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Product Review - Pioneer DVD-525 DVD Player - June, 2000

Brian Weatherhead
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Pioneer DVD-525 DVD Player

Features DD and DTS, Component Video-Out

Size: 4" H x 16" W x 11" D     

Weight: 6 Pounds     

MSRP: $425 USA

 

Pioneer Electronics Corporation; Web http://www.pioneerelectronics.com 

Introduction

This Pioneer DVD player is Pioneer’s entry level unit. At an MSRP of $425 and a street price of $250, it’s a bargain. It has many of the features that many other expensive players have, yet doesn’t break the bank. There are a few features that are essential for any home theater DVD player, and this Pioneer unit doesn’t fall short:

Built-In Decoders

The 525 has DD and DTS digital out, but no 5.1 analog out. So, for DD and DTS listening, your receiver must have DD and DTS decoding. Most newer receivers have both DD and DTS decoders built-in. The 525 also has the ability to play Video CD (VCD) and Audio CDs. It supports up to 96 kHz audio and has 24 bit DACs on the audio. On the video side are 10 bit DACs.

Appearance

As usual, the Pioneer face is fairly smooth, with very few controls cluttering up the front of the player. The essential control buttons (play, stop, eject, etc.), and the power button are the only controls present on the face plate, leaving almost everything to the remote. The LCD display on the player is very nice, and complements the rest of Pioneers equipment with an amber LCD color. There are indicators for Dolby Digital, Angle, and the Main display section will display the disc type that has been inserted (Audio, DVD, VCD).

Performance

I have had the player in use for several months and have no complaints. I will comment that when the player switches between layers on a DVD, there is a small (1/2 sec) pause in the playback. This pause can be seen in larger movies like “The Matrix.” However, pauses are normal for most players, it seems. The picture quality is first rate, there are no noticeable artifacts on the screen, and the component outputs work beautifully. The S-Video connection is also very nice, but I noticed a small loss in color detail compared to component video, which is to be expected. I tested the video with a 36” Sony Wega XBR, so that I could utilize both the component and S-Video outputs from the DVD player.               

Features

The 525 has an on-screen setup menu. This makes it really easy to set the preferences of the DVD player. You can select the default play options for DVDs, and you can also set the specific play back methods and options. One of my favorite options is the feature icon display. This feature will display an icon in the upper portion of the screen when a DVD has advanced features such as multiple view angles. This makes exploring DVD’s a breeze. Sample on-screen menus are shown below.

The DVD player lets you set the TV screen type that you have and lets you view DVDs in different ways. This is handy if you have a letter box TV (16:9) and the DVD is letterbox but recorded with the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. The DVD player can modify the playback to fill the screen (zoom). You can also set the DVD player to crop the ends on a letter box movie for play on a standard set, or to just play the DVD, unmodified. So, for those of you who hate widescreen, here is a way for you to get full screen with no black bars.

You can change the language of the setup screen and the background color to taste. The remote (shown below) has all the features of the DVD player, including the stop-still features. You can access the chapters and the DVD menu system very easily. The remote is compact and very light.

The unit has all the standard connections on the rear panel (diagram shown above): Digital Coax, Fiber (Toslink Optical), Component, and Composite. The panel is laid out nicely, with the power cord far away from the rest of the connections. The Pioneer control allows the use of the multi-room receiver features. Foreign DVD players have a NTSC/PAL selection. The Video Select switch changes between the Composite/S-Video to the component outs. There is also a Stereo Audio out, which is nice when a decoding receiver is absent. Now that you can get DD/DTS receivers at Price Club for pocket change, the two-channel out will only be useful for playing CDs though.

Conclusion

This Pioneer 525 DVD Player is a very good unit. The layer pause is the only complaint I could find, but I don't think any player changes instantaneously, notwithstanding the demo that manufactures gave at a CES several years ago. The menu system is very clear, and the user manual very accurate. If you are looking for a entry level player, with many of the features of the more expensive units, look at this one. Also note that Pioneer has a deal where you can get 5 free DVDs when you purchase this player, making this a VERY attractive deal for someone who wants to start out. As of now the movies include "Analyze This", "Get Shorty", "Fools Rush In", "The Mask", and "The Jackal Collectors Edition".

- Brian Weatherhead -

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