The design of micro HiFi systems hasn't, by and large, changed much in the past ten years, although the exact components that go into them may have. The MCDV10 looks much like you'd expect a micro system to look; two speakers on the side of a central unit that handles all of the MCDV10's playback functions. Ten years ago the MCDV10's shell would have featured a tape deck; this is now omitted in favour of a CD/DVD tray and 7 inch LCD display panel.
The MCDV10 comes with a very cluttered and unintuitive remote control. Most of the important buttons are just too small, and moreover, there's way too many of them for easy use.
TEAC touts the MCDV10 as a complete home entertainment unit, and on paper, it's hard to argue. The MCDV10 combines a HiFi sound system (albeit only a 2-channel model), DVD player, standard definition digital TV tuner and an "LCD television". We've highlighted the LCD TV part because it's a good paper definition. Yes, there's an LCD panel (of sorts), and it does receive TV broadcasts -- but more on this later.
The MCDV10 also features a single USB port, which can be used to connect USB Flash drives for the purposes of playing back MP3 music files or displaying JPEG photos. It's intended and marketed as a secondary TV -- it offers outputs (up to component level) if you want to use it as a rather large DVD player or SD STB with a larger display. Annoyingly, there's no provision for audio input, so those pondering the MCDV10 for the teenager's bedroom may wish to look elsewhere; there's no way for them to hook up an Xbox 360, after all.
While the MCDV10 offers a lot of promise, in actual usage it falls very, very flat. The chief problem with the MCDV10 is the display screen. It's a cheap, low resolution LCD (specs say "greater than 500 lines") with a truly awful refresh rate and a murky picture that looks like it's been liberally smeared with Vaseline. After five minutes of diligently trying to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, we had to stare away before our eyes began to bleed. That's just when you're staring directly at the display, mind you. Move more than about fifteen degrees from any side and you'll be struggling to make anything out at all.
The poor quality screen essentially knocks DVD and digital TV out of the picture, unless you like sitting about two inches away from the screen, Clockwork Orange-style. That just leaves CD/MP3 playback to the MCDV10's credit. Both are presented in a workmanlike, but essentially unexciting fashion, as the speakers that ship with the MCDV10 are ordinary in the extreme. We hit problems with some USB flash drives -- notably those that offer the U3 application platform -- the MCDV10 refused to recognise them as drives at all. Similarly, plugging in a USB-based music player (the Sandisk Sansa Extreme) gave us no joy at all.
The final nail in the MCDV10's coffin is the asking price. On paper, AU$399 for an LCD TV with inbuilt tuner, DVD player and USB MP3 playback seems like a bargain. Once you realise that the TV/DVD part of the playback is unwatchable for anything longer than about five minutes, however, you're stuck with an ordinary sounding AU$399 stereo system -- and you can do better in this category for that price.