The XV-N55SL is a progressive-scan DVD player that sits at the middle of JVC's line of single-disc models. Despite some promising features, this $170 (list price) player has some issues that should give potential buyers pause.
DVD players have been slimming down for the past few years, and at less than two inches high, the N55 is one of the flattest we've seen. The unit comes in both black (the) and silver (the XV-N55SL). Its angular face has a bright-blue neon bar directly under the centered disc tray and an informational LCD to the left. Fortunately, the distracting lights can be dimmed or turned off by a couple of clicks on the medium-size remote, which is well proportioned but overly crowded with buttons. Also, its disc-transport keys glow in the dark, and it can control many brands of televisions.
The XV-N55SL includes the standard DVD audio and video connections along with both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs. The component-video outputs toggle between interlaced and progressive-scan modes via the remote or a switch on the player's back end, and a handy green LED on the player's face indicates whether it's in progressive mode.
Disc compatibility is a strong suit, and our test DVD-R/RWs, DVD+R/RWs, and VCDs booted up with ease. The player's well-designed folder and file navigation makes playing CD-based MP3 and WMA files a snap, though like most DVD players, the N55 lacks a shuffle function for digital music. Playback of photo discs is also painless, with JPEGs loading in a quick one to two seconds. The player must be manually set to music or picture disc modes, so viewing data on mixed-media CDs involves a trip to the setup menu.