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JVC XV-N50 review: JVC XV-N50

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The XV-N55SL packs a few nice extras. It can automatically resume from the last location on 30 discs, and it features a powerful 64X zoom function. Of greater use are the picture presets and adjustments, so you can customize an array of video-output settings on the player rather than the TV.

Video performance on the XV-N55SL was a disappointment. The player exhibited problems on the opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection, where the horizontal panning motion introduced a noticeable stuttering effect. The scene also revealed the N50's poor implementation of 3:2 pull-down, later confirmed by the nasty stair-stepping artifacts evident on several test patterns of the Video 2000 disc. Toggling to any of the player's three manual video-processing modes only aggravated the problems. Curiously, unlike its predecessor, the JVC XV-S502SL, the N55 doesn't have aspect-ratio control, so owners of HDTVs who can't resize nonanamorphic source material are out of luck. The N55's worst offense: It locked up twice during our testing and had to be restarted.

Sadly, the XV-N55SL's good looks are only skin-deep. DVD fans seeking superior performance in a bargain-priced player should instead consider either the Sony DVP-NS325 or--for progressive-scan playback at the same price--the Panasonic DVD-S55S.

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