"What's the difference between the Pioneer DV-535 and the Pioneer DV-344?". Not a lot, really, when it comes down to it.
The Pioneer DV-344 has a basic and functional front panel.
The left side of the front panel carries the soft power on-off switch. Pressing this button takes the player in and out of stand-by mode. Stand-by mode can also be entered via the remote control.
The center of the front panel carries a smoothly-operating and relatively quiet disc tray mechanism and an orange, non-dimmable fluorescent display. The disc mechanism recognizes the type of media inserted relatively quickly.
The right side of the front panel carries basic DVD navigation buttons. The buttons have a slightly 'budget' feel about them, but are perfectly functional. Pressing either the Disc Eject or Play buttons whilst the player is in stand-by mode will activate the player and perform the appropriate function (as it should be for all DVD players but often isn't).
The rear panel of this player is equipped with a good selection of outputs. From left to right, we have;
Those familiar with other Pioneer models will note that there is no PAL/NTSC/Auto switch on the rear panel. This functionality has been retained via a power-up front panel keypress sequence.
This time around, I won't be quite so glowing about the remote control. Yes, it's still a very good remote control, but my response to it was not as positive this time. I don't know why this was - perhaps familiarity breeds contempt?
The remote control is based around a circular arrow and enter key arrangement, with oft-used keys located around this mechanism. A small pimple on most of the critical keys aids in location of the keys in the dark, making this remote control a breeze to use in the dark. A small criticism is that the arrow keys are a tad too narrow for completely comfortable operation.
The AUDIO, SUBTITLE, ANGLE and MENU buttons are placed badly and are difficult to locate, but that is the only significant negative aspect of this remote control.
The operating range and angle of operation of this remote control were excellent. In particular, I found that the unit would respond to remote control keypresses from quite extreme lateral angles, certainly well beyond the 30º angle claimed in the manual.
Pleasingly, every option available on this player, no matter how esoteric, is given adequate, detailed and understandable coverage in this manual.
More advanced users will be pleased to find full control over the digital output of Dolby Digital, DTS, MPEG and Linear PCM audio, even to the extent of this player allowing the output of 96kHz Linear PCM digitally, something that many DVD players do not allow.
I have found that Pioneer DVD players in general are capable of producing a very film-like image from film-based source material. The Pioneer DV-344 is no exception, producing a very smooth and yet detailed image from film material which is very pleasant and non-fatiguing to watch. I noted no MPEG decoder anomalies.
Video-based source material did not fare quite as well as film-based source material. Scan lines became discernible when interlaced material rapidly panned, more so than with other DVD players that I have seen. This is really quite a subtle effect, and so only degrades the image quality ever-so-slightly, and seems to be a characteristic of the Fujitsu MPEG decoder solutions used in Pioneer DVD players.
Chroma noise, particularly in deep blue areas of the image, is slightly more evident from the DV-344 than it is from some other DVD players. This is not normally a problem with most programme material, but does lessen the presentation quality of some music videos which exhibit lots of deep blues. There is no luma noise, so deep blacks are unaffected.
The review player was marked as a Zone 4 player, and only played back appropriately zoned DVDs.
The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this player are quite jerky in comparison to other DVD players. The functioning of the remote control for these functions is a little unusual, with the appropriate button needing to be held down for approximately 10 seconds before it locks into either fast forward or fast reverse mode. Otherwise, the mode ceases the instant the button is released. In some ways, this is a good implementation of these functions, with short rewinds or fast forwards able to be accomplished easily. In other ways, this is a little counter-intuitive. It's something that owners of this player will undoubtedly get used to soon enough. In the initial stage, the player seems to fast forward or reverse at x4 speed. When locked in, the fast forward or reverse speed seems to speed up to approximately x8.
RSDL layer changes resulted in a short pause of the order of 1/4 - 1/2 second.
The DVD player knows a fair number of full names for languages, so you either get the full name of the language displayed or a two letter abbreviation if the player does not recognize the language in question.
Functional key-presses on the remote are accompanied by various text messages appearing on-screen.
Subjectively, there were no audio sync problems whatsoever noted with this player which could not be attributed to the source material being used. Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay in this player was 0 milliseconds, consistent with the observed lack of audio sync problems.
DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player. MPEG audio bitstreams are output as either Linear PCM or native MPEG depending upon the setup of the player.
|The Matrix R4
Follow The White Rabbit
|Pulp Fiction R4
|Terminator: SE R4
|Independence Day R4 Seamless Branching||
|The Patriot R1
No audio sync problems.
Decent quality remote control.
Fast, responsive and quiet tray mechanism.
Outputs 96kHz Linear PCM digitally.
Moderate degree of chroma noise.
|Video||Component Output||RGB Output|
|Audio||DTS Output||MP3 Playback|