Noriko DVD-390K DVD Player

    The Noriko DVD-390K is one of a new generation of DVD players that have been introduced to the Australian marketplace. At a recommended retail price of $549, it represents a new low price point for DVD in this country. Whilst it is a "no-frills" DVD player, its performance certainly cannot be described as "no-frills", and its very attractive pricing will make it a popular player at the lower end of the DVD market.

What's In The Box

    Everything you need to get basic audio and video out of this player is included in the box. This includes the remote control, batteries for the remote control, a three-way cable for composite video and analogue audio, and the operating manual. The manual is in very good English, and is easy to read.

    According to the distributors of this player, Megapower, the player will be bundled with a selection of two DVDs and three Video CDs from the following lists, available at purchase;

DVD - Discipline (R-Rated), The Rear Arrangers (R-Rated), Sleaze (R-Rated), Desert Moon (R-Rated), Naked Scandal 1 (R-Rated), Lessons In Love (R-Rated), The Supreme Winner, 1997 Hong Kong Centennial.

Video CD - Armed For Action, Black Forest, Capital Punishment, Passage To Hell, Fire Back, Fighting Spirit, Commando Invasion, Blood Chase, Top Target, Brave Girl.

Front Panel

    The model that I received for evaluation was in basic black, and was a very attractive looking player. It had Karaoke functions, which was reflected in the contents of the front panel.

    The left side of the front panel carries the power on-off switch as well as the level controls and microphone inputs for the Karaoke function.

    The center of the front panel carries the disc tray and the fluorescent display. The disc tray does not fully eject when the tray is opened, and remains partially inside the player. It would be easy to scratch DVDs whilst attempting to insert them, as they need to be very carefully inserted in order to avoid contact with the player's case or the tray. I would consider this a minor design fault of the player.

    The right side of the front panel has the tray open/close button, and the most basic DVD navigation buttons; chapter skip forwards and backwards, play, pause/step and stop. Also present on this side of the front panel are pitch adjustments for the Karaoke function. I was hoping that these would allow for the adjustment of the 4% speed-up in audio on PAL DVDs, but these controls only affect the analogue output from Karaoke DVDs and VCDs.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel of this player continues the relatively spartan approach of the front panel. All essential connectors are there, however.

    Video output consists of both an S-Video connector and a composite video connector. There is no component nor RGB output.

    Digital audio output consists of both a coaxial digital audio output and an optical digital audio output.

    Rounding off the rear panel connectors are a left and right analogue audio output.

Remote Control

    The remote control continues the very basic theme of this player. All essential player functions are accessible from the remote control. A slide-away panel reveals the lesser-used controls, including a numeric keypad. I liked the idea of leaving the lesser-used buttons behind a sliding panel, but these buttons were quite hard to access if they were required.

    I found that this remote control was relatively fussy about the angle at which it would operate, but its operating range and angle was certainly still quite acceptable. The remote is ergonomically-shaped, and fitted into the palm of my hand comfortably. The buttons themselves are a little hard to push, but they are easy to get used to.

    There were two minor annoyances in regards to operating the remote control. Firstly, the arrow keys and the menu key are marked in dark red - completely impossible to see in the near-darkness of the typical home theatre environment. Secondly, the only key that the player would respond to from stand-by mode was the Power key. A much more sensible approach would have been to allow the Open/Close and the Play keys to also activate the player.

Video Playback

    Before I commenced examining this player's video output quality, I changed the video output setting to 16x9 mode - the factory default setting sensibly being to output in 4x3 mode.

    So, how did it perform on the actual playback of DVDs? Surprisingly well, actually. This player is no slouch in the video output department at all. I watched several movies from my reference collection on this player via both the S-Video and the composite video connectors, and found it to be the video equal of my Pioneer DV-505. There were subtle differences in the picture quality - the Noriko player had ever-so-slightly more colour saturation apparent - but these would certainly not be apparent on anything but the closest of inspections.

    The manual and the player itself are marked as Zone 4, however I had no problems playing back various Zone 1 and Zone 4 DVDs.

    The fast foward and fast reverse functions are quite smooth, and both x2 and x4 speeds are available in either direction.

    A nice touch is the implementation of the reverse chapter skip function, which will skip to the chapter before the current one rather than to the start of the current chapter, as some other DVD players do.

    I tried the player's performance on several RSDL discs, and was surprised to find that many of them showed no pause whatsoever at the layer change - a remarkable feat considering the fact that many other DVD players will show at least a split-second pause at the layer change.

    The manual expressly warns against using CD-Rs in this DVD player, so I did not test this. Neither did I test its compatibility with Video CD, though the manual did state that the player is compatible with this format.

    The player is not capable of performing any standards conversion between NTSC and PAL, so PAL discs must be watched on a PAL-compatible display device and NTSC discs must be watched on an NTSC-compatible display device.

On Screen Display

    Other than an attractive start-up screen, the on-screen display is very basic indeed, with Chapter and Title time and time remaining being the only options for display. Very little information is presented at other times, such as when the audio channels or subtitles are changed.

Audio Playback

    Pioneer owners will be happy to hear that there are no audio sync problems with this player. I tested a number of discs that are notoriously out of sync on Pioneer players, and they all played back perfectly.

    I found that a significant amount of the time my Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital processor would not immediately lock on to the signal coming from the coaxial digital output of the Noriko DVD player, and I would have to change the input channel of the processor away from the DVD player and then back again to get the Dolby Digital signal to be recognized, after which time there was no audio problem.

    DTS output is not supported by this DVD player.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    I tested a number of known problem discs on this machine, and had essentially no problems. The discs tested were;
Fargo R4 Played back flawlessly. Earlier Pioneer players locked up during the opening credits on this disc.
The Four Feathers R4 Played back flawlessly. Earlier Pioneer players locked up at Chapter 8 on this disc.
The Rock R1 Played back flawlessly. Some early region-modified players had problems playing this disc.
Pretty Woman R1 Played back flawlessly.
Various Village Roadshow discs of recent vintage; Lost In Space, Rounders, Analyze This, 54 All of these discs showed some minor menu glitches. Generally, this consisted of the movie starting immediately instead of the player going directly to the main menu as it should have. When you returned to the main menu manually, the menu functioned correctly. More importantly, however, all of these discs played back with audio sync intact.
Turbulence R4 Played back flawlessly. A number of Toshiba DVD players have problems with the authoring of this disc and cannot play it back.
The Matrix R1 Reportedly, this locks up whilst loading and is being looked at by the manufacturer of the player.
[Addendum 19th November 1999:A new EPROM resolves this problem.]




    If all you want to do is to play DVDs at minimal expense, then you can't go far wrong with the Noriko DVD-390K.

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 4 (Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America, Mexico). Review unit able to play all zones.
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Audio Frequency Response: DVD: 4Hz - 22kHz (48kHz sampling)
DVD: 4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
CD: 20Hz - 20kHz (44.1kHz sampling)
Signal to Noise Ratio: More than 93dB
Dynamic Range: Above 85dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: Equal or less than 0.010%
Dimensions: 430 (w) x 300 (d) x 85 (h)
Weight: 4.2 kg
Price: $549
Distributor: Megapower Products Pty Ltd
29 Albert Ave
Chatswood, NSW, 2145
Telephone: (02) 9410-0888
Facsimile: (02) 9410-1888

© Michael Demtschyna
22nd October 1999
Amended 19th November 1999
Amended 19th February 2000