Now that almost all DVD players offer progressive scan, it's tougher for budget DVD players to differentiate themselves, especially when they're priced within $10 to $20 of each other. The Norcent DP-220 attempts to distinguish itself from the rest of the budget pack by offering support for the DivX compressed video format and a nearly rock-bottom price tag. All in all, the DP-220--which can be had for less than $50--holds up pretty well in our tests, though the ride isn't completely smooth.
The DP-220 features a superslim design, measuring just 2 by 14.2 by 9 inches (HWD). The front panel is graced by only two small LEDs: one to indicate whether the unit's on, and one to show that it's playing. There's also a few basic transport controls on the front, as well as the power button. The included remote is small and light, but we found it easy to use.
As for connectivity, it's what you'd expect at this price: basic but adequate. On the video side, you get component, S-Video, and composite outputs. Audio jacks are limited to standard analog outputs and a digital coaxial out--no optical connection. The DP-220 is able to output Dolby Digital surround sound via the coaxial connection to similarly equipped A/V receivers, but soundtrack sticklers will bemoan the lack of DTS compatibility.
Compatible with a full range of disc types, the DP-220 had no problem playing the bulk of our test discs, including DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-R, MP3 CDs, and JPEG picture discs; only a handful of our more difficult DVD-RWs caused problems. Also, in a few rare instances, a disc caused the player to hang, which required the DP-220 to be unplugged and plugged back in again.
The DP-220 also supports DivX playback, though playback is a little spotty. While we found it capable of playing back DivX files on both CD-Rs and DVD+Rs, one file was extremely distorted to point where it was unwatchable, and another suffered from some audio dropouts. The same files and discs played smoothly on the , so we have some reservations about the DP-220's DivX playback capabilities.
For a budget player, the DP-220 performed competently in our video tests. The 220's 2:3 pull-down processing was evident in the opening sequence of the Star Trek: Insurrection DVD, and the player performed adequately during some of the more difficult 2:3 stress tests on the Windows DVD Test Annex. In fact, the DP-220 passed most of the others tests on the Windows DVD, falling short on a few flag tests that come into play on only poorly authored DVDs. Anamorphic downconversion was also good, showing very little undulation and jaggies in 4:3 mode, which is good news if you have a non-wide-screen TV.
If you're looking for a reliable DivX player and can afford to spare a few more bucks, you might want to look at such DivX-compatible players as the or the Yahoo YDP-530. However, if you're just looking for an inexpensive progressive-scan player, the Norcent DP-220 performs well, given its price.