Much like the computer industry, pricing for DVD players has come down to affordable levels for great performance. Players with features that cost $1,500 two years ago can now be found for a fraction of that cost. In fact, the trend these days is not what type of DVD player to buy, but what player should you get that is under $200?
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There is such a selection of DVD players out there right now, with all the features most people need, and they are priced to sell. It took, comparatively, much longer for VHS decks to come down to this level of pricing, but since DVD has permeated the marketplace to such a wide extent, it only makes sense that we see players so affordable so quickly.
Samsung's latest entry into this market is their DVD-P721M. It offers so much bang for the buck that on the surface many of us may wonder why more expensive players even exist? We'll get to that later, but in the meantime, let's look at what the Samsung DVD player offers, and why it exists.
Unique Features - The DVD-P721M DVD player offers some excellent features. Most importantly, it outputs a progressive-scan image, which, coupled with a TV with a progressive-scan input, will offer a much-improved video image. Since many TVs do not have this feature (except many newer high definition TVs), it may be a moot point for many consumers, but it surely is better to have the option in your DVD player than not. Especially for those of you considering upgrading your TV to high definition set at some point. A fairly common feature for DVD players that is also found in Samsung's DVD-P721M is the ability to play discs that are encoded in Dolby Digital or DTS--a nice feature for a player in this price range. With this flexible output, it allows the player to pass the signal to you're A/V receiver or surround sound processor, rather than actually decoding the signal, as some more expensive players do. I personally prefer my processing to take place in my processor or receiver (rather than the player), keeping the price down on the player, too.
Additionally, this DVD player also plays CD-R (recordable) discs, as well as CD-RW (rewritable) discs. Another format that the DVD-P721M can play is the popular MP3 format, mainly used to download music from the Internet. While MP3 recordings don't usually sound as rich and full as recordings that originated on CD (because they are compressed sonically), it is a nice feature to be offered by Samsung nonetheless. A revolutionary feature that I really thought was innovative was the inclusion of a Memory Stick port that allows the user to play back images stored on the popular format from a digital camera, or play back MP3 audio that has been stored on a Memory Stick. This is a real bonus if you want to show some family photos on your big screen or listen to music using this portable format.
There are two supplied remotes that come with the DVD-P721M. One is the full-featured remote that many will use most of the time, while the other is a smaller version meant for quick, daily control, rather than the exhaustive controls that one might need when using the Memory Stick feature or other more complicated maneuvers. Both remotes work pretty well, and they are both reasonably well laid out. The larger remote fits nicely in the palm of the hand, and makes things easy when navigating through a disc. Build quality of the Samsung is pretty slick, with a really cool front fascia. It features a silver-metallic look that is very striking. It's not the most heavy-duty, but it doesn't need to be.
Installation/Setup//Ease of Use - Setting up the Samsung was fairly straightforward. The menus are easy to read, and pretty straightforward. There are really nice graphics used in the menus, and this makes the setup process an easy experience.
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