The Philips DVD-711 has an acceptably functional front panel, with a number of mildly annoying characteristics.
The left side of the front panel carries a hard power on-off switch. Stand-by mode can be entered with the remote control.
The center of the front panel carries a bright, large-digit fluorescent display and the disc tray. The blue fluorescent display is attractive to look at, with very large and clear digits and a relatively non-annoying disc spinning graphic. The display cannot be dimmed. The disc tray sounds somewhat clunky when opening and closing, but the mechanism is very quiet when a disc is actually playing.
To the right of the fluorescent display is an annoyingly-placed SOUND button, which selects pseudo-surround audio modes. This button is placed exactly where I would expect the OPEN/CLOSE button to be placed, which itself is located immediately below this button. I inadvertently pressed the SOUND button more than once when attempting to eject a DVD. Pressing the OPEN/CLOSE button when the DVD player is in stand-by mode will result in the DVD player merely turning itself on, meaning that you have to press this key twice, with some delay in between presses, to actually turn on the player and eject the disc tray. This is a minor operational irritation of this player.
The main DVD navigation buttons are arranged in a circular arrangement at the extreme right of the player, with the PLAY button taking up the top half of the circle and the CHAPTER SKIP FORWARDS and BACKWARDS taking up the bottom half of the circle. These buttons double as the FAST FORWARD and REWIND buttons if they are held down for more than a second. Flanking this circular arrangement are PAUSE and STOP buttons. Personally, I don't like the look of such circular arrangements, but it certainly was easy enough to operate.
The rear panel of this player is equipped with a reasonable selection of outputs. From left to right, we have;
The centrepiece of this remote control are the teardrop-shaped arrow keys. The OK key is above and to the right of this mechanism, which is a major flaw of this remote. The teardrop-shaped keys are too small, and the OK key should have been placed in the middle of these keys.
In contrast to these keys, the SUBTITLE, ANGLE and AUDIO keys are nicely laid out below the arrow keys, and are a fluorescent orange colour, easy to locate in the dark. The OSD Menu key is also presented in this fluorescent orange colour, making it just as easy to locate in the dark. Unfortunately, the DVD Menu key is located opposite the OSD key and these two keys subsequently become quite easy to confuse, both being prominently labelled MENU.
The main DVD navigation buttons are located towards the bottom of the remote. My only criticism of their placement is that it is relatively easy to press the STOP key inadvertently.
The operating range and angle of operation of the remote control were acceptable without being spectacular.
The Philips DVD-711 cannot pass a blacker-than-black NTSC video signal, which makes setting the appropriate black level for the player somewhat tricky. An additional complication is introduced by the Black Level Shift setup parameter in the Setup Menu, which raises the level of black artificially for NTSC DVDs. Once this was disabled, and the black level of the player was set to my satisfaction, I proceeded with the evaluation of the player.
The Philips DVD-711 produced a truly excellent image, with very finely detailed foreground and background information able to be resolved by this player, well-and-truly belying its budget pricing. In fact, the ability of this player to resolve fine image detail is second-to-none, and right up there with the very best players that I have seen in this regard.
Some very minor chroma noise was inserted into the video signal, most commonly on large expanses of blue in the image. This was extremely minor and not at all bothersome and certainly on a par with the better players that I have evaluated.
I noted a very subtle herringbone banding on some areas of colour whilst watching the Video Essentials Image Montage. This effect was extremely subtle and was right on the limit of perceptibility. This artefact was not observed at all on any other DVDs that I played on this DVD player, with the player producing a rock-steady and immaculate image at all other times.
The manual indicated that the player was a Zone 4 player, however it played the one Region 1 DVD that I sampled with no complaints. I checked this with Philips and was advised that production models of this player are zoned Region 4 only.
The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this player are of average smoothness. 4x and 32x speeds are available. The manual states that a x8 speed is also available, however, this is not the case.
RSDL layer changes resulted in a short pause, typically of the order of 1/4 - 1/2 second.
Of particular note is the Resume function. If a disc has been paused or prematurely stopped, reinsertion of this disc will bring up the Resume icon which will respond to a key press even if the disc would not normally allow it at that point. This is a very well-implemented and user-friendly feature.
One negative aspect of the on screen display is that it is impossible to stop the multi-angle icon from appearing on screen, and it does not disappear until the multi-angle content has completed.
A notable omission from the On Screen Display is the omission of full names for subtitle tracks. Instead of English, we get 'en'. This is just fine for the more common languages, but working out what subtitle languages 'iw' (Hebrew) and 'hr' (Croatian) are is not easy.
Functional key-presses on the remote are accompanied by various mostly indecipherable icons appearing on-screen.
Subjectively, there were no audio sync problems. Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay was 1 millisecond, which is consistent with this player never exhibiting an audio sync problem with any disc that can be blamed on the player.
DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player. MPEG audio bitstreams are output as native MPEG only.
Nicely-implemented Resume function.
Well-designed and easy to operate on-screen display.
Excellent value for money.
Oddly-placed SOUND button on the front panel which is easily mistaken for the OPEN/CLOSE button.
Pressing the OPEN/CLOSE button from STANDBY mode merely turns the player on instead of both turning the player on and ejecting the disc tray.
The on-screen multi-angle icon cannot be disabled.
The fluorescent display cannot be dimmed.
The player cannot pass a blacker-than-black NTSC signal.
|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), although the test unit played back discs from all regions|
|Signal System:||PAL / NTSC|
|Audio Frequency Response:||4Hz - 22kHz (48kHz sampling)
4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||103dB|
|Total Harmonic Distortion:|
|Dimensions:||435 (w) x 320 (d) x 92 (h)|
|Distributor:||Philips Consumer Electronics Australia
3 Figtree Drive
Homebush NSW 2140
|Telephone:||1 300 850 633|
© Michael Demtschyna
20th September 2000