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Appeared on: Thursday, July 29, 2004
Philips DVP720SA

1. Introduction

Philips DVP720SA DVD Player - page 1

Philips develops and manufactures innovative products for all your hi-tech entertainment needs ? home, car audio, multimedia and DJ equipment. By combining cutting-edge technology with sophisticated design, these products can transport you to a world of fun.

This year, Philips has given a new meaning to the phrase ?home cinema?. With the new digital home cinema packages and systems, home entertainment has become extremely attractive and practical. The consumer will immediately become addicted to the effects provided by surround sound and the razor sharp images with vibrant and intense colours. For state-of-the-art DVD, look no further. With new additions in Philips' range, consumers are sure to find just what they want ? from the latest DVD-A/DVD-V/SACD machines to portable DVD players.

The DVP720SA is one of the latest players in Philips' product list. It is an affordable solution for a DVD player with a very large features list.

- Features

Progressive Scan (PAL & NTSC)
Progressive Scan doubles the vertical resolution of the image resulting in a noticeably sharper picture. Instead of sending the field with the odd lines to the screen first, followed by the field with the even lines, both fields are displayed together. A flicker-free, high resolution image is created giving you better viewing quality.

Multi-channel Super Audio CD
This new generation music format gives you:
- Ultra high quality music reproduction
- 5.1 multi-channel surround sound
- Full backward and forward compatibility with CD

Built-in decoders
A built-in DTS and/or Dolby Digital decoder eliminates the need for an external decoder by processing all six channels of audio information to provide an astoundingly natural sense of ambience and dynamic realism. Dolby Pro Logic II provides five channels of surround processing from any stereo source.


Multi-format playability
Multi-format playability allows you to view images in the comfort of your living room and play most dics formats for maximum disc compatibility, viewing and audio pleasure.


DivX® 3.11/4.x/5.x playback
With DivX® support, you will be able to enjoy DivX® encoded videos in the comfort of your living room. The DivX® media format is an MPEG-4 based video compression technology that enables you to save large files like movies, trailers and music videos on media like CD-R/RW, memory cards and DVD-Video. DivX® CDs can be played back on selected DVD players, DVD Recorders and Home Theater Systems.

- Specifications

2. Unpacking

Philips DVP720SA DVD Player - page 2


The European retail package includes the unit, the remote control, two AA/R6P dry cell batteries, power cable and a Scart cable. We would like to see a coaxial cable included as well. Full multilanguage manual and warranty are also included.

Below we can see inside the DVP720SA, after opening the cover, an action which is not recommended since you void the manufacturer's warranty.

Click to enlarge

The following chipset, used in the unit, is manufactured by Mediatek in partnership with DivXNetworks and has the DivX certification.

MediaTek?s chipsets, including the MT1389, are used in over 45% of the world?s DVD players. The DivX Certified? designation of the MT1389 means that it has passed DivXNetworks?s rigorous testing process to confirm that it fully supports videos encoded in the DivX video format, and videos protected with the DivX VOD digital rights management system. The popular DivX video technology, which offers DVD-quality at 7-10 times greater compression than MPEG-2, is often called the ?MP3 of video? and has over 100 million worldwide users. MediaTek will offer the DivX Certified? MT1389 chipset to DVD player manufacturers around the world.

On the back of the player are the audio / video connections. We can find coaxial and optical digital audio outputs as well as the Video and S-Video. For excellent sound, we recommend you use the coaxial output for digital sound, with an A/V 5.1CH (or more) amplifier. Philips offers a wide variety of home theater solutions. One strong feature of the player is the built-in 5.1CH decoder.

Below you can see the component video connections of the player.

The Scart provides quick solution for those who prefer convenience.

The remote control is also included in the retail package. The buttons are placed in a logical sequence, and if you notice that there is no eject button, but instead you'll have to keep the stop button pressed for 2 seconds.

Click to enlarge

3. Control Menu - Page 1

Philips DVP720SA DVD Player - page 3

Control Menu - Page 1

Below are some screenshots of the player's menu. The menu interface is quiet easy and provides numerous options.

4. Control Menu - Page 2

Philips DVP720SA DVD Player - page 4

Control Menu - Page 2

The following screenshots are from MP3 files playback:

The player has a zoom feature during playback:

5. Reading Tests

Philips DVP720SA DVD Player - page 5

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 which directly resemble and correspond to the average user's needs, performing common everyday tasks. Hence, 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 on any common, everyday media.

DVD support

Our Philips DVP720SA was 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.



We connected the DVP720SA through the Scart interface with the corresponding cable, included in the player's package. The player supports the DVD-Video format, so 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 Philips DVP720SA supports DVD±R/RW and DVD-Video playback. 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:

Speed recorded
Philips DRX-500UL v1.0c
Philips DRU-530A v2.0h
Mitsubishi Chemicals DVD+R 4x
Taiyo yuden DVD+R 4x
N-Tech DVD+R 4x
Philips DVD+R 4x
Philips DVR-107D v1.05
NEC ND-2500A v1.06
Maxell DVD+RW 4x
Ritek DVD-R 4x
Mam DVD-R 4x
Plextor DVD+R 4x
Mitsubishi Chemicals DVD-R 4x
Taiyo Yuden DVD-R 4x
Optorite DD0401 v1.30E
Hi-Space DVD-R 4x
Verbatim DVD-R 4x
BTC DRW1008IM v0.55
Philips DVD-R 4x
LiteOn LDW-811S vHS0K
FujiFilm DVD-R 4x
Philips DVDRW885K
NEC ND-2510
BenQ DW-1600A DL
Sony DRU-700A
LiteOn SOHW-832S

The results were nevertheless to be expected from a newly released player like the Philips DVP720SA. 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 Philips DVP720SA did not face any problems reading even the latest 8x DVD±R and 4x DVD±RW discs.

The Philips DVP720SA does not support reading of DVD-ROM discs, even if they contain MPEG-1/2 video files or MP3/WMA files. This is normal for most DVD players since native DVD-ROM format is not supported.

The Philips DVP720SA supports AudioCD, CD-R/-RW, VideoCD and Super-VideoCD playback. The cda files of any audioCD are recognized flawlessly, regardless of whether the disc is factory pressed or is a CD-R/RW. In addition, CD-Text is also supported.

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

In the 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 on 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 a music store, the Philips DVP720SA will not let you down. The discs we tested were "Natalie Impruglia - White Lilies island" protected with Macrovision' Key2Audio system, and "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.

The Philips DVP720SA supports Super AudioCD, a very big advantage for any player. You don't need to be an expert to feel the difference beetween the playback of a normal CD and a SACD.

Let's see now how the player performs with various compressed audio files stored on data CD-R/RW media. Although the specifications of the DVP720SA 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 performance of the player with the various MP3 and WMA files.

Compression type
Compression settings
Recognize / Play
CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Mono
CBR 20kBit 11025Hz Stereo
CBR 32kBit 11025Hz Stereo
CBR 32kBit 22050Hz Mono
CBR 40kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 48kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 48kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 56kBit 22050Hz Mono
CBR 56kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 64kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 96kBit 22050Hz Stereo
CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Mono
CBR 96kBit 44100Hz Stereo
CBR 112kBit 44100Hz Stereo
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 48kbps
WMA 64kbps
WMA 96kbps
WMA 128kbps
WMA 160kbps
WMA 192kbps

The player supports decoding of the most popular CBR and VBR MP3 modes.

Note that the DVP720SA is equipped with a 192 kHz 24 Bit Digital to Analog Converter for audio.

As presented in the player's specifications, both VCD and Super Video CD formats are supported by the player. No problems occured during playback.

The DVP720SA is capable of image playback, not only for Jpeg format.

6. DivX (Mpeg4) Tests

Philips DVP720SA DVD Player - page 6


All of our DivX test files were played successfully with the Philips player. The Xvid files were also recognized and played even though the drive doesn't support them. We did notice several visual glitches and freezes during playback, but as was said, the Philips DVP720SA doesn't officially support this format. We hope that with a firmware upgrade, this can be rectified.

All the DivX versions we tried, v2,3,3.11,4,5.11, played successfully with the Philips player even in the case where the Quarter Pixel was enabled, which produced problems with other players.

7. Error Correction Tests

Philips DVP720SA DVD Player - page 7

Error Correction Tests

Here, we try to simulate one of the most interesting problems faced by the average user while using a DVD player, the reading accuracy of a DVD player when accessing a defective or scratched DVD or CD disc. Of course, the performance of the drive here has to do with the quality/precision of the mechanical parts (Optical Pickup Unit, sufficient servo control, etc) as well as with the drive's reading strategy under abnormal conditions, controlled by the main chipset and firmware commands.

In the case of a reader and especially a high-priced stand-alone reader, we do expect better control during the reading process. We tested the Philips DVP720SA with a number of pressed DVD-Video and AudioCD test discs. The ABEX series from Almedio can provide a good picture of the error correction capabilities of a CD/DVD reader. In addition, we used the SBC444A test disc from Philips and the CD-Check test disc from Digital Recordings.


This is a single-sided, dual layer (S-2 type, OTP) disc with 8.5GB capacity. The disc can be used for checking the layer switching operation from layer1 to layer 0. The disc also includes test pictures and test signals for Dolby Digital, linear PCM (48kHz/24bit, 96kHz/24bit) and others to check for high quality picture and sound. The disc contents is a MPEG-2 NTSC DVD-Video file. Apart from the disc contents, the TCD-545 includes defects on the disc area (black dots and fingerprints). The size of the black dots varies from 0.4mm to 1.0mm. Fingerprints are sized from 0.065mm to 0.075mm.

Although a graphical presentation of the transfer rate when reading the test disc is always enlightening, it is not an easy task when you test a non-PC DVD player. As a result, we used the test disc as a normal DVD-Video disc and checked whether it is recognized and played correctly, with detailed navigation through the tracks and forward/reverse operations. Note that the size of the defects increases as we sequentially play the tracks.

The Philips DVP720SA read the disc successfully, and no skips, picture stills or glitches were noticed. This good behaviour is also prominent amongst most PC DVD recorders/players. We proceed to the next test disc, the Abex TCD-541.

This disc is exactly the same as the Abex TCD-545 tested previously, except that the defect is a scratch of dimensions varying from 0.4mm to 3.0mm, increasing by steps of 0.2mm/step.

The Philips DVP720SA showed very good performance again. All chapters of the DVD-Video were played correctly. Here we should say that not all PC DVD/CD players are able to read the specific disc.


This is an AudioCD disc used for measurement and adjustment of the error correction ability and tracking/focusing servo characteristics of a player against the defects included in some CDs. Three kinds of defects are included on this disc, interruption in information layer, black dots and fingerprints. The interruptions are fabricated by intentionally varying the lengths of pits in the disc fabrication area. Their size varies from 0.5mm to 1.0mm. The diameter of the black dots are sized from 0.4mm to 1.0mm. Last, the simulated fingerprints are small gathered dots, of diameters sized from 65 micro-meters to 75 micro meters. 160pcs of black dots in total, construct the artificial fingerprint.

All audio tracks were played in the Philips DVP720SA deck. No audible read errors (clicks, skips) were reported.

The test concept with the Philips SBC 44A is the same as in the previous test disc. Interruptions on the information layer vary from 400 micrometers to 1000 micrometers, while the black dots have a size of 300 micrometers to 800 micrometers. No audible clicks or skips was noticed during playback, indicating very good performance.

Same contents as with the Abex TCD-726, but different defect. A scratch sized from 0.4mm to 3.0mm is on the disc's surface. Error symptoms expected when playing this disc are noise, sound skips, same sector repeatedly played, start of tune cannot be detected etc.

The Philips DVP720SA managed to play up to track No 9 which has a defect size of 1.8mm. The rest of the songs with larger defects produced audible clicks, albeit low leevel.

We finish this test cycle with the CD-Check disc from Digital Recordings. Five audio signals (5 tracks) in combination with disc error patterns to rate the player's ability to read music and reproduce it completely. The five tracks contain a sequence of progressively difficult tests.

Check level 1 (track 1): Standard manufacturing errors

Check level 2 (track 2): 0.375mm scratch

Check level 3 (track 3): 0.750mm scratch

Check level 4 (track 2): 1.125mm scratch

Check level 5 (track 2): 1.500mm scratch

Any clicks, interruptions or looping during audio reproduction indicate failure of a Check level (audio track). Below you can see the test results:

Check level
Audible clicks

Philips had good behavior with this disc also. The first four tracks were played flawlessly while the last one failed, producing some audible clicks. The overall performance of the DVP720SA in our CD error correction tests is very good.

8. Conclusion

Philips DVP720SA DVD Player - page 8


The DVP720SA is a slim DVD player, with a very attractive front panel and a long list of features. While both the menu inerface is presentable and remote control functional, they are not amongst the best we have seen. There is no eject button on the remote control, and instead users will have to keep the stop button pressed for 2 seconds in order to open the tray, something that most aren't likely to discover easily on their own.

According to our reading tests, the player is capable of reading almost everything. Advanced formats such as DivX, SACD are supported, making this device even better. XVid files are also playable but with some problems. However, keep in mind that the Philips player doesn't officially support this format.

The player managed also to read our new DL media burned with the latest DVD DL recorders available on the market, such as Philips the DVDRW885K, Sony DRU-700A, LiteOn SOHW-832S, NEC ND-2510 and BenQ DW-1600A DL. In all cases, the Booktype setting was set at DVD-ROM. The player won't recognize Double Layer media with DVD+R DL booktype setting.

Error correction is also very good with the Philips player. It managed to playback through many artificial scratches sized 1.8mm for audio and 3.0mm for video.

The player is priced at around €220.00. A very good choice for someone who wants an affordable SACD and DivX player.

- The Good

- Like to be fixed



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