The player itself is, well, let's not mince words here, it is ugly. Hide this one inside of a hi-fi cabinet or underneath a TV - I can assure you that you won't be showing this player's sleek lines off to your friends. It is not as wide as a typical DVD player and it is a little higher than most players. In fact, it looks more like a mid-mount VCR than a DVD player. Still, at this end of the market, aesthetics take a back seat to cost considerations. You can purchase this player in any colour you like, as long as you like black.
The left side of the front panel carries the hard-wired power on-off switch.
The center of the front panel carries the disc tray and the green fluorescent display. The disc open/close mechanism was very noisy and sounded very clunky and cheap. I expected springs to come flying out of the player every time I opened or closed the disc tray, but thankfully this never occurred. Fortunately, whilst actually playing DVDs, the mechanism is relatively quiet. The fluorescent display is reminiscent of a very old calculator display, with clearly visible green dots making up the characters on the display, and some unevenness in brightness across the digits. The fluorescent display cannot be dimmed or turned off. This whole area of the DVD player screams "cheap" and "budget".
The right side of the front panel has the tray open/close button, and the basic DVD navigation buttons; chapter skip forwards and backwards, play, and stop. Pressing the tray open/close button resulted in the disc tray opening or closing appropriately, after a significant delay of almost a second. Pressing this button when the player is OFF will turn the player on and open the disc tray which is the way I like this particular button to work. The tray itself is slightly problematic in that it does not open fully and care must be taken to ensure that DVDs are inserted without scratching them.
The rear panel of this player is equipped with a basic selection of outputs. From left to right;
The digital audio outputs consist of both a coaxial digital output and an optical digital output.
The video outputs consist of an S-Video output and two composite video outputs. There is no component nor RGB video output available on this player.
Audio outputs consist of a left and right analogue audio output.
The 240V AC cable finishes off the rear panel.
By far the biggest button on this remote control is the PLAY button which sits at the bottom of the remote, in the middle. At last someone has given this button the treatment it deserves! The PLAY button is by far the most often used button on a DVD remote control, so it is logical that it is the biggest and most readily accessible button on the entire remote control. In addition, the PLAY button has an embossed PLAY symbol on it. Very classy.
Flanking the PLAY button, shaped and embossed appropriately, are the REWIND and FAST FORWARD buttons. Again, this is the logical place for these buttons and the layout of this remote control makes it easy to bounce from these buttons to the PLAY button. The REWIND and FAST FORWARD functions do not lock in at all and the player will return to PLAY mode as soon as these buttons are released. I found this to be easy to adapt to and quite a nice implementation of these functions.
Above the REWIND and PLAY keys respectively are the PAUSE and STOP buttons. Once again, these are oversized and embossed making them easy to locate and operate. However, here I do have a minor quibble with the designers of this remote. The PAUSE button is on the left and the STOP button is in the middle of the remote. To me, a more logical layout for these controls would be for these buttons to be reversed. Having said that, both these buttons are large and so it is easy to get used to this positioning.
The arrow keys and select keys are small and located to the left of the remote control. This is probably the worst point of the remote control - these keys are a little too small and would have been better placed in the middle of the remote control.
Another series of keys which are less than ideally placed are the AUDIO, ANGLE, and SUBTITLE buttons, which are relatively inconspicuously placed in the middle of the remote control. As well as being less than ideally placed, their functionality is less than ideal. To change subtitles or audio, you need to press the appropriate button first and then use the arrow keys to change the track. This is very unwieldy and runs counter to the more usual operation of these keys on other remote controls, which is to have the audio or subtitle track change with sequential presses of the same button.
Finally, I would like to make specific mention of the numeric keys, which are round and located towards the top of the remote control. Once again, the different shape of these keys makes them easy to differentiate from their neighbours and makes them quite easy to use.
The operating range and angle of operation of the remote control were excellent, and much better than a number of remotes that I have used recently.
Video was passably clear and crisp, but noticeably inferior to the video output of other DVD players that I have tested. In particular, I compared the video output of this DVD player directly with the video output of a Toshiba 2109 and found that the Toshiba 2109 looked significantly sharper and cleaner. Colour saturation was a little high compared with other DVD players as well as being less clear and clean, with visible chroma noise being inserted into the video signal at a low level.
Something that was particularly problematic and disappointing for this DVD player was the skips it would produce in video and audio playback when watching high bitrate PAL DVDs. The transport mechanism and MPEG decoder were simply not up to the task of decoding the most demanding DVDs in real time. The two specific DVDs that exhibited this problem were The Magic Sword-Quest For Camelot and The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). This was a genuine shame, as this player was otherwise perfectly acceptable. This was not a problem which happened often, but by golly it was annoying when it did happen, with a sound similar to that produced by a severely scratched CD accompanied by rapidly stuttering video output. High bitrate NTSC source material (Video Essentials image montage) was not a problem.
The player is marked as a Zone 4 player, and is marketed
as such. The evaluation unit that I was supplied with would only play DVDs
coded as Region 4 or Region 0.
[Addendum 31st March 2000 - One of my readers has advised that a specific key press sequence is able to render the Orion DVKT DVD player region-free.]
[Addendum 30th June 2000 - This information comes from the aus.dvd newsgroup. I have no knowledge of whether or not this actually works, so use it at your own risk.
"To bring up the secret menu on the Orion DVKT you press and hold the Stop, Open/Close, and Skip Forward buttons on the player for about 3 secs until the menu comes up. Do this from the blue screen (no disc in). Once you get the menu up you can choose Regions 1,2,3,4,5,6 or RegionFree. Set it to RegionFree and it should work for 99% of discs. For those tricky ones that won't work you'll need to specifically fix your player to that region."]
[Addendum 18th April 2001 - I have had it confirmed by a reader that the above region hack works.]
The fast forward and fast reverse functions are average in their smoothness and work only whilst the relevant button on the remote control is held down, with the function getting faster if the button is held down longer than five seconds. Personally, I quite liked this particular approach to the operation of this particular DVD function.
The reverse chapter skip function will return to the start of the current chapter rather than to the previous chapter. I prefer the other implementation of this function, which is for the player to skip to the previous chapter when this button is selected.
RSDL layer changes were noticeable, but only just, with the typical layer change heralded by no perceptible pause in the audio and video bitstream and only a slight sound emanating from the DVD player to give away the layer change point. The very worst layer changes resulted in a barely perceptible pause in the audio and video streams. The player behaved somewhat oddly when rewinding over the RSDL point, and would insist upon jumping immediately to the next Chapter as soon as the rewind button was released. This was very strange considering that the video output exhibited by the DVD player whilst rewinding over the RSDL point was perfectly correct.
A single NTSC Video CD that I briefly tried in this machine played back converted automatically to PAL.
Subjectively, there were no audio sync problems. It was not possible to objectively measure the analogue vs digital delay on this DVD player since you could not output both types of audio at the same time.
DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player, but I did not test this. Linear PCM audio output at 96kHz/24 bit sample depth is not supported by this player.
MPEG bitstream conversion to Linear PCM is performed automatically when the digital audio output is selected. This is a reasonable choice given the target audience of this DVD player, though the very few DVDs out there with only MPEG audio on them will be played back downconverted mandatorily with no option of using an external MPEG decoder.
The Magic Sword-Quest For Camelot suffered from the occasional skip in the audio and video bitstream.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) suffered badly from audio and video skips during playback. To confirm that it was not the DVD, I played this disc back in its entirety on a Toshiba 2109 with no errors exhibited.
The Matrix Region 4 played back with no problem, even in White Rabbit mode, and neither did a variety of other discs that made their way through the Orion DVKT player.
|Video||Component Output||RGB Output|
|Audio||DTS Output||96/24 Output|
|Plays CDRs||The manual states that this player cannot play CDRs, but testing showed that it can.|
|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|
|Audio Frequency Response:||4Hz - 22kHz|
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||90dB|
|Total Harmonic Distortion:||0.01%|
|Dimensions:||380 (w) x 259 (d) x 96.5 (h)|
|Distributor:||Castel Electronics Pty Ltd
103-119 Gipps Street
Collingwood VIC 3066
© Michael Demtschyna
19th February 2000
Amended 31st March 2000
Amended 30th June 2000
Amended 18th April 2001