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Philips DVP5960/37 review: Philips DVP5960/37

Philips DVP5960/37

Matthew Moskovciak Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater
Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.
Matthew Moskovciak
5 min read
main content
Editors' Note: We've adjusted the rating to bring it the DVP5960/37 line with recent upscaling DVD players.

HDMI-equipped DVD players have suddenly become commonplace this year, to the point where they don't cost much more than a generic DVD player you'd pick up at Wal-Mart. The Philips DVP5960/37 is one good example, going for less than $80 online. For that price, you get HDMI and upscaling to higher resolutions, DivX playback, and one of the slimmest, most stylish exteriors we've seen.


Philips DVP5960/37

The Good

Relatively inexpensive; HDMI upconversion to 720p, 576p, and 1080i; DivX compatibility with decent playback performance; mostly solid video quality; front USB port for digital photos and music; ultraslim styling.

The Bad

Annoying shift bug causes some black bars on movies; 576p mode is close to unwatchable; no S-Video output.

The Bottom Line

The Philips DVP5960/37 HDMI-upscaling DVD player is an excellent choice for budget-conscious HDTV owners and multimedia aficionados, and its DivX playback is a nice bonus.

The Philips DVP5960/37 has a design that's as eye-catching as its name is annoying. The player stands just 1.5 inches tall, and even its disc drawer is shallower to take up less height. We liked the reflective silver faceplate and the conveniently large LED display. There are several front-panel buttons, including standby, HD upscale (which toggles through resolutions), play/pause, and stop. One notable omission is fast-forward or rewind controls, which can be useful in a pinch when the remote goes missing. There's also a USB port on the front, which can be used to display JPEGs and DivX files as well as to play back MP3 files, from a USB thumbdrive.

Philips's remote is small and not backlit, and it has some nonintuitive controls. For example, the directional pad's right and left buttons also control fast-forward and rewind, which is unusual and not labeled. However, after a couple seconds of confusion, we found it easy enough to use.

Connectivity-wise, the Philips's big selling point is its HDMI output. As with all HDMI decks, it has the ability to upconvert DVDs: in this case to 576p, 720p, or 1080i resolution. Upconversion may result in slightly sharper DVD images on some HDTVs, but it won't work miracles--they're still DVDs, after all. The rest of the connectivity options are made up of a component-video output, a standard composite-video output, and an optical audio output. While a case could be made about the deck missing an S-Video and coaxial audio output, we're betting that most people buying this player are planning to use the HDMI or component-video connection.

In our tests, we found that disc compatibility was good; the DVP5960/37 struggled with only a few of the more difficult discs. It was successfully able to play MP3s stored on a DVD, as well as CDs and DVDs with DivX files on them. The DivX files played back smoothly and did not suffer from any of the lip-sync issues we've noticed on other players.

The Philips DVP5960 excelled at some video-quality tests but fell short during others. For example, resolution tests from the Silicon Optics HQV test suite looked very sharp in 1080i mode and only slightly softer in 720p and 480p. The player also did well with the 2:3 pull-down processing test, taking about a half a second to kick into film mode. However, it struggled on other important jaggies tests, with significant jagged edges visible on the moving lines.

One constant to note throughout the tests is that the 576p mode always looked significantly worse than any other resolution and had an unwatchable amount of judder on the TVs we tested. This was evident in actual movies we watched as well as in test patterns, and we suggest using 1080i, 720p, or 480p instead. We found 1080i looked best with the Dell W3706MC, for example, but your mileage will vary depending on your television. In general, we recommend you set the Philips's output to the resolution that most closely matches your HDTV's native resolution.

We observed an annoying shift issue that seems to affect some upscaling HDMI players. We first noticed this on the Sony DVP-NS70H, and it consists of a small black bar, either on the top or the bottom of the screen, when we watched in 720p or 1080i mode. It appeared on numerous fixed-pixel HDTVs in our lab. On the Philips DVP5960/37, we noticed it on the bottom, and although it was only a few pixels high, it still shouldn't be there. If you're the kind of person that really gets irked when the picture doesn't completely fill the screen, you may want to think twice about this player, but we'd bet most people wouldn't even notice.

The Philips DVP5960/37 also successfully rendered the opening sequence to Star Trek: Insurrection, proving it has 2:3 pull-down processing. The boats' hulls had smooth curved lines, as did the railing on the bridge, but we felt that they didn't look quite as good as those from some other HDMI upscaling players we've reviewed, such as the DVP-NS70H. The DVP5960/37 also displayed some chroma bug issues when we went through the Windows Test Annex, with combing visible in the red along the edge of the moving fish. This isn't a major problem, since it should only be apparent on poorly authored DVDs. The chroma bug was present with every resolution except 576p; we still recommend avoiding that resolution, however.

We also tested the front-panel USB port with a 1GB thumbdrive and a variety of MP3, JPEG, and DivX files. While the rudimentary file browser displays only the first few characters of filenames and shows a mere four files/folders at once, it functions perfectly well. The MP3 player includes a shuffle mode, and ID3 artist, title, and genre information appear onscreen but not on the front-panel display. And while the unit can certainly display HD-resolution JPEG photos via its HDMI output--we tested it with a few large (2,576x1,932) shots from a 5-mexapixel camera, and they looked great on an HDTV--it's not much use for a slide show. That's because each image takes about 20 seconds to be revealed, slowly drawing on the screen from the top down. Reducing the resolution didn't improve the situation. Finally, the Philips handled DivX movie playback from the thumbdrive well, acting exactly as if the file originated from a disc.

Overall, the Philips DVP5960/37 is a decent performer that passed most of our tests with aplomb, and its image quality should satisfy most viewers. Its feature set, especially the front-panel USB port for quick multimedia access, caters to multimedia buffs. Given its low price, this slick Philips DVP5960/37 is one of the best values we've seen among HDMI-equipped players.


Philips DVP5960/37

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7