“Overall this player would be better suited for the bedroom or family room rather than the home theater room...”
- Very affordable; easy to use; small footprint; good for picture viewing
- Average video playback; no LED indicator; lacks Digital Optical Output
With HD DVD and Blu-Ray on the horizon, it’s no surprise that companies are starting to sell regular DVD players at all-time low prices. Case-in-point is the new Pioneer DV-490V DVD player which can be had for just under a 100 dollars. Now because this is Pioneer’s most entry-level DVD player, there are going to be some obvious compromises, which we will cover in this review. Also keep in mind that because DVD technology has been around forever, there are a few treats that come with the DV-490V which you might not expect from a player in this price range.
Design and Features
The Pioneer DV-490V is a fairly attractive unit and since it’s available in either black (the K model) or silver, it should blend in quite well with your current home theater setup. The unit measures just a tad over 1 inch tall and 8 inches deep – a lot smaller than the DVD players of five years ago. On the front of the unit you have your typical controls which include rewind/fast forward/stop/ play/pause/open and close/ and menu navigation buttons. What’s missing however is an LED that lets you know when the unit is powered up. Instead there is an LED that lets you know when the HDMI connector is being used (and we expect a small percentage of users actually use HDMI on this player). On the back of the Pioneer DV-490V you have RCA, Component Video, HDMI, S-Video and Coaxial Digital Audio outputs. What’s odd is that Pioneer is using Coaxial Digital Audio out rather than Optical Digital Out which the more common of the two.
Like most DVD players today, the Pioneer DV-490V is compatible with most media out there including DVDs, DVD-R/RW, CDs, CD-R/RW, WMA and MP3 audio types – it will even playback movies encoded in DiVX. If you are the type that likes to show off pictures, the Pioneer DV-490V has a built-in PhotoViewer that supports JPEG pictures.
The Pioneer DV-490V has onboard encoders for Dolby Digital and DTS including a 24-bit/96kHz audio converter. It does not however have an onboard encoder for Dolby Digital Plus or DTS-HD and for good reason – this is a budget DVD player, it does not support Blu-Ray!
When it comes to video, the Pioneer DV-490V does have a few tricks up its sleeves however. Using the MediaTek MPEG decoder, the 490V will up-convert non copy-protected DVDs to either 720P or 1080i depending on your preferences. For those of you that might be a tad bit confused, this means that essentially any store bought DVD will playback in good ole 480i or 480p mode, it will not up-convert to HD resolutions for you. However, if you have a DivX movie snagged from the web, or some home videos, then it will show them in the higher resolutions.
Setup and Use
Pioneer ships the DV-490V with the basic necessities to get things going. This includes RCA cables, remote control, batteries and the owner’s manual. If you plan to connect this to your TV using component video expect to pay around 50 dollars, and upwards of 100 dollars for a decent length HDMI cable. Samsung has traditionally included an HDMI with their up-converting DVD players, albeit a cheap one, but at least it’s ready to go out of the box.
For our tests we used an HDMI cable by Monster Cable and hooked the DV-490V up to a new Philips 42PF9831D 42” LCD TV (which has two HDMI inputs) and an Onkyo 701TX receiver (which does not include HDMI). The first thing we noticed about the Pioneer DV-490V is that it uses Pioneer’s standard generic remote control which has basically been the same for the past few years. It has no backlight or styling for that matter, but it get’s the job done.
The setup menu is very easy to navigate so you can get things setup to meet your needs. You can easily access the menu from either the remote control or via the controls on the front of the unit itself. One thing worth noting that is that because there is no LED indicator on the front of the player, you have no idea whether the unit is turned on or off until the display actually says “Pioneer” across it, and startup time is about 10-15 seconds. So if you have the Pioneer DV-490V plugged into the wrong connection on your TV, then it’s a guessing game for the first 10 seconds. The last time we checked an LED costs somewhere around .00000000005 of a cent – so Pioneer is just being cheap here.
We found the picture quality to be fairly good. Colors are accurately reproduced for the most part, but we found some jaggy edges on certain content when looking closely. We thought the image quality on the Oppo Digital OPDV97H looked better, thanks to the Faroudja chip that it uses. Text looked solid both while scrolling and during subtitles. One thing worth noting is that the Philips 42PF9831D we used during testing kept changing screen modes, from stretched 4:3 to Widescreen when in “auto” mode. For some reason the DV-490V kept throwing the set off, but that is something we will need to test once we review the Philips TV. When we tested the DV-490V on a 42” inch Hitachi 42HTD51 plasma using the same HDMI connection, we did not experience this issue. DivX movies played back without a hitch as should be expected. Sometimes we noticed the high-definition up-conversion, and sometimes we did not – it all depended on the scene.
Probably one of the most overlooked features on today’s DVD player is the picture playback capabilities. There is little reason to spend money on a Media Center PC if all you want to do is show some pictures to your friends. One of the biggest problems we have seen with DVD players however is the speed it takes to go from one picture to the next. LG’s LRY-517 combo VCR/DVD player for example, would take 10-15 seconds to change from one picture to the next due to its slow processor. The DV-490V on the other hand showed pictures with excellent speed. You can either watch a slideshow of your pictures, or browse through the thumbnails while in the top level menu.
Browsing through the directory will show you picture thumbnails
Picture Viewing is fast and easy
WMAs and MP3s
Another overlooked feature on a lot of DVD players is their music capabilities. While the DV-490V does not support DVD-Audio or SACD discs, it’ll playback music encoded in WMA or MP3 formats. We did not experience any playback issues whatsoever. While the song is playing, the player will display the song title, artist and bit-rate grabbing the information from the files tag information. Because the DV-490V supports both CD and DVD media, you can store literally thousands of songs and play them with this player – it’s great for parties. The best part is that you can play a song and show a slideshow at the same time. These are pretty basic features nowadays that companies tend to screw up. Thankfully the DV-490V gets them right.
Browsing the MP3 directory will display the album and artist information including the bit-rate
Track information is displayed while the song plays
There are some major fault to be found with the DV-490V DVD player. The lack of an optical audio output and even an LED power indicator prove to us that Pioneer cut a lot of corners to get the DV-490V into the sub 100 dollar price bracket. Plus when you figure that you need to buy an HDMI cable separately, you are back up into the 200 dollar price range – not where you want to be with this player. Video playback is fairly average, if not on the low side. We love the picture viewing and music capabilities of the DV-490V though. Overall this player would be better suited for the bedroom or family room rather than the home theater room; but that’s probably where Pioneer intended it to be used.
- Very affordable
- Easy to use, good menu structure
- Good picture viewing capabilities
- Fun to use for MP3 or WMA audio playback
- Average video playback
- Lack of an Optical Digital Audio output
- No LED light
- Old, bland remote
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