Zenith XBV343 DVD/VCR Combo Reviewed

Zenith XBV343 DVD/VCR Combo Reviewed

When DVD first came out, many places were still renting video cassette's and people also owned tons of them so combo players like this were not uncommon. They offered fewer components while maintaining the flexibility to watch either format

Zenith is an old and reliable consumer electronics brand. During the 1950s and '60s, Zenith was a leader in color television. Over time, they have re-invented themselves to become a leading C/E brand today. Currently, the company is owned by LG Electronics, offering a wide range of HDTV products, and more recently DVD/VCR combination models. Zenith certainly offers quite a bit of bang for your buck, too. It is one of the most reasonably priced full-featured progressive scan DVD players with an integrated 4-Head HiFi VCR products available today. Their model XBV343 is priced at $199.

Unique Features - Housed in an attractive all-silver cabinet that is less than 4-inches high, the Zenith model XBV343 features a single-play progressive scan DVD player that is located on the left-hand side of the unit. On the right-hand side of the unit is a 4-head HiFi VCR. Key controls are located directly underneath the respective unit, separated in the middle by a wide LCD display screen. A noteworthy control button is located just left of center--Copy, which allows for the copying of a non-copy-protected DVD onto a VHS tape. This model also provides a front A/V inputs (Line 2) connector. This allows for the easy attachment of a camcorder or game console.

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The XBV343 will also play back music CDs, DVD-R/RWs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, N1133 and WMA-encoded CDs, plus JPEG Picture CDs. Like virtually all DVD players today, this model will output both Dolby Digital and DTS signals via its digital audio outputs. It also includes a simulated 3D surround effect to enhance the sound in a two-speaker setting. The VCR portion is a 4-Head HiFi VCR that features 19 micron heads for optimum recording and playback at the slowest SLP speeds. This model includes a 181-channel tuner with auto clock set. The user is also able to program eight events over a 365-day period. There is a three-second back-up timer in case of short brownouts, as well as commercial skip that will quickly advance the tape in 30-second increments of recorded material.

This player comes with a remote control that handles both DVD and VCR operations. While there are no illuminated or glow-in-the-dark keys, the rubberized keys are sensibly laid out with the cursor ring (with directional and enter keys) in the middle, and a thumb rest at the bottom of the remote. (Of course, this could also be a thumb scanner or a DNA collector.) Except for the Power key and Rec keys that are in blue, all keys are gray.

Click to Page 2 for Installation, Evaluation, and the Final Take.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - Like other DVD/VCR combos on the
market today, installation and setup was very easy. Also like other
combos, you are given a choice of either convenience (using the DVD+VCR
connectors) or best image quality (using either S-Video or component
video for the DVD portion). With this scenario, you will switch video
inputs on your television to watch either DVD or videos. Instead of
using a switch on the back panel of your player like another recently
reviewed model, you can set the XBV343 to either interlaced or
progressive scan via the Set-Up menu. This was very easy to accomplish,
and preferable to the switch option.

As with other DVD/VCR combos available, there are two sets of
centrally located inputs and outputs on the back of the unit. The inputs
and outputs include S-Video, component video out, and digital audio
(both coaxial and optical) outputs that are labeled `DVD Exclusive Out.'
Just to the left of the DVD Exclusive connectors, you will find DVD/VCR
connectors. These are simply composite video and analog audio (L+R)
RCA-type jacks. And, if you use them, it will pass all signals--both DVD
and VCR. However, this will give you a resolution of only 240 lines for
the VCR, and 330 lines for the DVD player (instead of 480p). Just to
the left of the DVD/VCR out jacks, you'll find VCR Line 1 in jacks,
which are standard composite video and analog audio jacks. This input
can be used to tether a satellite box for easy recordability.

On-screen menus were clear and concise. There are four icons located
on the left-hand side of the screen: Clock, Program, Tuning, and Set
Up. Each has its own subset of menus, which were clear and easy to
follow, allowing you to easily configure the DVD to your specifications.
Within these sub-menus, you can tell it whether you have a standard
television (interlaced) or a newer HD-capable model. If you do have a
newer HD-capable model, you can obtain the full benefit of this DVD
player by clicking on progressive scan. By doing so, all of your
displayed DVD images will be 480p. The auto clock set feature for the
VCR works by simply turning it on from the Clock sub-menu. Of course,
you can set the clock manually, along with invoking the Daylight Savings
option.

Final Take - The Zenith XBV343 is an attractive DVD/VCR combo
offering many desirable features including progressive scan technology
for the DVD portion, and 19 micron heads for the VCR portion. The
supplied remote is simple and easy to use. I admit that I missed having
illuminated or glow-in-the-dark keys, though I did like the thumb rest.

Video performance was on par with other DVD/VCR combos and image
quality was above average thanks to its progressive scan capability.
Obviously, the whole point in purchasing a combo of this caliber is
because it includes a progressive scan DVD player plus a HiFi VCR. Many
people would probably buy this unit as a replacement for their aging
VCR, and it would offer them good value. Good value related to full
features is the main selling point.

The Zenith XBV343 is also one of the lowest priced full-featured
models currently available, making it an excellent value for the money.
So, based on performance and value, the Zenith XBV343 is an excellent
choice if you are in the market for a DVD/VCR combo or a replacement for
your old VCR.

Zenith XBV343 DVD/VCR Combo
Single-play Progressive Scan DVD
One-Touch Record
Plays back DVD, CD, CD-R, CD-RW,
Video CD, WMA & JPEG CD
Copy DVD Function
Front AN jacks
MP3 Decoding
Variable High-Speed Scan (2x,4x,16x,100x)
4-Head HiFi VCR w/19 Micron Head
S-VHS Quasi Playback
Auto Clock Set
3.8" H x 16.9" W x 11.5" D
Weight: 11 lbs.
MSRP: $199

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