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Sony DVP-NS75H review: Sony DVP-NS75H

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We found the design of the DVP-NS75H stylish and attractive--definitely a notch above standard budget DVD players. It stands just 1.6 inches tall, which is a hair higher than the Philips DVP5960/37 but still incredibly short. The faceplate is silver with a long black strip in the center containing the display and the drawer. A front-panel LED lights up indicating an HDMI connection has been made, and we like the numerous front-panel buttons, including the handy chapter-forward/backward buttons for when the remote goes missing. A button labeled Progressive Scan affects only the component-video output, toggling between 480i and 480p resolutions. The remote is well laid out, with buttons for most of the functions you'll usually want to use. It can also be used to control most brands of TVs.

7.0

Sony DVP-NS75H

The Good

Relatively inexpensive; strong image quality when upconverting to 480p, 720p, and 1080i via the HDMI output; stylish design; impressive disc compatibility.

The Bad

Some 2:3 pull-down processing issues; no DVD-Audio or SACD support.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for an affordable DVD player with very good HDMI performance, the Sony DVP-NS75H delivers.
Home-theater enthusiasts are always looking for ways to squeeze more performance out of their current systems. One of the more confusing performance enhancers touted by the consumer electronics industry are -equipped, upconverting DVD players, which claim to deliver quasi-HD picture quality without having to break the bank for HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. How much one of these players can improve video quality over nonupconverting units depends on how well your HDTV scales DVDs itself--for some TVs, the improvement will be nominal, while for others, it will make a big difference. With solid-performing units such as the Sony DVP-NS75H, however, chances are you'll see some improvement, even if it's due more to the digital HDMI connection than to the upconversion itself.

The highlight of the DVP-NS75H's connectivity suite is its HDMI output. Through the HDMI connection, the player is able to upconvert DVD's 480i resolution to 480p, 720p, and 1080i. As we mentioned before, this conversion won't magically make standard DVDs look like high-def, but it can improve the image quality somewhat, depending on how well your TV performs scaling itself. The rest of the jack pack is solid, with a component-video output, an S-Video output, two digital audio outputs (one optical, one coaxial), and a standard A/V output.

Disc compatibility was decent, with the Sony DVP-NS75H handling all but the most difficult home-burned discs in our suite. It recognized a range of file formats, including MP3, WMA, and JPEG, and it played MP3 files from CDs and DVDs. It couldn't play back any discs with DivX files on them, but of course, Sony doesn't claim DivX compatibility.

Overall, we were pretty impressed by the image quality of the DVP-NS75H, which surpasses that of the aforementioned Philips DVP5690/37 by a nose. Unlike many other upconverting DVD players we've tested, the DVP-NS75H did a relatively good job with the resolution test from the Silicon Optics HQV test suite. In both 1080i and 720p, we would say it barely passed, with the finest detail not being perfectly resolved. However, in 480p, everything was extremely sharp with none of the flickering that we've become accustomed to seeing on similar upconverting players. We were also pleased by its performance on both the "rotating line" and "three shifting lines" jaggies tests. It aced both of these tests in all the resolutions, something we usually see only on more expensive units, such as our Denon DVD-3910 reference player. We were similarly reminded of the Denon when watching footage of a waving flag, which was rendered smoothly despite its reputation as a torture test for video processing.

After such a predominantly positive performance, we were surprised to hit one major snag with image testing. While the DVP-NS75H handled 2:3 pull-down processing well in our Star Trek: Insurrection test, smoothing out jagged edges and moving lines in the rooftops and overturned boats, it completely failed the "race car" 2:3 pull-down test from the HQV test suite. The player should be able to detect the need to engage film mode and lock in its processing, but it could not do that, and the result was a moiré pattern of moving lines seen in the grandstand.

On a lesser scale, we also noticed the chroma bug error in the 1080i and 720p modes using tests from the Windows DVD Annex. It resulted in a combing effect on the edge of some colors--especially red--but would only show up on improperly authored DVDs.

As a side note, we were happy to see Sony correct the previous "shift" issue that plagued the DVP-NS70H, in which a bug caused additional slim black bars when material was being upconverted over HDMI. We did not see that behavior in our tests.

We've been skeptical that upconverting DVD players improve picture quality enough to justify their cost, but the Sony DVP-NS75H delivers the goods. Of course, we still have some nitpicks with the video performance, and you certainly don't get a bundle of extra features as you would on some other players, such as the less expensive Philips. The Sony's still relatively low price and its impressive picture quality make it a solid choice for budget-minded videophiles trying to make their DVD collections look even more impressive.

7.0

Sony DVP-NS75H

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 8