When you think of stylish consumer electronic products, you probably don't think of A/V minisystems--but if more minisystems looked like the Philips MCD702, maybe you would. Its multitiered design, glossy faceplates, and rosewood speakers make it look much classier than its $250 list price would lead you to believe. Once you get past the glitzy aesthetics, however, there's not quite as much punch as its competitors have. While the MCD702 (also known as the MCD702/37) does offer DVD playback and MP3/WMA CD support, it's lacking features such as the USB port, DivX playback, and multidisc changer that we've seen on other similar systems. And while we can live with a dearth of extra features, it was a little bit harder to live with the subpar sound. That said, if style is your No. 1 concern, the Philips MCD702 is up to basic home-theater tasks, and its price--under $200 online--is easy to swallow. If you're looking for a better performing system, check out Philips cheaper, less stylish MCD515, or the more expensive but feature-packed and better-sounding LG LF-D7150. Designwise, the Philips MCD702 is definitely the most attractive shelf system we've seen in this price range. The central unit is actually a two-part system: a single-disc CD/DVD player sits on top of a tiny amplifier, which in turn rests on a clear plastic stand. The stand may be overkill, but it adds to the visual appeal. Both the amp and the disc player sport a glossy mirrored-silver finish, and there's an LCD screen on the disc player for basic readouts: track numbers, times, and so forth. Controls are divided between the two components, and the disc player boasts a gently opening top loader. All together, the central unit and the speakers are about 11 inches deep, 9 inches tall, and 20 inches across--although we'd probably wouldn't group the speakers right next to each other. The overall effect of the MCD702 is that it looks more expensive that it really is and definitely isn't the eyesore that many minisystems are. The only possible downside to the multicomponent design that we could see is that it makes it slightly less portable, since each of the three sections aren't connected--but we had no problem moving it around our testing facilities.
Like the design, the remote looks especially nice considering how little the MCD702 costs. The design is very similar to that of the remotes that come with Philips's TVs; it isn't our favorite, but there aren't too many missteps here. Our biggest complaint is that the volume controls aren't a rocker-style button like the channel is--instead, Philips decided to give the tuner control a rocker-style button. The rest of the buttons are a little on the small side and very similarly sized, but they're not that frequently used. We liked that the remote felt solid in our hands and had a bit more heft than a generic plastic remote. We would have loved backlighting, but--like the other DVD minisystems in this price range--the feature was a no-show. That's too bad, as these smaller systems are ideal for late-night bedroom movie watching.
The two included speakers feature a ribbon tweeter and a 4-inch woofer. They also offer binding-post speaker connections, a nice upgrade over the standard spring-clip connectors. The Philips MCD702 is described as a DVD Micro Theatre, but it has a few additional features beyond DVD. In addition to standard DVD movies and audio CDs, the player also handles home-burned CDs with MP3s and WMAs, as well as those containing JPEGs. There are also tuners for both AM and FM, with included antennas.
Connectivity is pretty decent. You get the standard component, S-Video, and composite-video outputs you'd find on any DVD player, so the MCD702 will connect easily to nearly any TV. And while the all-in-one system is designed to play through its connected stereo speakers, there is some flexibility available: optical and digital coaxial outputs will let you connect to an outboard receiver if you'd like to get true surround from your DVDs. Moreover, the MCD702 includes two sets of analog audio inputs (standard red and white RCA jacks), so you can simultaneously connect a pair of external devices--an iPod and a game console, for instance. Rounding out the back panel is a subwoofer pre-out--though if you're really interested in heavier bass, you'll probably want to invest in the MCD703, which includes a matching stand-alone subwoofer in the box but is otherwise identical to the 702. The only front-panel connection is a standard 1/8-inch headphone jack.