Friday, May 29, 2009

"Philips Carnival 2009" WHS Hoots Part II: Electronics

After Day 1 of WHS hoots at "Philips Carnival 2009", I checked out the prices of their Micro HiFi, Home Theater Systems and DVD Players at major electronics retail outlets. I felt the urgency to go back for some more hoots! I had earlier wanted to pick up a DVD Player for my home, I thought I should just grab HTIB for my folks' place as well.

PHILIPS HTS3021 DVD Home Theater System
S$179 (R.P.: >S$200)
The cheapest 5.1 HTIB (Home Theater in a Box) available at the carnival came down from S$199 on the second day. It is a no frills HTIB with 5 identical speakers (2 front, 2 surround and 1 center) and a subwoofer. The system is all plug-&-play and sets up easily. The main console is a DVD player that plays back the usual formats and projects the sound out to the attached 5.1CH speakers. The neat feature of this DVD player is that it supports USB2.0 with playback of JPEG, MP3, WMA, DivX and XviD formats. This means that I can plug a USB thumbdrive or a portable HDD* containing all my picture files, music files and .avi video files, and enjoy them on my HDTV with 5.1CH sound. I tried playing back Prison Break and Criminal Minds (HD format) via the thumbdrive, the quality is double thumbs up (with a little M1 Ad's head-knocking going "du-du"). The sound output is available in Stereo (L & R speakers projection only), 5.1CH Stereo (equal distribution of sound across all speakers and subwoofer), Dolby Digital Surround (all 5 speakers playing their respective channels with subwoofer playing the low frequency and crossovers). Though the sound quality from these mini speakers were not comparable to those from LG's HTIB (tuned by Mark Levinson), but they suffice for non-audiophiles like my folks. Another feature of this console is the FM radio capability.
The downside of this console is the lack of a HDMI output, making it messy with all the speaker cables and analog videocables sticking out from the rear. There is also no need for a HDMI port, since this player does not support HD (720p/1080i) upscaling. Hence, I will probably get a less beautiful image on a Full HD LCD TV.
The drawback of a HTIB is that if the disc player conks off, the speakers are rendered useless. Nevertheless, the prices of HTIB has come down over the years, making them easily replaceable.
*portable HDD requires its own external power source i.e. 3.5" external HDD.

PHILIPS DVP3350K/98 DVD Player
S$59 (R.P.: >S$60)
Not the cheapest DVD Player available at the carnival but is the cheapest model with a USB2.0 port. This DVD Player is similar to that of the HTS3021 HTIB which I have bought. It plays DVD, VCD, Audio CD as well as JPEG, DivX, MP3 and WMA formats from any USB2.0 mass storage device. It does not have a HDMI cable as it does not support HD upscaling, hence it comes with only component or analog video output. It gives an option to output sound via optical. I could have scored another model DVP6620/98 DVD Player (going for S$69) which support HD upscaling and with HDMI output, but lacks a USB port. I thought a USB2.0 port would be a more attractive feature. Nevertheless, the DVP6620/98 was sold out before the second day of the carnival.
I would recommend going for higher end models such as DVP3388K/98 which is basically this model with added HD (1080p) upscaling to deliver the clearest Standard Definition videos on your HDTV, HDMI output and WMV file support. But mind you, DVD players with these specifications can easily come close to S$100 or more.

Nowadays, having a USB2.0 support on your HDTV or DVD Player is essential to make sharing of JPEG files such as travel pictures with friends and family, be it from a thumbdrive or camera/videocam direct. Having DivX support is a bonus for those who do plenty of downloading, ripping or encoding video files. If you have extra moolah, check out the latest Samsung Series 8 and above models which have DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support which streams files wirelessly from your PC via a wireless router! Otherwise, if you are those who just wish to watch a DVD, any cheap DVD player from the supermarkets will do. These cheap electronics breakdown easily after their expired warranty, but they are also priced to be easily replaceable.

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