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Looks-wise, the DVD-V1000 has that same metallic sheen you'll find on many of Samsung's attractive, standalone DVD players. One of its biggest pluses is that it's only slightly larger than a garden-variety single-disc deck. On another positive note, on the back of the V1000, you'll find a full complement of inputs and outputs, including a set of Dolby Digital- and DTS-compatible optical and coaxial digital audio outputs, as well component video outputs (for superior picture quality).
The deck's front panel is adorned with a number of buttons that pull double duty with both DVD and VCR functions (there's a button to toggle between the two modes), additional composite inputs, and a dedicated DVD-to-VCR copy button. Don't get too excited, though. Before you try to bootleg Almost Famous--The Bootleg Cut know that this player will not allow you duplicate copy-protected discs. It did, however, work wonders with a test DVD-R disc to copy a home video onto a VHS tape.
While the front-panel interface is pretty user-friendly, the remote isn't. It's cluttered with buttons that are poorly labeled and not backlit, making the remote particularly difficult to use in the dark. The onscreen interface, while not the prettiest, does a serviceable job of guiding you through the menus. As far as features go, all the basics are here, but expect to have to drill down a little ways in the awkward menu system to adjust slightly more advanced settings, such as the aspect ratio (4:3 PS, 4:3 LB, 16:9).
Once the Samsung is up and running, you can get a functional picture from the DVD-V1000, but take a more critical look and it's easy to spot the flaws. On a standard 4:3 TV, during the title sequence of the Star Trek: Insurrection DVD, stacks of hay seemed alive with blurry movement (this phenomenon is called dot crawl). Also, colors blended slightly into a mixed moiré when we later connected the V1000 to Samsung's Tantus 27-inch HD-ready set.
On the VCR front, we didn't have any major complaints, but don't expect high-end performance; the unit's VCR component performs about on a par with a sub-$100 four-head VCR; it's about as easy to program as one, too.
The deck's audio elements didn't disappoint either, though, again, don't expect wonders. When testing the DVD-V1000 through a budget-level Cambridge SoundWorks 5.1 speaker/receiver kit, we got reasonably clear surround sound when listening to Dr. Alan Grant being stalked by Dinosaurs in Jurassic Park III. Exotic birds chirped from behind while raptors lurched in from the sides.
If you don't have a surround-sound setup, a decent virtual surround-sound mode tries hard to fool your ears. We're also happy to say that the V1000 can play MP3-encoded CD-Rs. The only drawback: as with most DVD players that read MP3s, this one can read and display only six characters of a track's title.
Originally set at $349, the DVD-V1000 was simply too expensive for what it is. Now that the price has dropped dramatically--we've seen it for as low as $190 online--this entry-level combination DVD/VCR player becomes a much better option. If you have simple desires and need to watch your bottom line, give the V1000 a chance. If you're looking for more features and better performance, check out Samsung's V2000 and V2500 step-up models. (We haven't gotten these products in for review yet.)