Nu Technology proudly claims that the CinePlayer PDP100 ($135 list price) is the slimmest standalone DVD player in the world, and that claim is probably true. The CinePlayer PDP100 is only 0.71 inch thick and just slightly larger than the actual size of a DVD, putting so-called "slimline" DVD players to shame. The design is certainly striking, but as you might imagine, there are tradeoffs. There's no HDMI output, and even component video requires a breakout cable that's sold separately. There's also no room for analog multichannel outputs or even a coaxial digital audio output, so hopefully you have a spare optical input on your receiver or don't mind stereo analog audio. Still, even with these drawbacks, the PDP100 is a compelling player, as its small size, PAL output, and gaggle of power outlet adapters make it an excellent international travel companion--although you could always buy a portable DVD player and get a screen and battery power in the bargain. The PDP100 can't compete with upscaling standalone players in performance or features, but it's a good option for travelers or those who need (or want) an extremely small DVD player.
One of the flat sides of the PDP100 has a reflective, mirrorlike finish (which is why the product image looks a little strange), while the other side has a standard white finish. As we mentioned before, the PDP100 is only 0.71 inch thick, and it measures 5.91 inches wide and 6.42 inches deep. You can position the player on the included stand for vertical positioning, or just lay it flat on its side. If you're really into the PDP100's design, you can even buy a wall mount ($30) to display it next to your flat-panel HDTV. With no front panel controls, you'll definitely want to make sure the remote doesn't go missing. Unlike standard standalone DVD players, there is no DVD tray and discs are loaded via the same kind of slot-loading mechanism found on Mac laptops or the Nintendo Wii. The mechanism works fine, although you have to push the disc almost all the way into the player before it pulls it in on its own, which feels a little strange.
Like almost all DVD players, the PDP100 plays standard DVDs and can pass their Dolby Digital and DTS surround soundtracks to a compatible AV receiver via its optical output. It can downmix Dolby Digital soundtracks to a stereo PCM signal if you don't want surround sound. In addition to DVDs, the PDP100 can also play CDs and DVDs with DivX files on them, as well as MP3s and JPEGs.
We started off our performance test by looking at Silicon Optix's HQV test suite, using the component video output in progressive-scan (480p) mode. Although the component cable ($13 list price) isn't included with the player, we used it for our testing because S-Video and composite video output of DVD players is largely the same. We weren't expecting much from the PDP100, and we weren't surprised. It failed the initial resolution test, which means that it cannot display all the detail that DVD has to offer. It also did rather poorly on the jaggies tests, displaying more jaggies on test patterns than we see on any of the more expensive upconverting DVD players we test. Moving on to a 2:3 pull-down test, the PDP100 also came up short, showing very noticeable moire in the grandstands behind the speeding race car.
We also took a quick look at some program material to confirm what we saw in the test patterns. The introduction to Seabiscuit is a torture test for video processing and, sure enough, the opening sequence of black-and-white photos had some jaggies. Honestly, we were expecting worse considering its failures on the test patterns, and we've actually seen more expensive players perform more poorly on this sequence. We also tossed in Star Trek: Insurrection and confirmed that the player does in fact have 2:3 pull-down processing, despite failing the harder HQV test. We also took a look at Aeon Flux, and the PDP100 stumbled on rendering the long cables present during Chapter 9--instead of smooth lines, there was moire and jaggies. On other less-demanding scenes, however, the PDP100 did an acceptable job.
We could go on and on about how the PDP100 doesn't satisfy tougher image quality tests, but ultimately it's not designed to offer excellent performance. As a DVD player for traveling or for those unconcerned about image quality, it does an acceptable job and should meet expectations. Those interested in better performance should consult our Editors' top DVD players and recorders list.