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Bertie Buggerington (U.K.)

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Philips DVP3360/05 1080p Upscaling DVD Player - Black
Philips DVP3360/05 1080p Upscaling DVD Player - Black

183 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUCH more than just a DVD player!, 19 Jun 2009
This Philips DVP3360 DVD player is simply amazing. DivX/Xvid support, USB 2.0, region free in a few clicks of your remote....what more can you ask for?

The main attraction here though is the scaling to HD resolutions over HDMI. Well good news.....the scaling/de-interlacing chip inside this baby is the very same Miediatekİ chip used in the Oppo 980H upscaling player....which costs about £175 in Europe. So take it from me, 1080p, 1080i or 720p scaling/de-interlacing is handled MUCH better than all but the more expensive TV's chipsets. That is how it works you see....for a normal consumer grade TV set, IF you have a good upscaling player, you let the DVD player perform the scaling, by setting it to output 720p, 1080i or 1080p over HDMI. But if the TV is of a much higher quality than your DVD player, you make the player output 576p (or i) over HDMI or component and let the TV's chipset do the scaling/de-interlacing to the TV's native resolution. My Sony Bravia set looks great when it scales to HD resolutions, but the Mediatek chipset in this player does an even better job..so I feed my set 1080i. (Note: The Mediatek chip is also the same one as in the more expensive Philips DVP5990). At the end of the day, though, always let your eyes be the judge.

Please note, if you're new to upscaling: Ignore the salesman hype about SD upscaling rivaling Blu-Ray and broadcast HD....it simply never will. But it is DAMN nice when done well....and a perfect halfway house for those not prepared to pay Blu-Ray prices. Also, for those with TV sets smaller than 40", upscaled DVD is easily your best bet. For me and many other people, Blu-Ray is a specialist format for those with very big screens and even deeper pockets.

The DVP3360 has played every disc I've thrown at it.....even scratched up no brand DVD-R's or DVD+R's....no sensitivity issues here. This makes it perfect for home burned media. That's IF you can be bothered burning DVD's in the first place of course. As if you chuck a USB flash drive into your shopping basket at the same time as buying this, or if you have one at home already, you can take full advantage of the high speed USB 2.0 port on the front of the player. Just drag files to the flash drive on your PC...DivX, Xvid, MP3, WMA and what-have-you, and plug it in the DVP3360. No more formatting and burning discs....brilliant. Previous Philips players used USB 1.1....which was fine for playback of slow moving drama style movies, but when it came to car chases and other fast moving scenes it got very choppy indeed. So much so that it just wasn't worth it sometimes. And don't get me started on fast-forwarding and re-winding movies on a USB 1.1 drive....you got 2x speed at best. Not the case any more...USB 2.0's data rate is up to 480MBPS (USB 1.1 was a lousy 12MBPS), so fast scenes play as they would off a DVD, and FF/RW is also smooth and fast...up to 32x speed in fact. Brilliant!

You are not just limited to USB flash drives either....if you buy a USB 2.0 external HDD (160GB or less), and format it to the FAT32 standard (it does not recognise NTFS formatted devices), you can keep your entire movie/music collection in DivX/Xvid/MP3/WMA on one of these instead, and stand it neatly at the DVP3360's side. That makes it MUCH more than just a DVD player in my eyes....it becomes a multimedia centre at this point.

WANT REGION FREE DVD SUPPORT? No problem...just follow these very simply steps:
1. Turn the DVD player on (with no disc in the drive).
2. Press the "Setup" button on the remote control.
3. Highlight but do not select the "Preferences" page using the right directional button.
4. Type 1,3,8,9,3,1 on your remote. The default region setting will be displayed.
5. Use the Up/Down directional buttons to select the required region, or select "0" for region free.
6. Press the "Setup" button on the remote control to leave the menu.

Congratulations...your player is now region free.

So now that's a region free HDMI 1080p upscaling DVD player with USB 2.0....for less than £60? That means bargain in anyone's language.....especially considering the high quality guts of the machine and its sleek, sexy looks.

Note, too, that the only thing the more expensive DVP5990 has on this baby is an optional optical SPDIF output. This machine has just digital coaxial...but digital audio is digital audio. Oh...and the DVP5990 also has WMV support, but I know for a fact that a well known firmware modifier is currently planning an unofficial patch to add WMV support to this machine, so even that won't matter soon (although firmware modification is a warranty violation, so proceed with that at your own risk). In light of all this, I'd save yourself a few quid and buy the DVP3360 instead of its older brother - I did, and I am not regretting it in the slightest. A well deserved 5 stars.
Comment Comments (28) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2011 3:01 PM GMT


Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 2 [DVD]
Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Shatner
Price: £13.29

86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A REVIEW OF THE BOX SET ITSELF., 27 April 2009
Let's face it, the stories and subject matter of the episodes themselves have been discussed and reviewed at length in reviews of the previous releases of the series, therefore I shall concentrate this review on just the new box sets themselves, and of course on the new remastered and completely re-worked CGI effects (FX) contained in them.

First of all the box set packaging: The unbelievably slimline sets arrive in fancy steel cases, with artwork as pictured in this listings. Inside the steel case is a plastic DVD case the likes of which I'm starting to see a lot more often, of which I believe they refer to as a Scanavo 'brick' style case. Basically it is like a very fat version of an Amaray case that can hold up to 8 DVD's in a very small amount of space - two discs each set inside both the front and back of the case, and a fold out 'leaf' that can hold up to two discs on either side of it - in the case of season 2 there are the full 8 discs. The actual spindle/lock mechanisms that keep the discs in place are very strong, and it is quite hard to get the discs out without bending them....it can be quite fiddly at first, and somewhat of a strain. I believe after a little bit of use they should loosen up a bit, making it easier to get at the discs.

Now the episodes themselves have never looked better. I believe Youtube is a great source of side-by-side comparisons of the original FX and this all new, completely re-worked CGI FX. But let me tell you what I think...the new CGI looks astonishingly good. I believe CBS Digital purposefully never utilised the full capability of today's CGI wizardry, as if it came out looking 100% photo realistic, it would be jarring for the viewer when it went from space CGI FX to the live action sequences...which let us not forget was all shot in the late 1960's. So they had to strike a balance, and for me they got it spot on. The new CGI blends beautifully with the live scenes. So, gone are the slightly wobbly models of old, hello to stunning new CGI ships with their fluid and more realistic animation. Gone are the old star fields and planets, hello to new CGI based star fields and planets - both of which actually do look photo real to me. Space and the ship models are not the only area to benefit from the new CGI - some of the the old flat matte painting backdrops that feature cityscapes and what-have-you have been replaced with new CGI ones. These CGI backdrops have much more depth and detail to them. They are very welcome indeed. Elsewhere you will spot other subtle touch ups, one of which I liked was the ending of the season 2 episode 'Catspaw'...where no longer are the alien creatures dancing around on string....the string is no more. For me that typifies why they have done this work...as quite simply it makes the series look better. Simple as that. Let us not take anything away from what was achieved back then, as I love Star Trek just the way it was, as I'm sure do you, but let us also not kid ourselves.....Star Trek The Original Series has never looked better than this.

All in all the work compliments what they achieved back in the 60's, and let us not forget that what they achieved back then was stunning and state-of-the-art for its time, but I firmly believe that had Gene Roddenberry been able to use today's technology, he would. Therefore I would like to think he would approve of the work done here. After all, nothing of the stories and subject matter have been changed, as George Lucas did with his restoration of Star Wars...it is purely a lick of digital paint. And if this is what it takes for the series to appeal to a younger generation of fans raised on mindboggling CGI, then I for one approve whole-heartedly. I've heard of dads trying to get their kids into TOS, only to see them giggle at the FX of old. No longer will that be the case, and TOS is now ready to accept a whole new legion of young fans that will no doubt have their interest sparked by JJ Abrams new movie. If purists do not like the FX, then by all means....go to eBay and buy the previous DVD releases if you don't already own them. Personally I now own both versions, and I am a huge fan of both. If I could only take one version of the sets on a desert island with me, however, these are the sets I would take.

Aside from the new CGI FX, the actual prints themselves have been cleaned and restored to beautiful effect. The true colours of the show are now very much in evidence...including a subtly green skinned Mr Spock, which comes as a big surprise to a lot of people...as this just never came through on TV or on previous releases. Kirk's once dull mustard coloured uniform shirt is actually a subtle lime green colour, for example. Nothing has been falsely created to acquire these colours....they have always been hiding away waiting to be revealed. At first I was worried this all wouldn't come through so much on the DVD versions, as they had first been reported in the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD reviews, but I can attest that the standard definition sets also benefit greatly. Of course the details will sing and dance a lot more in HD, but for SD DVD prints these are simply stunning. All hairs, dust and whatever else have been laboriously removed to leave them literally gleaming. The prints are, in a word, immaculate. If you use an upscaling DVD player with a HDMI connection, as do I, they look even better still. A great halfway house between bog standard SD and full HD.

Some fans may be a little sore that once again the episodes are presented in air date order, as many fans seem to prefer production order...but as TOS has always been episodic in nature, with no particular story arc to speak of, this doesn't bother me at all. I've always found watching in production order to be quite novel...but the novelty soon wears thin.

As regards special features (as listed on the packaging of Season 2):
Special Features include: 'Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest' (rare home movies and special memories, part 2), 'More Troubles with Tribbles' (the episode from the animated series [TAS]), 'Trials and Tribble-ations' (the DS9 episode), 'Designing the Final Frontier', 'Star Trek's Favourite Moments', 'Kirk, Spock & Bones - Star Trek's Great Trio'.....and "much more". (which I guess means that there are more features than this, although that is all it actually lists on the box). So it appears that the bulk of the features included on the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray sets have remained intact for their DVD counterparts. One thing that never made it over would have actually been impossible given the capacity restrictions of the DVD format, and that was having a choice of both the original FX and the new CGI FX, which I know the Blu-Ray format gives you via fancy seamless branching. I am sure there are a small few other features that Blu-Ray has that would have been impossible on DVD, but rest assured that all the important stuff (documentaries, featurettes, interviews and what-have-you) from the HD releases are all present and correct. This is excellent news to those fans, like myself, not ready to make the jump to HD.

As regards audio and language specifications:
The audio languages are: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The bad news however is that only English is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and the rest are mono. I have run it through my amp to test that it isn't a misprint...I'm afraid not, it is Dolby 2 channel mono on all but the English track. This will be a shame to many as I know that lots of German fans in particular bought the slimline sets of TNG, DS9 and VOY here on Amazon UK (cheaper)....which I believe all contained a German 5.1 Dolby track. Subtitled languages on these new sets are: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.

So there you have it. A fantastic DVD release. Easily the definitive DVD release of the original series. I bought all three seasons, and I am so glad I did. I had already managed to see a few of the restored episodes before now, but to own them all in my own collection is quite a feeling. I whole-heartedly recommend that you order all three. I can assure you, you will not be disappointed.
Comment Comments (26) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2013 8:23 AM GMT


Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 [DVD]
Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Shatner
Price: £11.00

317 of 334 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A REVIEW OF THE BOX SET ITSELF., 27 April 2009
Let's face it, the stories and subject matter of the episodes themselves have been discussed and reviewed at length in reviews of the previous releases of the series, therefore I shall concentrate this review on just the new box sets themselves, and of course on the new remastered and completely re-worked CGI effects (FX) contained in them.

First of all the box set packaging: The unbelievably slimline sets arrive in fancy steel cases, with artwork as pictured in this listings. Inside the steel case is a plastic DVD case the likes of which I'm starting to see a lot more often, of which I believe they refer to as a Scanavo 'brick' style case. Basically it is like a very fat version of an Amaray case that can hold up to 8 DVD's in a very small amount of space - two discs each set inside both the front and back of the case, and a fold out 'leaf' that can hold up to two discs on either side of it - in the case of season 1 there are the full 8 discs. The actual spindle/lock mechanisms that keep the discs in place are very strong, and it is quite hard to get the discs out without bending them....it can be quite fiddly at first, and somewhat of a strain. I believe after a little bit of use they should loosen up a bit, making it easier to get at the discs.

Now the episodes themselves have never looked better. I believe Youtube is a great source of side-by-side comparisons of the original FX and this all new, completely re-worked CGI FX. But let me tell you what I think...the new CGI looks astonishingly good. I believe CBS Digital purposefully never utilised the full capability of today's CGI wizardry, as if it came out looking 100% photo realistic, it would be jarring for the viewer when it went from space CGI FX to the live action sequences...which let us not forget was all shot in the late 1960's. So they had to strike a balance, and for me they got it spot on. The new CGI blends beautifully with the live scenes. So, gone are the slightly wobbly models of old, hello to stunning new CGI ships with their fluid and more realistic animation. Gone are the old star fields and planets, hello to new CGI based star fields and planets - both of which actually do look photo real to me. Space and the ship models are not the only area to benefit from the new CGI - some of the the old flat matte painting backdrops that feature cityscapes and what-have-you have been replaced with new CGI ones. These CGI backdrops have much more depth and detail to them. They are very welcome indeed. Elsewhere you will spot other subtle touch ups, one of which I liked was the ending of the season 2 episode 'Catspaw'...where no longer are the alien creatures dancing around on string....the string is no more. For me that typifies why they have done this work...as quite simply it makes the series look better. Simple as that. Let us not take anything away from what was achieved back then, as I love Star Trek just the way it was, as I'm sure do you, but let us also not kid ourselves.....Star Trek The Original Series has never looked better than this.

All in all the work compliments what they achieved back in the 60's, and let us not forget that what they achieved back then was stunning and state-of-the-art for its time, but I firmly believe that had Gene Roddenberry been able to use today's technology, he would. Therefore I would like to think he would approve of the work done here. After all, nothing of the stories and subject matter have been changed, as George Lucas did with his restoration of Star Wars...it is purely a lick of digital paint. And if this is what it takes for the series to appeal to a younger generation of fans raised on mindboggling CGI, then I for one approve whole-heartedly. I've heard of dads trying to get their kids into TOS, only to see them giggle at the FX of old. No longer will that be the case, and TOS is now ready to accept a whole new legion of young fans that will no doubt have their interest sparked by JJ Abrams new movie. If purists do not like the FX, then by all means....go to eBay and buy the previous DVD releases if you don't already own them. Personally I now own both versions, and I am a huge fan of both. If I could only take one version of the sets on a desert island with me, however, these are the sets I would take.

Aside from the new CGI FX, the actual prints themselves have been cleaned and restored to beautiful effect. The true colours of the show are now very much in evidence...including a subtly green skinned Mr Spock, which comes as a big surprise to a lot of people...as this just never came through on TV or on previous releases. Kirk's once dull mustard coloured uniform shirt is actually a subtle lime green colour, for example. Nothing has been falsely created to acquire these colours....they have always been hiding away waiting to be revealed. At first I was worried this all wouldn't come through so much on the DVD versions, as they had first been reported in the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD reviews, but I can attest that the standard definition sets also benefit greatly. Of course the details will sing and dance a lot more in HD, but for SD DVD prints these are simply stunning. All hairs, dust and whatever else have been laboriously removed to leave them literally gleaming. The prints are, in a word, immaculate. If you use an upscaling DVD player with a HDMI connection, as do I, they look even better still. A great halfway house between bog standard SD and full HD.

Some fans may be a little sore that once again the episodes are presented in air date order, as many fans seem to prefer production order...but as TOS has always been episodic in nature, with no particular story arc to speak of, this doesn't bother me at all. I've always found watching in production order to be quite novel....but the novelty soon wears thin.

As regards special features (as listed on the packaging of Season 1):
They include: 'Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest' (rare home movies and special memories), 'Spacelift' (transporting Trek into the 21st century), 'Life Beyond Trek' (William Shatner), 'Reflections as Spock', 'Sci-Fi Visionaries' and 'Star Trek Beyond the Final Frontier'...and "much more" (which I guess means that there are more features than this, although that is all it actually lists on the box). So it appears that the bulk of the features included on the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray sets have remained intact for their DVD counterparts. One thing that never made it over would have actually been impossible given the capacity restrictions of the DVD format, and that was having a choice of both the original FX and the new CGI FX, which I know the Blu-Ray format gives you via fancy seamless branching. I am sure there are a small few other features that Blu-Ray has that would have been impossible on DVD, but rest assured that all the important stuff (documentaries, featurettes, interviews and what-have-you) from the HD releases are all present and correct. This is excellent news to those fans, like myself, not ready to make the jump to HD.

As regards audio and language specifications:
The audio languages are: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The bad news however is that only English is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and the rest are mono. I have run it through my amp to test that it isn't a misprint...I'm afraid not, it is Dolby 2 channel mono on all but the English track. This will be a shame to many as I know that lots of German fans in particular bought the slimline sets of TNG, DS9 and VOY here on Amazon UK (cheaper)....which I believe all contained a German 5.1 Dolby track. Subtitled languages on these new sets are: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.

So there you have it. A fantastic DVD release. Easily the definitive DVD release of the original series. I bought all three seasons, and I am so glad I did. I had already managed to see a few of the restored episodes before now, but to own them all in my own collection is quite a feeling. I whole-heartedly recommend that you order all three. I can assure you, you will not be dissapointed.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2014 12:23 AM BST


Samsung - S860 Digital Camera - black
Samsung - S860 Digital Camera - black

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A more honest review, 7 Jan 2009
I thought I'd write a review to counterpoint the curious one star review given by another customer:

I dread to think how the other reviewer's camera was treated to be scratched so badly within only weeks of use, as I have had mine much longer and it has been treated well and as such has no scratches around the lens or anywhere else on the unit. Think about it for a second, to acquire scratches that bad the reviewer has obviously mistreated the device to a great extent and therefore it renders all their other points concerning the camera's use debatable at best, as they could all be down to general ill-treatment of the camera itself. I have suffered none of the complaints contained in the other review and my camera is older and used very often indeed. I also went straight online when my camera arrived, and I found out its physical dimensions, and purchased a suitable protective case[!], as should everyone else for such a delicate instrument as a digital camera!

The other point the reviewer makes about it taking AA batteries also made me do a double take, as who these days uses standard alkaline AA batteries for high drain devices such as this? The second thing I did when my camera arrived was to put in high quality, high capacity rechargeable NiMh AA batteries, which allows the camera to run 4 times longer than standard alkaline batteries, and they can be recharged up to 1000 times. Also, when they eventually don't hold their charge as well, I'll nip into any electrical store in the world and buy some new rechargeable AA batteries.....which owners of Li-ion run cameras will not be able to do, as they will be at the mercy of the manufacturer specific battery that came with their camera. So I'm sorry to the other reviewer but I also cannot accept the use of AA batteries as a negative feature of this camera. When you use rechargeable AA batteries, it is very much a positive feature. Even if in an emergency you can't get to your AA mains charger, walk into any shop in the world and buy 2 AA alkalines to tide you over. Can you do that with fancy Li-Ion batteries?

As for the camera quality itself, well it is great. It takes beautiful photos, has a wealth of user friendly features and really is very simple to use. You can use the 'Auto' mode and let the camera do all the work (point and shoot foolproof), or you can use the manual mode and make all the adjustments such as image quality/size/, ISO settings and colour etc yourself. There is also a mode that tutors you in each setting, telling you what each one does. This is a great way to get to know the camera in a small amount of time. In short, it is a great camera for its entry level price point. I simply couldn't recommend it enough.

I now hope prospective buyers have a more balanced view of the product. Thanks for reading.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2009 4:47 PM GMT


The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Gamecube Version): Prima Authorized Game Guide
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Gamecube Version): Prima Authorized Game Guide
by Stephen Stratton
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Specifically for Gamecube!, 15 Dec 2008
Just make sure if it is the Gamecube version of the game you want to play, you buy THIS guide and not the Wii version of the guide. If you never knew, the game is identical in both versions....except for one MAJOR difference - the Wii version of the game is a perfect mirror image of the Gamecube version. They did this so that in the Wii version, Link would be holding his sword in his right hand, corresponding to the fact you're supposed to hold the Wii controller in your right hand. You see, normally Link is a leftie. They did this so that the majority of players would be better catered for (most people are right handed). I don't know if there would have been a better way of getting around this, but they achieved it by making the two versions of the game perfect mirror images of each other.

So it all ultimately means that, for example, if the Wii guide says head East, you head West if you're playing the Gamecube version. Now you may think you can deal with that over the course of the game....but I would think it could get really confusing at times. So best cut out any confusion and buy this Gamecube specific version of the guide, if it's the Gamecube Twilight Princess you want to play. And visa versa for the Wii version. Also, the guide has subtle tactical help differences when explaining certain control manoeuvres unique to the Gamecube version (fishing is a whole different ballgame depending on which version you're playing, for example).

I give the guide full marks based on the fact that Gamecube specific online Twilight Princess guides are thin on the ground, meaning this is invaluable to Gamecube players wanting a guide - and also because, like all Prima guides, it is very comprehensive and pays attention to the details, which other guide publishers are not as good at. Trust me, this has everything you'll need to know. Even if you plan on not using a guide while playing, it is actually an informative and beautifully illustrated book to own in its own right.


Philips DVP3980/05 - DVD Player with True High-Def HDMI 1080p
Philips DVP3980/05 - DVD Player with True High-Def HDMI 1080p

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total bargain!, 7 Nov 2008
I know this player lacks a couple of bells and whistles, such as USB or memory card inputs, but let us look at what it does have. Picture quality is amazing from the HDMI port on a HD ready TV. Video is handled by a 12bit video DAC and it is truly very nice. Audio is handled by a 24bit Audio DAC and the sound is wonderful too. 1080p and 720p scaled DVD's honestly look very clean, clear and flow well...which is the sign of a very capable scaling chip.

At first I fretted that the DTS logo was nowhere to be seen, and not mentioned in the manual either, but I was quickly relieved when I hooked it up via the coaxial digital output to my separate decoder to find that it passed through the 7.1 / 5.1 DTS bitstream without issue. So it seems that Philips merely cut a corner by not putting a DTS decoder inside...backed up by the fact that switching a disc's audio track to DTS results in muted TV speakers....but hey, DTS is a surround sound mode and if you crave it you will already have a DTS capable amp....so this is no big issue at all.

As regards connections it has: 1x HDMI, 1x Component, 1 RGB SCART, 1 pair of analog audio out sockets (RCA/phono) and 1x coaxial digital out socket. No Toslink/optical I'm afraid....but most amps have coaxial inputs and, at the end of the day, digital audio is digital audio. Philips have also kept the price down by including no free AV cable of any kind, which is commendable, as most people would prefer to buy their own as opposed to using the cheap things that come in the box. So the only accessory in the box is the rather nice looking remote control and 2 AAA batteries.

DivX playback was flawless....and the files were quickly loaded so I could tell that the 'engine' is pretty fast too. I should note that the first thing I did was to find the most beat up/scratched rewritable DVD-RW I could find for the DivX test....if a machine plays files off one of those you will know that it will not bother you in the future by being fussy over media. And I'm pleased to report that all the files played through fine. As did some old/scratched DVD-R and DVD+R discs authored as DVD-VIDEO. It seems this is one of those machines that never complains and spits out a disc over a few lousy marks (I should add that I look after my discs in general, I purposefully scratch a couple up for this test as it is a good way to spot laser over-sensitivity in a player). I should also add that this player is 'DivX Ultraİ' certified... so it comes with extra menu, subtitle and audio features with its DivX playback, as opposed to standard DivX certified machines. This is a very nice feature.

Overall Philips have cut all the right cost corners and not sacrificed the important things to place this model as their entry level 1080p DivX DVD player - and to be totally honest it seems more like a midrange machine. If you require USB inputs and extra AV outputs, then look elsewhere....perhaps even Philips models above this one, but if you don't need these extras but still want DivX and upscaled output....you will not go wrong here. I personally have to commend Philips on this machine, as it does all I wanted from it, does it well, and came in at a bargain price. For that I give it five shiny stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 18, 2012 10:01 AM BST


Sony DVPFX720W - 7" Portable DVD Player
Sony DVPFX720W - 7" Portable DVD Player

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a Sony...it does what it should do and does it well., 24 Oct 2008
I originally bought the Toshiba SDP71S from Amazon, but quickly returned it upon learning that it jumped/skipped with a great many home authored DVD's. The Shinco models looked good, but reading reviews it became apparent that they too struggled with various writeable media. So that left me with one choice as far as I was concerned - Sony - the brand you turn to if you want something to do the job well, and do it for many years without breaking.

The DVPFX720W (W for white) looked a class act the moment I took it from the box. Upon loading a disc I was surprised to notice that despite having the same 480x234 resolution as the Toshiba I had returned, it's display was 1000x better, and also better than the previous portable I had owned, a Bush model. The Sony's clarity, colour and contrast were all FAR superior to any 7inch player I had seen in action - perhaps because of the 12bit video DAC this player uses. The sound from the internal speakers was also better than the models I have used in the past as it utilizes a 96 kHz/24bit audio DAC, but like with any portable player, the small speakers pack relatively little bass...and the sound only ever comes into its own on these machines via the use of headphones - and with headphones, especially good quality ones, the sound is very powerful and bassy. DivX and Xvid playback was a dream - I loaded a DVD-RW with 3 DivX films and 3 Xvid films and the machine quickly loaded all six to allow me to choose which I watched first, and all played through without incident. The unit limits the name of DivX/Xvid files to 14 characters in length, but the Toshiba I returned limited them to only 8 characters...so that was also an improvement on what I'm used to. I then tried the full range of DVD+/-R/RW and all played back without incident...happy days! The battery EASILY makes its 5 hours advertised usage when you turn the backlight down and use headphones. The battery is also better than those with my previous players as it doesn't stick out of the back like a sore thumb, but rather attaches perfectly flat to the bottom of the unit...so as not to increase the overall footprint. Note that a five hour capacity takes a five hour charge.

As regards accessories, the Sony DVPFX720 comes with: A 5 hour Li-Poly battery, AC mains cable, 12v car cable charger, AV in/out cable and the obligatory remote control. No carry case/mounting straps or headphones like you get with some brands, but then again other brands don't put all the expense into the actual main device like Sony has here. [Note that Amazon sell portable DVD carry cases with car mounting straps if you really need one]. The outside white sections of the player are made of metal, and the gloss finish is utterly beautiful...quite what you'd expect from Sony. The embossed silver Sony logo on the top completes a very elegant look. On the side there are 2x headphone inputs, an optical audio out socket (optical mini jack adapter needed) and a switchable AV input/output socket. This will allow you to connect the player to a larger screen TV, or monitor output from your other AV devices on the player's small screen, depending on the player's input/output switch position. On the other side of the unit there is a USB input - sadly the manual only states that this is for MP3 and JPEG use....not for DivX files, which is a great shame, as that would have been incredibly handy. I will not be deducting points from the overall score for that, though, as the player's pluses far outweigh this one niggle - and I never even knew it had a USB input until I got it. Overall I think the player fully deserves its five shiny stars. Just buy it.....I can assure you, you will not regret it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 20, 2009 1:04 AM GMT


Toshiba SDP71S- 7" Portable DVD Player with Carry Case
Toshiba SDP71S- 7" Portable DVD Player with Carry Case

68 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NO USE FOR HOME BURNED MEDIA!, 20 Oct 2008
On the surface this looks like a great deal. Top brand, DivX playback, classy design and it comes with TONS of accessories - seriously, it comes with a carry case/car mounting straps, UK 3-pin and Euro 2-pin AC cables, 12v car cable, AV in/out cable, 5 hour battery, Toshiba branded pad-on-ear headphones and the obligatory remote control unit - which is great, as no portable I have previously owned came with that many accessories. But read on for the bad stuff.....

Apart from the fact the unit is VERY noisy in operation, i.e. seeking and reading discs, one of its main failings is that of the display....you can actually see the lines of resolution unless you are some distance from the screen. My last player, a cheap supermarket branded unit, had a better picture than this as regards perceived resolution - yet the colour, contrast and brightness are admittedly better on the Toshiba. But the unit's main failing for me was laser over-sensitivity. Which means while it will read clean, unblemished store bought DVD movies and what-have-you with out fail, it falls flat on its face with the use of home authored media. So anything you want to play that was recorded from your DVD recorder, or movies you have downloaded from the net and burned to disc are VERY susceptible to jumping/skipping, freezing and even causing the unit to reboot itself....or it just gets itself stuck in an endless loop of noisily trying to mount the disc...and failing. Now before you might think it is the media I use, I can assure you it isn't. I use Verbatim and Taiyo Yuden made media, which are recommended as being the best in the business, amongst other high quality brands. I also regularly use Nero's disc quality checker, and all the discs I keep scan with 90-98% quality scores. I can only imagine what would happen should someone try playing cheap brand media, burned at high speeds or, heaven forbid, scratched DVD's. I noticed that rewritable DVD's faired even worse off than single use discs. Of course many discs played through fine....but the rejection rate was FAR TOO MUCH to live with - considering the vast majority of my discs are home recorded media. I should add that I keep all my discs free of scratches and fingerprints....so that is not the problem either. I did manage to test the DivX/Xvid playback, and that was the same issue....on some discs the files played back OK, and on others the laser got too fussy with the disc and jumps, skips or disc rejection quickly ensued. I should note too that it restricts DivX file names to a measly 8 characters in length....which is also quite poor.

Of course, if you're buying the unit solely to use with store bought DVD movies, and you and your family keep your discs in MINT condition, I should imagine you'd be OK. IF you plan to only ever use it with headphones to muffle the lawnmower like noise that is, or you don't mind sitting a good few feet away to account for the display's shortcomings. The reason I have give it 3 stars is because perhaps there are people who could live with its drawbacks. I couldn't, however.

If you want my advice, don't buy it....and search Amazon for the Sony DVPFX720 7inch portable player instead. I bought this upon returning the Toshiba. It comes with the bare amount of accessories (5 hour battery, AC cable, 12V Car cable, AV in/out cable and remote control...no carry case or headphones), and it comes in a choice of white, red, blue or pink colour schemes. The white seems to be cheaper than the others and can be got for just a few quid more than this Toshiba on Amazon. But it's quiet, classy, built to last for years (it's Sony!) and what is more it does what it says on the tin - it plays every disc you throw at it. It is also DivX compliant, and allows for DivX files names of 14 characters in length. The display on the Sony is MILES better too. While it has the same 480x234 resolution spec as the Toshiba, you cannot see the lines across the screen. Perhaps this is down to the Sony using a 12bit video DAC, which is listed in the specs, I don't know....it's just a beautiful quality picture compared to the Toshiba. Trust me....you won't regret it. I certainly don't.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2013 10:52 AM BST


LED Lenser 7831 Key Ring Torch - Silver
LED Lenser 7831 Key Ring Torch - Silver

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrible name, AMAZING product., 21 Aug 2008
First, this should win an award for having a terrible product title/name. 'Key Finder' either conjures up a mental image of one of those beeping devices that indicate where your keys are upon whistling, or it conjures up an image of a very small, very weak 'lock finder' torch. Well, in fact, it is supposed to belong to the latter description; a small torch that fits on your keyring that lights your keyhole late at night. However, this is far more than that. Often such devices use an incandescent bulb....and produce pathetic light levels (think Maglite Solitaire). This BEAUTIFUL little gadget uses a high quality 5mm Nichia LED (Light Emitting Diode), and chucks out what must be about 10 Lumens by my rough estimation and comparison to other LED torches I own. Ten Lumens will light up FAR more than your keyhole... so it can easily be used to navigate your path in the dark, as would a torch many times the size of this little gem. For a 7.1mm length torch, I was truly surprised at its output.

On top of the rather obvious practicality of owning any well made torch, this award winning German designed, precision made instrument is beautifully constructed (this is one of several Led Lenser LED products to win design awards). From engineering to finish, it screams luxury and class. It also comes in a fairly stylish metal gift box complete with batteries. The metal gift box is made of very thin 'tinny' metal, but it is a nice little bonus considering it is only the packaging, thus it makes for a very presentable gift for a friend or relative - and a very practical gift at that. It also makes for a great treat for yourself, which is how I came by my own. Trust me, you will be impressed. And so will everyone you show it to....it brings a guaranteed look of jealousy, and "Where did you get that....I want one?!!!" nearly always follows. Highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2011 7:23 PM BST


Sony KDL26S3000 - 26'' Widescreen Bravia HD Ready LCD TV - With Freeview
Sony KDL26S3000 - 26'' Widescreen Bravia HD Ready LCD TV - With Freeview

349 of 354 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KDL26S3000 Vs KDL26T3000, 4 May 2008
Re: KDL26S3000 Vs KDL26T3000:

As these two similar sets are often compared and pondered over by prospective buyers, I thought it would be good to base this review on their differences, and tell you why I chose this S-series model in the end:

As one reviewer has pointed out, the T-series 'KDL26T3000' is available here on Amazon for a little more money than the S-series 'KDL26S3000' set. I personally used the comparison feature on Sony's website and came away thinking that I'd be happy to pay less for this S-series set, while knowing full well that it has slightly less features than the T-series. The main difference (not mentioned on the Sony site) is that this S-series uses a 'TN' panel and the T-series uses an S-PVA panel. TN panels are the cheapest LCD panels in use, and while I do accept that S-PVA panels have a wider viewing angle (178 vs 160 degrees) and an allegedly 'better' contrast ratio (I will touch on contrast ratios later on), it is an industry recognised fact that they also have a worse response time than TN panels. I think this makes TN panels better for gaming and watching fast moving action. In fact, many LAN party gamers swear by TN panel monitors for this very reason. S-PVA panels also suffer more from colour inversion - as you move your head the colours change. Some people find they don't notice this, or that it doesn't bother them, but I have noticed it on other people's sets/monitors. TN panels suffer this to a much lesser degree.

Also, I view this TV from one position, like most 'bedroom sets' I watch it from my bed - so the slight benefit of extra viewing angle is wasted on me. Besides, I think the viewing angle on this S-series (160 degrees) is perfectly sound...you really have to watch at a stupid angle before the picture grows paler..so there is another extra I need not pay for. Though I must admit, TN panels do have a much poorer vertical viewing angle, so if you like to lie/sit on the floor and look up towards the TV then you would be better off with the T-series and give this 'S' model a skip. The reason being is that if you look up towards the screen on a TN panel from a certain point (very low down), it will darken to the point of being impossible to watch. Luckily for me, I don't sit on the floor.

As for the 'better' contrast ratio on the T-series....well all I will say on this is that the whole contrast ratio numbers game is an industry con. The most common professional and very expensive cinema projector in use today has a 500:1 contrast ratio...this model has both a 800:1 'on screen' contrast ratio and a 6000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Would you be surprised to know that this is perfectly adequate and that all these 20000:1 and such numbers banded about in the industry is a whopping big lie? just Google the famous article 'The Contrast Ratio Game'...it will certainly shock you. So again, the T-series had nothing extra I needed in this respect.

Apart from the different panel technology, the slightly dearer 'T' model includes a digital amplifier for the sound, while the S-series doesn't. Like most big gamers though, I use a dedicated surround system, so again I wasn't motivated to go with the 'T' model - besides, the sound is perfectly fine from this 'S' model set. Both sets use the same Virtual Dolby and BBE ViVA HD3D technology.

Both models also use the 'Bravia Engineİ' technology, unlike the very basic 'U-series' (KDL26U3000) model which you can also find on Amazon, and is often seen as a 'mega deal' in supermarkets. Stay away from this U-series..it is Sony's entry level series and the lack of a Bravia engine processor is a huge negative. The Bravia Engineİ is at the very heart of Sony TV's. It deals with colour reproduction, scaling and all sorts of weird and wonderful things...it is a must have feature. Both 'S' and 'T' include it, 'U' doesn't. This is perhaps the most important thing to remember when shopping for a Bravia TV in this lower price bracket.

So I hope you now have a more informed choice; do the few extras of the T-series set appeal to you? If so, great...for only £30 or so more it is no big deal to take that plunge. But if like me you see that £30 as one more game to buy, or perhaps a couple of Blu-Ray movies, or even an extended warranty on this S-series set, and those T-series extra features don't appeal to you, then go with this S-series model. If you still can't make up your mind, try and get to see both models demonstrated in a store before you make your choice, but I have had my KDL26S3000 for a few days now and I can honestly say to you that it is amazing. I have played upscaled DVD's through it, PS3 games and real HD Blu-Ray movies in 1080i and 720p and I can honestly say they all look absolutely amazing. You will simply not go wrong with the Sony Bravia KDL26S3000, I whole heartedly recommend it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2008 1:41 AM GMT


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