Palsonic DVD-5000

    Novice users of DVD-Video are a funny lot, often wanting a player that will do everything they think is required for the cheapest price possible, not realising that quality comes at a certain cost. Those of us with slightly more knowledge about the virtues and pitfalls of the format know better. The Palsonic DVD-5000 is aimed squarely at that market segment who want a DVD player for the cheapest price possible. Indeed, its selling price of $289 was unthinkable in the early days of the format, but there remains one question when dealing with such a player - does it play DVDs as well as one should expect as a minimum standard? The answer to that question for the Palsonic DVD-5000 is a bit mixed, with a lot of operational annoyances detracting from what is, on the surface at least, reasonable playback ability.

What's In The Box

    The following items were found in the box:     Only the essentials are included, although this is to be expected at this price point.

    Upon inspecting the internal structure of this player, I found it to be serviceable but unremarkable, with no standout features that lead me to recommend or condemn the player. However, there is a fair amount of empty space within, and the internal structure, like the exterior, screams the price point loudly enough for anyone to hear.

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 is only available in silver.

Front Panel

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 does not have a very appealing front panel. In fact, if the truth must be told, I have to say that this is one of the uglier looking front panels I have seen amongst the multitude of DVD players I have looked at, both for review and for curiosity purposes. From left to right, we have the following:

    One characteristic of this panel that bothers me is that the Open/Close button is not distinguished from any of the others. As a matter of fact, the Open/Close, Pause, Previous Chapter, Next Chapter, Play, and Stop buttons are all exactly the same shape and set within a close distance of each other. I believe that one could eventually familiarise themselves with this layout, but it is difficult to tell which button you are about to press in a darkened home theatre environment. Another characteristic that some might find annoying is the spinning disc graphic on the fluorescent display, which I learned to tolerate despite the fact that it does not serve any logical purpose.

Rear Panel

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 features a very spartan rear panel with some interesting omissions. From left to right we have:

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 has no provision for Component or RGB video output. Still, the market bracket that this player is aimed at will find all that they need to get started on this rear panel.

Remote Control

    I've seen good remote controls, and I have seen bad remote controls, but the Palsonic DVD-5000 comes with a remote control that is one of the worst I have ever used for any home appliance, due to poor layout and some operational flaws that I will discuss in due course. The VURRC214F contains a lot of empty space that could have been used to better separate the buttons, and some of the buttons are placed in absurd positions.

    At the very top of the remote, from left to right, we have the Standby/On button, the Title button, the Menu button, and the Open/Close button. Placing such a frequently used button as the Menu button right next to the Open/Close button makes little sense, as it is relatively easy to miss the Menu button and instead eject the disc. Below these four buttons are a standard numerical pad to the right, and a vertical row of four buttons: OSD/Setup, Slow Forward, Previous Chapter/Rewind, and Next Chapter/Forward. This is one annoying feature of the remote control - the Chapter Skip buttons have to be held in for some time in order for the player to register such keypresses as an intention to simply fast forward through a title. This is especially irritating considering a further layout flaw in the remote control that I will come to in due course.

    In the centre of the remote control is the arrow key mechanism, which is laid out in a sort of diamond shape with a circular Enter button in the middle. In each corner of the arrow key mechanism, clockwise from the top left, are the Pause/Step, Play, Return, and Stop buttons. These particular buttons are very small and difficult to distinguish from one another without looking at them.

    Below the arrow key mechanism are three rows, each containing four buttons. The second row, however, contains two buttons that have no labelling on them, and have been shown to have no useful function with any of the DVDs I tested this player with! This is unfortunate in light of the clunky and often irritating way that the Chapter Skip and Search buttons are implemented, considering these two buttons could have been used to separate the Search buttons from the Chapter Skip buttons. In the first row, we have the Play Mode, A-B Repeat, Memory, and Timer buttons. In the second row are the Equaliser, Volume/Channel, and the aforementioned two buttons with no apparent function. Finally, on the bottom row, we have the Zoom, Angle, Subtitle, and Audio buttons. Another annoyance with this remote control is that a Prohibited Operation icon often appears when the Zoom button is pressed, which is something I have never seen with the zoom function on any other player.

    An extremely annoying bug in the way that the Palsonic DVD-5000 responds to remote inputs is that, on infrequent occasions, when one presses a button for one specific function, the player will interpret this as another function altogether. This generally happened once every playback session, with (eg) an attempt to activate the Fast Forward function during South Park, Volume 2 resulting in a language change. This problem surfaced quite frequently and became a reason to severely downgrade the performance rating of this player.


    The manual included with this player is thirty-six pages in length, with all of them being in English. The English in this manual is not great. Gems such as the spelling of "ventiltion" or the instruction "Do not let this product play the inferior, deformed, or damaged badly discs. These discs are easy to rive and cause hazards and the breakdown of this product." are scattered throughout. Even more unsettling is the description of the TV Aspect setting of 16:9 as "In this mode the picture appears on the full screen". While the manual is not completely unhelpful in discovering how to operate the player, it is somewhat irritating in the potentially confusing manner that the information is presented.

Set-Up Menu

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 features a text-only Set-Up Menu that offers all the standard options such as subtitle control, menu languages, and so forth. The only control offered over the internal decoder, however, is whether analogue audio is output as two-channel or 5.1-channel, making this player not really suitable for use in setups where digital audio is decoded using the player's internal Dolby Digital decoder. None of the essential decoder calibration options such as the ability to adjust speaker levels, sizes or distances, are provided.

Video Playback

    After calibrating my display and adjusting the settings to my satisfaction, I began testing the image that the Palsonic DVD-5000 produces. It is interesting to note that it uses the same MPEG decoder chip that my reference player, the Toshiba SD-2109, uses.

    The image that the Palsonic DVD-5000 produces is not as good as the Toshiba SD-2109, although it is extremely serviceable and equal to some of the best I have seen in any price range. The image is extremely sharp and detailed, but also rather harsh, which is a characteristic often shared by players based around the Zoran Vaddis III decoder chip. Aliasing artefacts are often more noticeable on this player, but the characteristic vertical skip noticed in a lot of players based around the Zoran Vaddis reference design was not noticed. One interesting artefact that I did notice from this player was that a uniformly-coloured horizontal line, similar in appearance to a tracking error, would occasionally appear.

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 is marked as a Zone 4 player, but it played back my Region 1 versions of Starship Troopers and Hollow Man without a problem, in spite of the latter being protected by RCE.

    The Fast Forward and Fast Reverse functions on this player are extremely clunky and inconsistent in their implementation. These modes have to be entered by pressing the Chapter Skip buttons and holding them for about a second, but then the method by which different speeds are selected is a little harder to discern at first. Essentially, one has to keep holding the buttons in until the speed they want is selected, making it very difficult to Fast Forward to a specific point.

    Layer changes on this player result in a noticeable pause, slightly lengthier ones than I am used to seeing, as a matter of fact. The handling of layer changes was acceptable, given that no disc I tested locked up at this point, but the longer pause was a little too much for my liking.

On Screen Display

    The Palsonic DVD-5000's On Screen Display is average, although it has one outstanding feature that I would like to see more often on DVD players. Simply put, this player will show timing information on discs that normally refuse to do this, such as the last few Doctor Who DVDs that I have reviewed. It is otherwise wholly unremarkable, consisting of two pages that could have easily been rendered as one. The first merely shows the time elapsed and time remaining, while the other page shows this information along with soundtrack, subtitle, chapter, and title information.

Standards Conversions

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 is not capable of any standards conversions.

CDR & Video CD

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 will play back CD-Rs and Video CDs, both burned and pressed.

Audio Playback

    I tested the audio playback capabilities of the Palsonic DVD-5000 through its optical digital output.

    Subjectively, I found no discernable problems with the audio sync of the digital signal from this player, not with the R4 version of Pulp Fiction nor any other disc that I tested. The onscreen display shows all language names as three-letter abbreviations, but that is only a minor issue which is common to the majority of DVD players.

    One rather annoying problem with this DVD player, however, is that it will not output Linear PCM soundtracks and Dolby Digital or DTS soundtracks with the same menu settings. Instead, when the output is set to digital, one hears Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks alright, but a deafening silence is heard when the player encounters any Linear PCM soundtrack, regardless of its resolution. Conversely, the user can set the output to PCM, but then Linear PCM soundtracks can be heard fine while Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks are converted to 16 bit, 48kHz, two-channel Linear PCM soundtracks. This is hardly an ideal situation, and it makes this player unsuitable for use in the average home theatre environment.

    The internal decoder included with this player is only capable of outputting Dolby Digital, meaning that an external decoder of some sort is required to listen to DTS soundtracks. This player also does not handle MPEG soundtracks, not even offering the option to convert them into a format more suitable for use in most home theatre setups.

MP3 Discs

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 is perfectly serviceable in the realm of MP3 playback, although fast forwarding and fast reversing through tracks is not possible with this machine. The GUI for MP3 playback tends to show interlacing flicker, but the Palsonic DVD-5000 rearranges filenames into an almost purely numerical format, thus avoiding any annoying disturbances in the order of playback. The only real problem is that the characteristic pause between files that disrupts listening to songs that segue into one another is still present and accounted for.

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 found all of the 110 files on both the disc I have where the files are all in the root directory, and the disc with the 110 files split over five subdirectories. It only found the first session on my multisession CD-R, however.

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 played back 128 Kb/s, 256 Kb/s, and 320 Kb/s MP3 files with no apparent problems. Attempts to play back the Variable Bit Rate file, however, resulted in a stuttering, glitchy noise that was quite unlistenable.

Test Disc Format (all Princo CDRs)


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 Failed to play the Variable Bit Rate file
Multisession CDR (4 sessions, each with one added MP3) Only found the first session.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    One disc that caused major problems for the Palsonic DVD-5000 was Independence Day, which failed to load various menus, and would only display whatever was last shown with a blue flickering line through it.
Specific Tests
What Is Tested
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)
Unable to test
Hollow Man R1 
Tests ability to handle RCE protected DVDs in Auto multizone mode (if applicable).

User Convenience Features

Screen Saver


The Good Points
The Bad Points

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Inbuilt Decoder Dolby Digital

In Closing

    The Palsonic DVD-5000 is confirmation of the fact that you get what you pay for. With the ability to play back Video CDs, CD-Rs, and MP3s, it might seem like a bargain at $289, but there are numerous operational characteristics of the player that are annoying enough to make me very cautious to say the least about recommending this player. Considering that it fails to load the menus on one popular title, I cannot recommend it unless you want it as a second player to put in the childrens' bedroom or something like that. Even then, I would suggest saving a little more money and looking elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
In Operation
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

Product Type: DVD-Video, Video CD and Audio CD player
Region: Marked as Region 4 (South America/Australia). Review unit played back all zones.
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Serial Number Of Unit Tested: 12L0100721AY
MPEG Decoder: Zoran Vaddis III
Audio Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio: Not stated
Dynamic Range: DVD: 103 dB
CD: 99 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.003%
Dimensions: 430 (w) x 260 (d) x 75 (h) mm
Weight: 3.2 kg
Price: $289
Distributor: Palsonic Corporation Pty Ltd
GPO Box 5207
Sydney  NSW  2001
Telephone: (02) 9313-7111 
Facsimile: (02) 9313-7555 
© Dean McIntosh
March 26, 2002