Grundig GDV 100D DVD Player

    Because of the hassles that are involved with region encoding, a player with the capability to bypass this anti-consumer device is now generally considered to be essential. If there is just one thing that the GDV 100D does well, it is playing a plethora of discs from all over the world without missing so much as a quarter of a beat. At a retail price of $1499, it does seem rather expensive by today's standards, but there are some advantages to this player that make the extra layout worthwhile. Sadly, there are also some disadvantages that might make you want to reconsider.

What's In The Box

    The box contains;     Notably omitted are a set of analogue stereo cables and a composite video cable, serious omissions to say the very least.

    The manuals included simply contain different languages, with three or four languages to a manual. The English section of the manual is somewhat spartan, but it lets you know everything you need to know in order to get your player up and running. It also contains some interesting pieces of information such as the maximum resolution you can expect out of your DVD player (720x576) and the approximate total playing time of a disc that has two audio languages and three subtitle tracks (133 minutes for a single-layered disc, 241 minutes for an RSDL disc).

    The manual is very dry and stale in its delivery of information, and most of the information contained within it is useless to the Australian reader because of the Eurocentric information it contains.

Front Panel

    The Grundig GDV 100D has a very sleek, aerodynamic black shape with a very spartan front panel. The power switch is an annoying little number that pops in and out according to its state. Placing this player in standby mode can only be done from the remote control, which is a rather glaring omission at times when you've misplaced the remote control under the lounge cushions.

    The extreme left of the player contains the power switch and the disc tray, which is one of the better-placed trays I have seen in a while. The middle of the player contains the LED display, which cannot be dimmed in any manner at all. Underneath the LED display you will find the fast-forward and rewind buttons, as well as buttons for some basic control functions. The play, pause, and chapter skip buttons are located on the extreme right of the player. In a nutshell, the front panel contains everything you need and nothing that you don't.

    Placing a disc into the tray is an easy affair, and the loading mechanism is one of the better ones I have seen on any kind of player, although the whirring sound is somewhat loud by my standards. Overall, this is one of the most intuitively designed front panels you can expect to see, with only a small degree of familiarization necessary to make all operations from this panel second nature.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel is a little bit of a worry, but it works just fine for me in most cases. The region label on the back panel boldly proclaims the player to be a Region 2 player, but this is an issue we can explore later. Connectors for digital audio, stereo analogue audio, composite video, and RGB video through a Euroconnector (or SCART as we call it) interface are all present and accounted for, but there is one glaring omission: an S-video output. This, in a nutshell, is why I gave up on this player and went with a Toshiba SD-2109 player instead. While this player may be compatible with a variety of television sets that are available in Western Europe, not a lot of equipment exists in Region 4 that is compatible with RGB input. This basically means that you have a choice between buying a new television set that supports RGB input, in which case electronics dealers can hold you to ransom, or restricting yourself to composite input, which is not particularly ideal either.

    Connecting all the necessary cables to their appropriate ports is remarkably easy, and the well-spaced layout of the rear panel is very advantageous when it comes to adding cables later. All the ports are easily accessed, although the sound and composite video ports are somewhat too close together. Given that these cables all essentially perform similar functions, this is a very minor quibble. The rear panel also features a switch that allows you to change the on screen display from PAL to NTSC mode, with the latter option preferred because it makes the display look a little less ugly.

Remote Control

    The first thing that strikes me whenever I look at the Grundig RP-100D remote control is how simplistic and minimal it is in comparison to other remote controls, and yet how large it is, especially in comparison to other remote controls such as the one which comes with the Toshiba SD-2109. This is one of the best laid-out remote controls I have seen for any household appliance, with every available function given plenty of space to limit the possibility of hitting one button when you're aiming for another. The top of the remote control contains a standby button, but when the player is in standby mode, it will not respond to this button at all. This is consistent with the typical style of German-designed remotes, where there tends to be a separate on and off button, but given that there is no other button on the remote that relates to power, this is a very annoying and counter-intuitive implementation which should be rectified immediately. In any case, below the standby button, you will find a collection of numbered buttons that ostensibly allow faster chapter and title navigation. Given that the player itself seems to never recognize when these buttons are pressed, however, these buttons become all but useless, although the well-spaced layout of the remote control allows this oversight to be overlooked. The real kicker is the menu navigation buttons, which double as basic control buttons during playback: they are doubtlessly the best-placed buttons of this variety you are likely to find on most any remote control. They are also well-shaped, although the round shape of the left and right buttons is a very minor disappointment. The left and right navigation buttons, double as the fast-forward and rewind buttons, while the up and down navigation buttons double as the pause and slow-motion buttons. The button in the middle, marked "OK", performs the same function as the Enter button on most other remotes while in the menu. Using these direction buttons with just about any menu is very easy, even in the dark. A series of buttons below these directional keys perform such functions as switching audio tracks, subtitle tracks, and angles. The only real annoyance of the implementation of these functions is that once subtitles are switched on, which is done automatically when you select a subtitle using the remote, you have to go to the disc's menu to turn them off again. Beneath this series of buttons lies a row of small buttons for the On Screen Display and Setup functions. In no way does their size make them any less intuitive to use, but this is more because of the fact that they are so well spaced-out that remembering which button is which is rather easy, and operating them solely by memory is even easier. If a simple, easy-to-use remote control is the basis on which you judge a DVD player, then the Grundig is a must-buy.

Video Playback

    The Grundig GDV 100D ships with the screen size set to 4:3 Letterbox mode as the default. I have played this player using a variety of settings, including the very much-maligned Pan & Scan mode. When the player is set to a mode that the disc does not support, it simply (and seamlessly) changes mode to the nearest approximation that the disc does support. This results in such discs as The Waterboy and Starship Troopers being played back in 4:3 Letterbox if the player is set to 4:3 Pan & Scan. However, you will still need to set your player to 16:9 mode in order to enjoy a 16:9 picture.

    The manual and the player itself are marked as Zone 2, but it would seem this player has evidently been modified by the distributor to ensure compatibility with Region 4. Either that or Grundig are not so keen to announce that they are manufacturing Region 0 players. The player will also play any Region 1 disc you throw at it without skipping a beat, which is an excellent snub to the few major conglomerates who actually believe region encoding to be a good idea. This player's software compatibility certainly makes up for the shortcomings in the hardware compatibility area. The Grundig is also a lot less picky about the condition of the discs it plays, with a rental copy of Dr. Strangelove that the Japanese-built Toshiba SD-2109 spat the dummy at due to its condition playing back without so much as a hiccup on the German-built Grundig.

    If there is one area where the Grundig GDV 100D beats the Toshiba SD-2109, it lies in the implementation of the fast forward function. The fast forward and fast reverse functions are available in 2X and 8X speeds, and the picture on the screen is a very accurate reflection of the disc's actual position. If you fast forward through the bad sound balance of the Mars landing sequence on Total Recall and resume normal playback at the very beginning of the customs sequence, it will play back from that very spot instead of ten seconds later than the picture you see when you resume normal playback as the Toshiba SD-2109 does. This, needless to say, is the best way to implement the function.

    RSDL layer changes are noticeable on this player, even in spots where a lot of care was taken to hide the transition. The least amount of time that the GDV 100D takes during a layer transition is about a fifteenth of a second, which is especially noticeable when the transition is in as bad a spot as it was on Total Recall. Still, discs that have been known to lock up at the layer change, such as Thelma & Louise, do not present a problem on this player.

On Screen Display

    The On Screen Display for this player is very ugly, but also very functional. Unless the disc has been somehow encoded so that it will not show the information (such as was done with The Best Of The Blues Brothers), the GDV 100D will show you the exact running time of the feature you are watching. If you're using the player to do reviews, this is an extremely handy inclusion, and it is also a good function if you get that inevitable "will this film never end?" feeling that such stinkers as Titanic are bound to induce. The on-screen display is really designed with fifty-one centimetre (probably smaller) screens in mind, because when it gets to a certain size, it looks hideous. As I mentioned before, there is a switch on the back panel that allows you to switch the OSD from PAL to NTSC mode, and the latter option squeezes the size down a little, which in turns makes it a hell of a lot more pleasant to look at.

    Sadly, the subtitle feature suffers the same malady as it does on the Toshiba SD-2109, in that the subtitles are distinguished by abbreviated codes rather than the full name of the language. "ES" for Spanish is easy enough when you remember how the name "Spanish" is rendered in the language, but "IW" for Hebrew is more than a bit much.

Audio Playback

    Here's something you don't see every day: a DVD player that features on-board MPEG decoding! Given how few amplifiers there are out there that support Dolby Digital and MPEG decoding at the same time, this is an inclusion that I wish more players featured. If it weren't for the lack of S-video support, this feature would leave me with little use for my Toshiba. In any case, this makes the GDV 100D handy as a backup player for those rare occasions when you encounter MPEG-only discs such as the early Warner Classic Albums DVDs, most notably the Electric Ladyland DVD. An on-board Dolby Digital decoder would have also been a nice inclusion, but we can overlook this omission given how popularly supported in the world of amplifiers the Dolby Digital standard is.

    To test the audio playback of this DVD player, I borrowed a few discs that had been known to exhibit audio sync problems on a wide variety of players, as well as the entirety of my personal collection. The Wedding Singer and Wild Things, two of Village Roadshow's earliest releases onto the DVD market, were specifically used to test the audio sync of the player. In a nutshell, if you see sync problems while watching a film on the GDV 100D, it's the fault of the disc. Even during The Wedding Singer, no discernible problems with audio sync occurred in spite of the ever-looming threat. A slight pause accompanies changes in audio tracks, but this is the only way you're going to see the player miss a beat in audio playback. My entire collection of discs also failed to demonstrate any problems that could be blamed on the player.

    Another feature worth mentioning is the excellent implementation of CD-Audio playback, with a plethora of options not normally found on DVD players present in the GDV 100D's manner of handling the CD-DA format. The option to exclude certain tracks from playback is a nice touch, and the manner in which the programming system is implemented is first-rate in spite of the fact that it takes some getting used to. The only real complaint I have is that when the playback of any disc, regardless of format, is stopped, hitting the fast-forward or fast-reverse buttons will cause the player to eject the disc. Although this is an annoyance that should have been left out, it is easy to cope with once you become aware of it and how to make its ugly head pop up.




    If you absolutely must have MPEG audio capability, then this is the player for you. However, some careful planning needs to be made when designing a home theatre system around this player. Still, if you live in Europe or have a European television set, then this is the player for you.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

Product Type: DVD-Video, Video CD and Audio CD player
Region: Marked as Zone 2 (Western Europe), but able to play discs from all zones.
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Audio Frequency Response: DVD linear sound: 
48 kHz sampling 4 Hz to 22 kHz 
96 kHz sampling 4 Hz to 44 kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio: More than 112 dB
Dynamic Range: More than 96 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.006%
Dimensions: 430 (w) x 305 (d) x 61 (h)
Weight: Approximately 4 kg
Price: $1499

© Dean McIntosh
February 10, 2000