Sony DVP-NS315 DVD Player Reviewed

Sony DVP-NS315 DVD Player Reviewed

Sony keeps finding ways to shove more and more features into their entry-level models. The DVP-NS315 is easy to use, has a pleasing form factor, and looks and sounds great. To see how it holds up compared to Toshiba, Panasonic, and Denon, we get one in.

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It was midnight when I checked my e-mail and discovered a message from my friend Kathleen. Upon returning from a kayaking adventure, she had entered her condo to find her entire living room flooded. Her upstairs neighbors had had a major water leak. Thankfully, she is fully insured so the damage would be covered. I replied to her e-mail and suggested that it was about time she threw out all those soggy VHS tapes anyway and make the move to DVD. I found it ironic that we had just spoken the week before about her reluctance to buy a DVD player because she had several hundred videotapes lying around.

When a company's product becomes popular, that company enjoys the success of a strong sales record. This popularity is gained because the consumer recognizes the product's high quality, good value and/or the manufacturer's reputation. Companies with popular products like to advertise their leadership in a given market, thereby driving sales even further. This can be seen most prominently in car ads, restaurant promotions and movie premieres. That's why it's no surprise that Sony's best selling DVD player, the DVPNS315, is at the top of many holiday wish lists this year. Sony's reputation for quality products added to their healthy dose of advertisements and promotions over the years has led to countless sales, in turn leading to almost immeasurable positive feedback and word of mouth comments from owners. Sony's very reasonably priced DVP-NS315 DVD player has been enjoying the top spot for quite some time now. Kathleen, after learning of the unit's success, picked one up for herself. Thousands of happy owners can't be wrong.

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Unique Features - I was pleasantly surprised with all the features that the DVP-NS315 offers. Despite the fact that Sony targets a casual use "newbie" audience for this unit, the DVD player delivers a top-notch picture and quality sound in a complete package suitable for all but the most discerning enthusiasts.

It's really annoying to find a damaged CD or DVD, but Sony's improved Precision Drive 2 mechanism virtually eliminates playback errors from warped or scratched discs. Making picture and sound adjustments is straightforward, thanks to Sony's setup display. Things like subtitles, screen size and personal preferences can be quickly changed even by new users though this interface. The background color or graphic that is displayed in the stop mode can also be adjusted and a screen saver image can be turned on or off. This works like a computer screen by displaying a scene after the player has been paused or stopped for 15 minutes. The screen saver helps prevent your display from becoming damaged from permanently burning an image into the screen and is a nice touch. Audio performance is enhanced with four TV Virtual Surround (TVS) settings that let you enjoy surround sound effects without rear speakers by adjusting the imaging. For example, the TVS Standard setting will fine-tune the sound to simulate a 5.1 surround sound and the TVS Night setting suppresses large sounds like explosions but leaves quieter sounds unaffected for late night viewing at lower volume levels.

Another significant advancement over similarly priced DVD players is
the Block Noise Reduction which decreases unwanted "block noise" from
the picture. This means that mosaic-like patterns that appear on your
screen as a result of fast motion or small detail can be eliminated for a
sharper picture. To aid in fine-tuning the video signal for the optimum
picture quality you seek, a custom picture mode with four popular
settings is included. For instance, to produce a bold dynamic picture
you may select the Dynamic 1 or Dynamic 2 settings to increase contrast
and intensity. I found that, depending on the type of movie I watched,
my taste in the playback mode changed. Comedies looked better with a
Dynamic setting but drama and action flicks benefited by one of the two
Cinema adjustments.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - From the moment the UPS man
delivered my Sony player for review, my four year-old son was pestering
me to see what was in the box. I took the opportunity to calm his
anguish by allowing him to help unpack and connect the player to the
television. It's not too exciting for an adult to connect a few wires,
but give that job to a young child and you would think they were just
given the contract to rewire the western power grid of the United
States. That's why I just sat back and watched my son put the
color-coordinated plugs in the component connections. Granted, this
player can be hooked up to a stereo amplifier or an audio/video receiver
with Dolby Pro Logic decoding, but for my first run through, I really
liked seeing a four year-old link the player to the TV.

After I had found it was simple enough for a child to set up, we
proceeded to put the Sony through its paces. With his Rolle Polie Olie
disc in hand, my son found the eject button faster than I did and we
were on our way. The front panel is smartly designed with an easy to
read display and only a few basic buttons. In fact, the eject button is
cleverly hidden between the disc tray and the display. A playback dial
is located near the right side of the player and accesses several
functions. It allows you to play a disc or search for a particular
point in several ways. You can skip to the next or previous chapter or
track by briefly turning the dial clockwise or counterclockwise. To
search forward or reverse, turn and hold the knob until you've reached
your destination. Most of the advanced features can
be operated by a few keystrokes of the remote control or by using the
on-screen graphic display. It wasn't long before the animated movie was
playing and I was adjusting things like playback picture with the custom
picture mode and adding a virtual surround sound effect. In all
honesty, the setup was so easy that if my 4-year old son could read he
probably could have figured out how to use the DVP-NS315.

Final Take - In comparison to other players in its class, the Sony
DVP-NS315 is a great bargain. The case comes in a slim traditional black
or stylish silver with a fine remote control. One remote control
function I have come to love on other electronic devices in my home is
the replay button. Sony included this feature so you can press a button
and the instant replay will go back 10 seconds before commencing
playback. This is great when you miss important movie dialogue. I like
Sony's on-screen programming menus as well. They ease setup issues and
make adjusting picture and sound playback simple. I was impressed by the
color and brightness with the clarity of the frame-by-frame and freeze
frame images exemplified in slow motion thanks to SmoothScan and
SmoothSlow technology.

If I were sent back in time to help design the DVP-NS315, I would
have suggested Sony use larger buttons on the front panel. While it's
true the player is good-looking, the small buttons are tough to use
until you practice using them awhile. Additionally, the front panel
display is legible but sometimes hard to read when at an angle. Other
than adding an optical port or features found in higher priced DVD
players, I can't imagine coming up with a more capable product in the
basic player category. Sony has really hit a home run and continued
testimonials from first-time DVD users like my friend Kathleen will
undoubtedly drive future sales.

Suggested Retail Price
$129.99

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