The Marantz DV-3100 has a plain but functional front panel.
The left side of the front panel carries a soft power on-off switch.
The middle of the front panel carries the disc tray and the fluorescent display. The fluorescent display has an annoying multi-coloured disc spinning graphic which cannot be dimmed. Having said that, the display also features a multi-angle content icon, something which I always appreciate. This particular icon works in conjunction with an on-screen multi-angle icon whenever multi-angle content is detected. The on-screen icon appears transiently, but the panel icon flashes continuously whenever multi-angle content is being displayed. This is a well-thought out combination, being both unobtrusive and highly functional.
The right side of the front panel has an OPEN/CLOSE button along with some nicely laid out basic DVD navigation buttons.
The rear panel of this player is very unusually laid out, with intermingled audio and video connectors which are potentially confusing if careful attention is not paid when the unit is being hooked up. From left to right;
The Coaxial Digital Audio output is directly above the S-Video output. There is no optical digital audio output.
Next to this are two sets of analogue Left and Right audio outputs, which are separated by the component video outputs. The composite video output can be found below the right-most analogue audio outputs.
Next to the audio and video connectors is a PAL/NTSC/AUTO switch which allows you to set the type of television that is connected to the DVD player. This switch works in conjunction with the setup menu of the player.
Finishing off the rear panel is a wired-in power cable with a cable tie permanently attached to the rear panel, a nice touch if you ever need to pack up and move the player for any reason.
The centrepiece of the remote control is an appropriately-shaped arrow key mechanism with a central select button. This is relatively pleasant to operate, but the keys could perhaps have been a little larger.
Below this is the basic navigation key matrix. Both the FAST FORWARD/FAST REVERSE and CHAPTER SKIP FORWARDS/BACKWARDS keys are implemented using tall buttons that function in one direction if pressed at the top and in the other if pressed at the bottom. Whilst this takes some getting used to, it is a concept that actually works quite well once you are comfortable with it. Importantly, it makes disc navigation easy in the dark as these keys are readily identifiable by touch. The PLAY and STOP buttons are placed in between these keys and are subsequently easy to locate and difficult to confuse.
The AUDIO, SUBTITLE, and ANGLE buttons are poorly placed above the arrow key mechanism and difficult to locate in the dark.
The operating range and angle of operation of the remote control were reasonable without being spectacular.
The first thing that I noted about this DVD player was that the black level was significantly different between NTSC and PAL modes. Setting the black level correctly in NTSC mode resulted in a black level that was too dark in PAL mode. Anyone considering this DVD player would do well to ensure that their display device can memorize more than one set of image parameters, as otherwise either NTSC DVDs will have their black level displayed too brightly or PAL DVDs will have their black level displayed too darkly.
Having set the black level to my satisfaction, I then set about assessing the overall video performance of this DVD player.
Unfortunately, the video output of this DVD player was a tad problematic, exhibiting a number of subtle but disconcerting faults. This was a real shame as the MPEG decoder chip used by this player, the C-Cube ZiVA-3, is generally one that performs very well, and is the same one as used in the top-of-the-line Marantz DV-18, which produces an exemplary image.
The image was relatively soft and poorly defined, with only reasonable definition of foreground objects. Background objects tended to be poorly defined, particularly when the image was in motion, when a number of additional image faults manifested themselves.
Horizontal pans of dark images were a problem for this DVD player, with the image subtly degenerating into a series of moving vertical bands that were most unpleasant to look at instead of moving as a coherent whole. The Dolby Digital City trailer, found on many DVDs, was particularly prone to this unpleasant artefact, but a clear example of this could also be seen on the Men In Black DVD, between 2:01 and 2:04, where the panning moon is clearly split into moving bands rather than being a solid image.
Colour banding was also a problem, with subtle diagonal discoloured stripes present across the image under specific conditions. This problem was not always visible, but was particularly noticeable on people's faces, which took on a subtle purple banded discolouration which became most unpleasant to look at after a while. This effect was also evident on large areas of cyan (light blue), which would be marred by discoloured green bands. The player's setup menu itself, presented with a cyan background colour, was an obvious place to view this discolouration.
The player is marked as a Zone 4 DVD player, however the first unit I received for evaluation had no problems with the one Region 1 DVD that I tried on it. I did not test this functionality on the second unit I received.
The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this player are very smooth at x2 speed and of average smoothness at its other speeds of 4x, 16x and 100x.
RSDL layer changes resulted in a short pause, typically of the order of 1/4 - 1/2 second.
A moderate number of subtitle languages are recognized by this DVD player and displayed as three letter abbreviations. Subtitle languages that the player does not recognize are left blank on the on-screen display.
Functional key-presses on the remote are accompanied by various icons appearing on the on-screen display.
One particular icon that I did not like was a garish disc loading icon which appeared in the bottom right corner of the on-screen display whenever a disc was being loaded.
Subjectively, I noted the occasional very subtle audio sync problem. Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay was 22 milliseconds, a result consistent with minor audio sync problems being apparent at times, which accorded with my subjective assessment of the player.
DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player.
MPEG audio bitstreams are output as either native MPEG or converted to Linear PCM depending on the setup of the player.
Able to output PAL-50 in high quality.
Nicely-implemented multi-angle indicator.
On-Screen Display does not appear when a DVD is paused on a still frame.
|Video||Component Output||RGB Output|
|Audio||DTS Output||MP3 Playback|
|Value For Money|
|Product Type:||DVD-Video, Video CD and Audio CD player|
|Region:||Zone 4 (Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America, Mexico)|
|Signal System:||PAL / NTSC|
|MPEG Decoder:||C-Cube ZiVA-3|
|Audio Frequency Response:||4Hz - 22kHz (48kHz sampling)
4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||>100dB|
|Total Harmonic Distortion:||<0.0025%|
|Dimensions:||440 (w) x 332 (d) x 87 (h)|
|Distributor:||Jamo Australia Pty Ltd
24 Lionel Road
Mt Waverley VIC 3149
© Michael Demtschyna
8th September 2000