Panasonic DVD-RP91 (champagne) review: Panasonic DVD-RP91 (champagne)

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The RP-91 is a flagship progressive-scan DVD player that's particularly well suited for high-end HD-capable TVs.

The Bad Slightly costly; difficult menu system.

The Bottom Line A relatively affordable, top-notch progressive-scan DVD player that's particularly well suited for HD-capable TVs.

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Not long ago, a good progressive-scan DVD player cost at least $1,000. But as with any maturing technology, prices came down, and you can now pick up a primo progressive-scan player such as Panasonic's DVD-RP91 for significantly less. It's still not cheap, but the DVD-RP91 delivers terrific audio and video performance at a relatively reasonable price, and it supports multichannel DVD-Audio to boot. Not long ago, a good progressive-scan DVD player cost at least $1,000. But as with any maturing technology, prices came down, and you can now pick up a primo progressive-scan player such as Panasonic's DVD-RP91 for significantly less. It's still not cheap, but the DVD-RP91 delivers terrific audio and video performance at a relatively reasonable price, and it supports multichannel DVD-Audio to boot.

Video workhorse
Looks-wise, the RP91 is pretty standard fare (it comes in a champagne or black finish), but that's the only humdrum thing about it. For starters, it comes loaded with connectivity options. On the video side, there's one set of outputs for component video, one for S-Video, and two for composite video. It's equally well connected from an audio standpoint, but we'll get to that later.

Because this player's so flexible, we felt obligated to try it out on a couple of different display types. The big test for progressive-scan players is whether they can outperform a TV's internal line-doubler. What does that mean exactly? Well, if you were to hook up a standard (interlaced) player to a high-end TV such as Toshiba's CW34X92 34-inch, direct-view HDTV, the set's internal line-doubler would kick in and sharpen the picture. On the other hand, when you hook up a progressive-scan player to the same set, it overrides the line-doubler. Some progressive-scan players do a better job than the line-doubler; some don't.

Needless to say, the DVD-RP91 handily outperformed the Toshiba's line-doubler, delivering a much sharper image with virtually no artifacts. The colors in Shakespeare in Love, for example, appeared extremely rich and saturated.

How does the Panasonic perform on standard 4:3 analog TVs? Well, when you play an anamorphic (often referred to on the box as Enhanced for Widescreen TVs) DVD, the player does create some artifacts, due to this player's anamorphic down-conversion process. Therefore, it's not a good match for lower-end, standard 4:3 analog sets. However, the RP91 works great with 16:9 wide-screen, HDTV-capable TVs, as well as 4:3 HDTV-capable TVs with anamorphic aspect-ratio capability, such as Sony's WEGA direct-view sets with the "enhanced for 16:9" feature.

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Where to Buy

Panasonic DVD-RP91 (champagne)

Part Number: DVD-RP91N
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Media Type DVD-RAM
  • Type DVD player
  • Sound Output Mode Surround Sound