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Hitachi DVP325U review:

Hitachi DVP325U

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The Good Nice remote; MP3 support with random mode; optical and coaxial digital-audio outputs; zoom control.

The Bad Relatively expensive; poor anamorphic conversion.

The Bottom Line While it has a few extra features compared to most entry-level decks, this unit's higher price lessens its appeal.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.8 Overall

Hitachi's DVP325U, a standard interlaced DVD player, doesn't have much to distinguish it from the crowd of other like models on the market. Sure, it sports a nice zoom control, ample MP3 support, both types of digital-audio output, and a remote that's a cut above most. However, those bonuses don't really justify its relatively high street price of $130. Still, if you own a Hitachi TV and want a matching deck, this one does the trick. Hitachi's DVP325U, a standard interlaced DVD player, doesn't have much to distinguish it from the crowd of other like models on the market. Sure, it sports a nice zoom control, ample MP3 support, both types of digital-audio output, and a remote that's a cut above most. However, those bonuses don't really justify its relatively high street price of $130. Still, if you own a Hitachi TV and want a matching deck, this one does the trick.

Design
The DVP325U has an almost old-fashioned look compared to the slim, smooth offerings from Toshiba and Sony. This fairly shallow deck stands three inches tall and can perch atop most televisions with ease. A chrome strip adorns the disc drawer; below that sits a rudimentary, blue LED that's missing such important information as audio mode and current chapter. A shuttle dial to the far right of the unit allows easy operation of scans and the slow-motion feature but doesn't access the menu.

Users with smaller hands may have to stretch to reach the remote's Play button, but we found the long wand's size nearly ideal. The Enter button sits in a small depression amid the cursor keys, so the thumb can find it easily. Unlike many entry-level remotes, this one can control volume, channel, and power for most brands of TV. The menu system delivers its information without frills, icons, or explanatory text, which may confuse some new users.

Features
While its status as an entry-level player precludes extras such as DVD-Audio support and progressive-scan capabilities, the DVP325U has a few more features than many low-buck decks. It boasts a zoom feature, which comes complete with a nifty visual aid that helps you control what section of the image gets magnified. Simulated surround sound is a boon to users restricted to two-channel audio or TV speakers.

The DVP325U ran our gauntlet of test discs easily, handling CR-Rs, VCDs, DVD-Rs, DVD+Rs, DVD+RWs (but not DVD-RWs), and MP3 CDs. MP3 CDs loaded quickly, and the player incorporates an onscreen menu that shows up to 27 characters of the filename. You can set the 325U to play back an entire CD's worth of MP3 tracks at random.

We were pleased to note both types of digital-audio output--optical and coaxial--on the back panel since most entry-level players have just one or the other. In addition to the high-quality component-video output, Hitachi includes one helping each of composite-video, S-Video, and analog stereo-audio jacks.

Performance
We had no major complaints when we put the 325U to the test with the Michael Douglas cop classic Black Rain on a 50-inch Philips 50P8341 rear-screen projector. The video noise that we saw on the inside of a dim, smoke-filled restaurant is to be expected with entry-level units, but the player still managed the shadow details with minimal MPEG interference.

The large screen did reveal the 325U's biggest picture flaw: poor anamorphic conversion, a problem common to most entry-level decks. When showing enhanced-for-wide-screen discs, the player introduced moving line artifacts. An example from Black Rain is the venetian blinds in the same restaurant scene, which moved unnaturally during a quick pan.

Overall, the 325U is a competent performer with an above-average remote control, but it's simply not as refined as decks from other major manufacturers. That would be OK if the 325U sold for around $100, but the best online price that we could find was closer to $130. That's a little expensive for this Hitachi, especially when players such as the Sony DVP-NS315B can be had for less. hitachi dvp-32

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