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Home > Hardware Reviews > Consumer Electronics

Monday, March 29, 2004
Sony DVP-NS330

3. Reading Tests

Sony DVP-NS330 DVD Player - page 3

Reading Tests

When it comes to a DVD player, the main focus lies in the reading performance of the device. Technical performance tests could include detailed testing of the performance of the player with various video and audio input signals (MPEG-1 /2 Video/Audio, VBR High/Low switch, CBR, AC-3 implementation, LPCM multichannel audio, A/V synchronization navigation commands, transitions etc). However, such detailed testing is out of the scope of this review in an attempt to offer testing procedures directly resembling the average user's needs performing the usual, everyday tasks. Thus, the performance of the DVD player can be described in terms related to reading speed, reading accuracy, compatibility with various CD/DVD recordable/rewritable formats as well as data/audio playback support, stored in any common medium.

DVD support
  • DVD-Video

The Sony DVP-NS330 we have in our hands is a region-2 drive, which means that the player is able to decode (play) only the pressed DVD-Video discs coming from the European region. However, the player is widely available in the European market through retailers as region-free, meaning that you will be able to use it with any disc regardless of the regional restrictions applied on it.

The next question would be whether the player supports both PAL and NTSC transmission formats. The answer is yes, although the player is already restricted to region 2, so it originally supports the PAL transmission format used throughout Europe. Unlike some multi-regional players, the DVP-NS330 has an internal transcoder that will automatically modulate the source signal to a derivative of PAL or NTSC. Of course, the player will recognize only the region 2 NTSC DVD-Video discs. What we would like from Sony is to make this feature adjustable through the setup menu, in order for users to manually set it to PAL, NTSC or to Auto select.

In case you have purchased a modified (multi-region 1-6) DVP-NS330, you must refer to your supplier in order see whether the modification covers the PAL/NTSC issue.

It is important to realize that to play a region 1 disc you require that your television be capable of handling the NTSC 3.58MHz signal (North American broadcast system). A Multi-Region player will allow you access discs from all over the world but your television in turn must be able to support the different transmission standards (PAL/SECAM/NTSC). When choosing a player and you know that your television doesn't have the ability to play NTSC 3.58, look for the Pal 60 ability in the specifications. In case you get a black & white picture despite the PAL/NTSC switch, you should try to resolve the problem through the DVD player's setup. Choose the Video option and set the player to output RGB to the television, ensuring that you are using Scart # 1 from the player to Scart #1 of the television. As a second thought, user can check for any switch located on the back panel of the player, or in the setup menu options.

We connected the DVP-NS330 through the Scart interface with the corresponding cable, which was unfortunately not included in the player's package. Of course, the player supports the DVD-Video format. We recorded a 4.35GB DVD-Video file on various DVD+R/-R, DVD-RW/+RW media. The recorders we used are some of the latest dual-format available on the PC market, as well as some 1st generation recorders. Pressed single / dual layer DVD-Video discs were also included in the test. Here, we remind you that the Sony DVP-NS330 supports DVD±R/RW and DVD-Video playback. However, the player does not support the Variable Recording (VR) mode for DVD-R/-RW. VR Recording offers extensive editing features and the user is able to select from among the different picture quality settings. However, such discs are only playable on "RW compatible players", and this recording mode is not available on PC recorders we used for this test. All the test discs were created with the same PC /software in the DVD-Video mode.

We checked the player's disc recognition as well as smooth navigation and playback. The results were very impressive, since all the discs were read completely. See the drives and media we used in the table below:

Recorder
Media
Speed recorded
Recognition
Playback
Sony DRX-500UL v1.0c
TDK DVD+RW 2.4x
2.4x
OK
Sony DRU-530A v2.0h
Mitsubishi Chemicals DVD+R 4x
4x
Taiyo yuden DVD+R 4x
4x
N-Tech DVD+R 4x
4x
Philips DVD+R 4x
4x
Pioneer DVR-107D v1.05
JVC DVD-R 8x
8x
MKM DVD+R 8x
8x
CMC DVD-R 4x
4x
CMC DVD+R 4x
4x
NEC ND-2500A v1.06
JVC DVD-RW 4x
4x
Maxell DVD+RW 4x
4x
Ritek DVD-R 4x
4x
Mam DVD-R 4x
4x
TDK DVD-R 4x
4x
Plextor DVD+R 4x
8x
Mitsubishi Chemicals DVD-R 4x
8x
Taiyo Yuden DVD-R 4x
8x
Optorite DD0401 v1.30E
MKM DVD+R 8x
8x
Hi-Space DVD-R 4x
4x
Verbatim DVD-R 4x
4x
BTC DRW1008IM v0.55
Pioneer DVD-R 4x
4x
LiteOn LDW-811S vHS0K
FujiFilm DVD-R 4x
4x
Single layer pressed DVD-Video (4.7GB)
-
-
Dual layer pressed DVD-Video (8.5GB)
-
-

The results were nevertheless to be expected from a newly released player like the Sony DVP-NS330. A DVD player offers limited features by its own nature, meaning that it lacks the DVD recording capabilities and advanced video authoring/editing features found on DVD recorders. Thus, reading reliability as well as compatibility are the key factors which will encourage most users to run out and buy a player. What is really interesting in our case is that the Sony DVP-NS330 did not face any problems reading even the latest 8x DVD±R and 4x DVD±RW discs.

  • DVD-ROM

The Sony DVP-NS330 does not support reading of DVD-ROM discs, even if they hold MPEG-1/2 video files or MP3/WMA files. This is usual for most DVD players since native DVD-ROM format is not supported.

  • CD support

The Sony DVP-NS330 supports AudioCD, CD-R/-RW, VideoCD and Super-VideoCD playback. The *.cda files of any audioCD are recognized flawlessly, even when the disc is factory pressed or is a CD-R/RW. In addition, CD-Text is supported.

In our case, when talking about data CD (CD-R/-RW), we refer to either audio compressed audio files (MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis..) or pure *.wav files, or to VideoCD and Super VideoCD.

  • AudioCD

In case of pressed AudioCDs the player recognizes and plays all the tracks, offering additional features such as CD-Text reading and navigation between tracks, as already mentioned in the previous page. This also applies to CD-R and CD-RW discs. The device played audio files of the CD-R, 10x HS-RW, 24x US-RW and 32x US-RW discs we inserted in the disc tray.

In addition, no problems were noticed when we played 8cm CD-R/-RW (185MB), 90/99min CD-R as well as CD business cards, as long as they are round shaped. The player's tray is not designed to accept any other media shapes, as is sometimes the case with smart cards or business cards.

For anyone that has purchased any protected audio discs from your music store, Sony DVP-NS330 will not let you down. The discs we tested were "Natalie Impruglia - White Lilies island" protected with Macrovision' Key2Audio system, and the the "Celine Dion - A New Day Has Come" protected with Cactus Data Shield 200. Both titles were recognized and played flawlessly. After all, those protection schemes are designed to discourage PC users from copying them and as such are not playable on PCs only.

  • Super AudioCD

The Sony DVP-NS330 does not support Super AudioCD.

  • Compressed Audio (data CD)

Let's see now how the player reacts to various compressed audio files stored on data CD-R/RW. Although the specifications of DVP-NS330 clearly indicate MP3 support, it is not sure whether the drive can handle all MP3 compression modes. CBR or VBR encoding mode and variations in the sampling rate could be hard for any reader to decode. Below is available the reaction of the player to various MP3 and WMA files.

Compression type
Compression settings
Recognize / Play
MP3
CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Mono
No
CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Stereo
CBR 32kBit 11025Hz Stereo
CBR 32kBit 22050Hz Mono
CBR 40kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 48kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 48kBit 44100Hz Mono
Yes
CBR 56kBit 22050Hz Mono
Yes
CBR 56kBit 44100Hz Mono
No
CBR 64kBit 22050Hz Stereo
No
CBR 96kBit 22050Hz Stereo
Yes
CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Mono
Yes
CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Stereo
No
CBR 112kBit 44100Hz Stereo
Yes
CBR 128kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 128kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 160kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 192kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 224kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 256kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 320kBit 44100Hz Stereo
VBR - High compression
VBR - Highest compression
VBR - Low compression
VBR - Lowest compression
VBR - Medium compression

Windows Media Audio

(WMA)

WMA 48kbps
No
WMA 64kbps
WMA 96kbps
WMA 128kbps
WMA 160kbps
WMA 192kbps
WAV
WAV

The player supports decoding of the most popular CBR and VBR MP3 modes. All the files sampled at 44.1 KHz CBR were playable despite the quantization resolution (112-320 Kbits). An exception to this was the 96kBit Stereo and the 56kBit Mono files, which were not recognized. It appears that the player is rather picky with lower sampling rates.

In case you are keen on using the WMA format for your audio files, the player will disappoint you. In addition, we were surprised the device did not accept the uncompressed *.wav audio files.

Note that the DVP-NS330 is equipped with a 192 kHz 24 Bit Digital to Analog Converter for audio.

  • VCD/SVCD

As presented in the player's specifications, both VCD and Super Video CD formats are supported by the player. The discs are recognized and played by the drive without any particular problems.




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