Marantz DV-4200 DVD Player

    The words "entry-level" seem to mean different things to different manufacturers, with an increasing number of players seemingly compromising on the essential DVD playback function in order to provide a cheap price point, or a number of features that most novices and long-time users alike will find limited uses for. The Marantz DV-4200, however, provides all the features that people would think they want without skimping on the essential DVD playback quality. While it is not the cheapest player I have reviewed, it does provide a lot in the value for money stakes.

What's In The Box

    The following items were found in the Marantz DV-4200's box:

    The model I evaluated was a solid black colour, but the DV-4200 is also available in gold if that more closely meets your cosmetic requirements.

Front Panel

    The Front Panel of this player is very spartan in nature, with only the most basic controls provided.

    On the extreme left is the soft Power On/Off switch, with an indicator to the upper right.

    In the middle is the disc tray, beneath which is the display window and a remote sensor. The display window also features a disc-spinning graphic that I found a little bothersome to look at after a while, which is compounded somewhat by the inability to dim the display at all. To the right of the disc tray is the Open/Close button, which will also turn the player ON if it is pressed whilst the player is OFF.

    On the extreme right are the disc navigation buttons, with the Stop button on the top left and the Play button on the top right. Beneath these two buttons are the Scan buttons (which also double as Chapter Skip buttons), with a Pause button sitting between them. The relatively small size of the buttons may be an issue to those who, as  I do, don't like wasted space on an appliance.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel has quite a lot of connectors on it, as well as some interesting switches. From left to right, we have:

    Everything on the rear panel is satisfactory in its layout, although it is relatively easy to accidentally plug one of the Analogue audio out plugs into the Composite video output, and vice versa.

Remote Control

    The RC6200DV gave me a sense of dread when I first saw it, as its layout appears very cluttered and difficult to use. However, it is noticeably easier to use than the remotes supplied with the last couple of players that I have looked at. With time, I suspect that one could easily adapt to this remote until it became a breeze to use.

    The top of the remote contains the power on/off button, the open/close button, and two rows of four buttons, labelled Setup, Repeat, A-B, Random, Audio, Subtitle, Angle, and Surround (this is actually abbreviated to Surr.). These buttons are relatively easy to use, and their spacing makes it reasonably difficult to hit the wrong button by mistake. It is interesting to note that when one accidentally ejects a disc, as has happened to me occasionally with my reference player, one can press the Eject button again to reinsert the disc, and playback will commence from whatever point in the film you were watching at the time, a very handy feature.

    The next lot of buttons down is the central arrow key mechanism, with the Top Menu, Menu, Return, and OSD buttons (in clockwise order) surrounding it. The arrow keys are shaped in just such a manner that their direction can be discerned by feel, while the Select/Enter key is also differentiated from them by its unusual plus shape. The only complaint I have about this area of the remote is that the Menu and OSD buttons are rather small, making them easy to miss as one hunts around for them.

    Further down are the basic disc navigation buttons, with the Zoom, Marker, and Search buttons taking up the top row. In the middle are a double-ended button for Fast Forward and Fast Reverse (depending on which end of the button you press), the Play button, the Stop Button, and a similar double-ended button for Chapter Skip Forward and Reverse. Finally, on the bottom row are the Pause, Slow Reverse, and Slow Forward buttons. I found the implementation of the Scan and Skip buttons (as the dual-ended buttons are labelled) somewhat clunky at first, but I eventually got used to them. I still wonder, however, how easy they will be to use in a darkened room.

    Finally, the bottom of the remote control contains ten numerical buttons, with a Clear button on the left of the zero button, and a Program button on its right. The Program button can only be used for audio Compact Discs.

    The operating range and angle of the remote control were perfectly satisfactory.

Manual

    The manual is approximately ninety pages long, with the first half in English. Said English is well laid-out, with no obvious errors. Thankfully, the manual is more helpful than some I could mention in explaining how various set-up menu options work (see below).

Set-Up Menu

    The Set-Up menu of the DV-4200 is very graphical, and very concise, with all of the options displayed on a singular screen with branching menus. Interestingly, the TV Shape option is set to 16:9 Widescreen by default, which might cause some confusion for those who don't understand what this option is for.

    There are options to convert Dolby Digital and DTS audio to Linear PCM, but this screen is rather confusingly laid out. The available options caused some puzzlement until a check of the manual revealed that selecting the "Stream/PCM" option outputs these soundtracks in their original format. MPEG audio streams can either be output raw (the option in the Set-Up menu is confusingly marked "Stream/PCM") or converted to 48 kHz Linear PCM ("Dolby Digital/PCM" option). DTS bitstreams appear to be unaffected by the way this option is set, although changing it to the third available option, "PCM", produced some odd results.

Video Playback

    I performed all of the video playback tests using the S-Video output, with the player set to output a 16x9 image. The Marantz DV-4200 utilizes the Pantera 2 MPEG decoder chip, manufactured by Mediamatics.

    The Marantz DV-4200 produces a very pleasant image that, while not the best I have seen from any given player, is easily comparable to the best I have looked at in this particular price range. Both the purity and sharpness tests on The Ultimate DVD Platinum produced perfectly satisfactory results, with no detectable chroma noise or cross-colouration evident. Reference discs that I like to use to test the smoothness and other such characteristics of a player's image, such as the Criterion edition of RoboCop or the Region 4 version of X-Men, produced an image that is somewhat akin to the Toshiba SD-2109, but with a touch less aliasing.

    [Ed. There appears to be a specific issue with Loewe TVs and the Marantz DV-4200 (and for that matter the Marantz DV-3100) involving the S-Video output of this player. A distinct, coloured banding appears diagonally across the image when viewing PAL material via S-Video. This is variably distracting, and is most visible on cyan, with distinct green bands discolouring the image. This problem is not apparent via the composite video output or on other brands of TV. Loewe TV owners are advised to check this DVD player on their particular TV before committing to a purchase.]

    The Marantz DV-4200 is marked as a Region 4 player, but I managed to make it play back my RCE-protected Region 1 version of Hollow Man without a problem.

    The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this player are quite reasonably implemented, with speeds of 2X, 4X, 16X, and 100X available. At all speeds, the player resumes playback at the point shown on screen when the play button is pressed, although this is difficult to discern when Fast Forwarding at 100X. Some may find this maximum speed to be overkill, in fact.

    Layer changes were quite noticeable on the DV-4200, with pauses nearing a whole second on Hollow Man and Snatch.

On Screen Display

    The On-Screen Display consists of a singular graphical page that is somewhat limited in its functionality. The DV-4200 will not display the time remaining in a given title, which will be an annoyance to anyone who sits down to watch a title that gets boring and decides they want to see how much longer they have to suffer for, such as reviewers.

    Subtitle and audio languages are displayed only as three-letter abbreviations, and the GUI is somewhat small when it comes to displaying these features, making it a less than ideal choice for those whose vision is less than that of a very healthy twenty-year-old.

Standards Conversions

    The Marantz DV-4200 is remarkable in the area of standards conversion. Not only is it capable of converting NTSC DVDs to PAL-50 (which all Australian TVs are capable of displaying, unlike PAL-60 which not all of them can display), but it is also capable of converting PAL DVDs to NTSC - a great rarity amongst DVD players, even though it is not something enormously useful in Australia. Note that this PAL to NTSC conversion is specifically denied in the accompanying manual, although the player most certainly performed it. The standards conversions both ways are superb, with just the slightest jerkiness betraying the non-native video output format. Certainly, these functions are more than adequate for all those that would need them.

CDR & Video CD

    The Marantz DV-4200 plays back Video CDs, both pressed and burnt, without any obvious problems.

Audio Playback

    I tested the Marantz DV-4200 through its optical digital output and found it to be perfectly satisfactory. It played back all of the titles I used to test it without any real problems.

    Subjectively, I did not encounter any real audio sync problems. Objectively, the digital to analogue delay of this DVD player was 12 milliseconds, which will make the most extreme of audio sync problems just discernable to the most sensitive of viewers. The majority will never notice an audio sync problem that can be blamed on the player.

    DTS digital output is supported by the DV-4200. MPEG audio bitstreams are output as either Linear PCM or native MPEG depending upon the setup of the player. 96kHz Linear PCM can either be outputted natively or downconverted to 48kHz Linear PCM depending upon player setup.

MP3 Discs

    The Marantz DV-4200 is capable of MP3 playback, and accomplishes this via a simple GUI with the contents of a disc displayed in a column down the left side of the screen. A column on the right shows what, if anything, the user has programmed into memory for controlled playback. Navigation through this screen is somewhat clumsy, but serviceable.

    The Marantz DV-4200 found all of the 110 files on both of the discs I have where the files are all in the root directory or split over five subdirectories. It also managed to find all five files on my multisession CD-R. The only genuine complaint I have about the MP3 playback capability of this player is that it takes an amazingly long time between tracks to load and begin playback.

    The Marantz DV-4200 played back 128 Kb/s, 256 Kb/s, 320 Kb/s, and Variable Bit Rate MP3 files with no apparent problems.
 

Test Disc Format (all Princo CDRs)

Results

110 MP3s in root directory Found all files
110 MP3s in 5 subdirectories Found all files
128Kb/s, 256Kb/s, 320Kb/s and Variable Bit Rate
Multisession CDR (4 sessions, each with one added MP3)

Disc Compatibility Tests

Specific Tests
Disc

What Is Tested

Results

Snatch R4
Stealing Stones

Tests active subtitle feature, seamless branching, ability to load hybrid DVD/DVD-ROM and audio sync.

Pulp Fiction R4
Audio Sync

Opening scene tests audio sync.

Terminator: SE R4
Menu Load

Tests ability to load complex menu

Independence Day R4 Seamless Branching

Tests ability to handle seamless branching (Chapter 3)

Hollow Man R1
RCE

Tests ability to handle RCE protected DVDs in Auto multizone mode (if applicable).

User Convenience Features

Screen Saver

Zoom

, up to six-step

Overall

The Good Points
The Bad Points

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Conversion NTSC to PAL-50; PAL to NTSC
Inbuilt Decoder None

In Closing

    Often, when I overhear conversations about DVD-Video players lately, I hear about how cheaply one person can get a player, with no thought towards whether said player will meet basic playback requirements. The Marantz DV-4200 proves that it is still worth spending an extra few dollars to ensure one gets a decent player, with playback quality that is hard to fault, and everything that all but the most experienced user could want. 

Ratings (out of 5)

Performance
Build Quality
In Operation
Compatibility
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

Product Type: DVD-Video, Video CD, Audio CD and MP3 player
Region: Marked as Zone 4 (Australia/New Zealand & South America), but played Region 1 discs, too
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Serial Number Of Unit Tested: MZ000135000436
MPEG Decoder: Mediamatics Pantera 2
Audio Frequency Response: DVD: fs = 96 kHz 4 Hz - 44 kHz
          fs = 48 kHz 4 Hz - 22 kHz
CD:   4 Hz - 20 kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio: More than 105 dB (EIAJ)
Dynamic Range: More than 100 dB (EIAJ)
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.003%
Dimensions: 17.3" (w) x 3.5" (d) x 10.0" (h)
Weight: 6.6kg
Price: $799
Distributor: Qualifi
24 Lionel Road
Mt. Waverley, Victoria 3149
Telephone: (03) 9543-1522
Facsimile:  
Email: info@qualifi.com.au

Dean McIntosh
June 19, 2002