Polaroid DAV-3900 review: Polaroid DAV-3900

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Outstanding value; jewel-like satellites; sizable subwoofer; progressive-scan video output; onscreen setup.

The Bad No DTS surround processing; no video-switching options.

The Bottom Line Polaroid's budget HTIB looks sweet and sounds surprisingly lively.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 7.0

Pricing for fully featured home-theater systems usually starts at around $400, but Polaroid somehow undercut the competition without discarding too much quality. Listed at a superaffordable $249, the DAV 3900 includes a snazzy receiver/DVD player; five tiny, aluminum-clad satellites; and a sizable subwoofer. While the 3900's performance and connectivity aren't quite up to the level of Samsung's bigger, $349 HT-DB600 , the Polaroid delivers great build quality and value for an entry-level kit.

The 3900's space-efficient main unit measures a trim 17 inches wide and 12.5 inches deep. Although it looks exactly like an ordinary DVD player, it also contains a 5.1-channel receiver. The box's build quality and uncluttered face don't hint at the system's oh-so-reasonable price.

Incredibly, the five 4-inch-tall sats and the solidly constructed subwoofer bear a striking resemblance to the models in the 2002 Sony Dream systems, such as the DAV-C450 . The sub is a fairly large beast at 15.5 inches tall, 14 inches deep, and 8.75 inches wide. Polaroid didn't specify the driver sizes.

You can start using the 3900 without delving into the menus or the user manual. In our tests, the kit sounded fine straight out of the box. And thanks to the well-designed onscreen displays, advanced setup was easy, too.

The tidy little remote was also above average. It felt right, and aside from the volume control, all the buttons were well positioned.

The 3900's minimalist feature set at least includes progressive-scan video output. The passive sub gets its juice from the receiver, whose 500-watt power rating seems wildly optimistic.

With three stereo hookups (two inputs, one output), one coaxial and one optical digital-audio in, and a headphone jack with its own volume control, the 3900 gets a passing grade on audio connectivity. Video is more problematic, however. The unit sports component, composite, and S-Video outputs, but because it lacks inputs, you can't use it to toggle between your VCR, DVR, DVD recorder, and cable box. That burden falls to your TV.

The 3900 spins CDs, DVD-Video discs, and the other standard formats, along with all the recordable DVD variations except DVD-RWs. Also welcome are CD-R/RWs and MP3-encoded CDs.

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