Thursday, July 24, 2008

Building My Home Theater Part 1: DivX Ultra Players

I've been doing a bit of research lately on DVD players with DivX Ultra support for my upcoming home theater at the house we're building. I was previously looking at the Philips DVP5982 and was thinking of asking a friend to buy it for me from the US and send it over via balikbayan box since I haven't seen it sold locally. But when I went to Western Appliance this Sunday, I was surprised to see several other low-cost Philips model already available locally and on display.

The Philips DVP5166k was on sale for a measly Php2,990. The sales guy said he can probably give me an extra discount and round it down to Php2,900. Just add Php910 for a 3-year warranty. Its a very standard DivX Ultra player with no fancy HDMI support. I'm partial to getting a DVD player with HDMI output support already.

The sales guy told me that the DVP5166k is being phased out already, thats why its on sale. The upcoming models that will replace it look interesting: the DVP5286K (PHP4,990 SRP) and the DVP3980K (PHP3,990 SRP). Both are capable of 1080i/p upscaling already; come with HDMI interfaces; plays all sorts of media (CD, DVD+/-R, etc.); supports the usual audio formats (WMA and MP3 -- but not AAC); have karaoke scoring features; and playback of still JPEG images.

1080p support is good because I plan to eventually buy a Samsung Full 1080p HD TV. But for the purpose of the home theater, it probably would not matter since the Mitsubishi projector (more on that in future blog entries) that it will connect to, can only go up to 720p and 1080i (not 1080p). For those interested in 1080i vs. 1080p debates, here are some consumer reviews talking about it. For most general DVD movies which are shot at 24 frames per sec, you probably would not be able to tell the difference. But perhaps in the future if high-definition becomes the norm and all movies are shot at 30fps or higher, then MAYBE you will see a difference between interlaced (i) and progressive (p) scanning.

The site lists that the DVP5286K supports DivX 4, 5 & 6, aside from Ultra. The DVP3980K only lists DivX Ultra. Hmmm... doesn't it follow that if you support DivX Ultra, you also support the older DivX versions (4 to 6)?

The DVP5286K supports playing of DivX directly from the flash drive via its high-speed USB 2.0 interface. Not sure how important a feature that is. I was previously commenting though why my Philips DVD3455H could not play DivX media files from USB even though it could from CD or DVD. The Pioneer sales guy at Western was also highlighting that feature for his Pioneer DV600AVS which costs Php6,790 (quite expensive compared to Philips although he kept saying that their service support is better because Pioneer has local service centers whereas Philips just rely on 3rd party authorized service centers).

The DVP5286K also boasts that it can "rip" your music CD's to mp3 and send the ripped version directly to your flash drive. It can even do so on-the-fly while you are listening to the audio CD. Again, not sure how big a deal that is unless you don't have a modern day PC.

Other than that, there doesn't seem to be that much big difference between the two. I guess I will have to wait a couple more months for these models to become widely available.

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