When I installed my first multi-disc changer in my Army barracks room about 15 years ago, many of my friends questioned why I needed so many discs on hand at a time. Certainly I was able to get up and change a disc after listening to it, but loading a number of audio discs into the changer effectively gave me hours of uninterrupted music, not to mention having cool features like playing discs and songs in random order.
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My sales pitch to my fellow soldiers must have worked, because within a few months, over half the platoon had added disc changers to their stereo systems, too. This led to one guy exclusively keeping five Metallica CDs loaded in his changer for a never-ending Metallica concert while a couple of others dueled it out with marathon sessions of Latin salsa performances. In hindsight, I regretted hyping disc changers to my buddies, and looked forward to going out in the field for peace and quiet.
Since serving my country, my interest in consumer electronics has grown. During this time, compact disc technology that was all the rage in the '80s--was replaced by an equally exciting media: digital versatile discs, pioneered by Philips and Sony in 1995. So when the new Philips DVD793C 5-disc changer arrived for review, I savored the thought of seeing what it had to offer.
Unique Features - First and foremost, the DVD793C is a progressive scan player with 3:2 pull-down conversion and a 5-disc changer. Progressive scan technology doubles the vertical resolution of images providing a much sharper picture. By connecting the DVD793C to a progressive scan compatible television or monitor using the component jacks, a superior picture with enhanced color becomes highly noticeable.
Although nobody with a disc changer really wants to move from their sofa, there are times when a trip to the machine to replace discs is inevitable. A function called Play Exchange makes the task easier by allowing you to change discs while one is playing. Up to four discs can be swapped during a Play Ex-change. Once discs are loaded, a resume feature will pick up where you left off on each disc. For instance if you switch from listening to a CD to viewing a DVD, when you return to music mode the DVD793C will automatically continue from the point you had stopped listening to the CD.
While searching forward or backward, it's often tough to get a good idea of what you're watching because the picture is so choppy. Philips has added what they call smooth scan to the DVD793C. Smooth scan offers playback frame by frame through DVD chapters for a clearer search. Likewise, the zoom function benefits from a jitter-free picture when watching freeze frame images or slow frame advances.
Because some DVD discs contain scenes not suitable for children, a comprehensive parental control is included. Up to 80 discs can have individual scenes or the entire movie rated by a parent from a general audience score of 1 to a mature audience rating of 8. When in use, higher rated scenes will not be played unless an alternative scene is available on the disc or a 4-digit code is entered.
This feature is available on most DVD changers, but it's usually not this far-reaching.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - To keep the price down for thrifty consumers, this changer doesn't have an onboard Dolby Digital or DTS decoder. But that shouldn't stop anyone from connecting the DVD793C to a Dolby-ready receiver and surround sound speaker system. My install called for THX certified Monster Cable component and digital audio interconnects to join the Philips changer with a NAD L70 DVD/receiver to acquire Dolby Digital and DTS capability. A switch on the rear panel of the unit is selectable for either S-video or component/progressive scan depending on the application. I switched from the factory S-video setting to component output and pushed forward with my evaluation in near record time.
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