi, that's welcome news. They have a new, well designed line of players, built to provide super picture and sound quality, and which would blend nicely into just about any home theater.
Mitsubishi took its years of DVD experience and applied it to their players. Case in point: the new Mitsubishi DD-8030 single-disc home DVD player. Perfect for watching movies in surround sound or DVD-Audio discs with superior tonal quality, the DD-8030 offers a lot of bang for the buck. I found this out firsthand after testing the new machine.
The front panel has the disc tray centrally located above a DVD display with various essential buttons aligned to the right. The display is very bright but can be conveniently dimmed with a button on the remote control. However, the display proved to be an annoyance each time I loaded a new disc, with messages such as: "loading disc" scrolling from right to left at a slow pace that is nearly illegible. The loading speed of discs is at a snail's pace, and the buttons on the front panel are poorly labeled. One oversight by Mitsubishi is the lack of a headphone jack on the DD-8030. Although many buyers don't use headphones, it's a nice feature when privacy is an issue.
Compatible with DVD-Video, DVD-A, and Video-CDs, the DD-8030 can also accept CDR, CD-RW and DVD-R discs. Digital photographs in JPEG format can be displayed in a variety of ways through a graphical user interface (GUI) as well. Hearing that this Mitsubishi unit would reveal photos from a disc, I quickly burned a bunch of images from my computer onto a CD-R. After several failed attempts to view the pictures by just loading them from a disc in the tray, I resorted to picking up the separate photo viewer instructions to see where I went wrong. My first mistake was to save my images into folders. The DVD player can't recognize files in an organized system. Therefore all files must be grouped together, which can be inconvenient for dozens of unrelated images. My second mistake was saving images of various sizes on a CD. Discs with pixel sizes that do not match the six sizes supported by Fuji, Kodak or Canon will not work. Furthermore, any file over one megabyte or images larger than 1536 x 1024 will make the disc incompatible. Once I prepared a CD with the correct images to be displayed, I found the viewer system very enjoyable. Pictures can be displayed in a photo album with 8 thumbnail images per page, a slide show with custom settings or a full screen single picture view. While viewing full-size images, photos can be rotated, panned and magnified. Owners of digital cameras and computers should find the photo viewer fun and easy to manipulate, however usefulness may be another stow. Depending on your application, saving the correct size photos on a CD to display them through your TV may be a neat gimmick but not very practical. However, it could prove to be a terrific throw back to dad's old vacation slides the whole family watched back in the 60s. You remember being dragged into the living room to watch those slide shows, right?
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
Standard connections include composite video, S-Video and component video. I first viewed a test disc using S-Video with very good results, however with the preferred component video connections, video quality was much improved. Component video yields net results of diminished flicker and higher quality pictures. This was evident after just a few moments into my new Spider-Man DVD. I skipped ahead to action scenes where fast moving Spider-Man swung from building to building by webs spun from his wrists. Actor Tobey Maguire seemed to fly out of the screen with the digital accuracy one comes to expect from DVD technology. Later, after watching Monsters, Inc., I noticed incredible detail even in slow motion and when paused. Switching from a similarly equipped Apex player that I use as a backup unit, I was surprised how much better the Mitsubishi picture looked. Owners of integrated high definition television sets will benefit with even better picture quality from the built in progressive scan output.