The Pioneer DV-533K's front panel is somewhat cramped. This is partly because of the relatively low height of the player, but there is also a fair amount of unused space to the left of the disc tray, which could have been used to place larger, more user-friendly buttons. The left side of this player has a soft power on/off switch, which takes the player into or out of standby mode, something that can also be done via the remote control.
In the centre of the front panel is the disc tray, which opens very rapidly and quietly when the eject pushed is pressed, either in power-on or standby mode.
Beneath the disc tray, we have a series of basic navigation buttons, and this is my biggest gripe about the DV-533K: the buttons are too small to comfortably operate without strong light. The Fast Forward and Reverse buttons, which also double as the Chapter Skip buttons, are easy enough to identify, although they are very small, which makes me glad they are grouped a good distance away from the other buttons that are in this small rectangular shape: the Pause and Stop buttons. On the left of these four rectangular buttons is the Eject button, which is a round shape with the appropriate symbol printed on it. On the right of these four rectangular buttons is the Play button, which is also a round shape with the appropriate symbol printed on it.
Finally, between the power on/off switch and the basic navigation buttons one can find a microphone input, a volume knob, and an echo effect knob. These are part of the karaoke functions of this player, which I didn't test.
The rear panel of this player contains all the basic functions you'll need from a player, and nothing that you won't. From left to right, we have the following:
However, the relative positions of the arrow key mechanism and the Play button had me pressing Play often when I meant to press the down button, and the close proximity of the Last Memory button to the Power On/Off button had me frequently looking at the remote whenever I attempted to use a button in the top row. The location of the Audio, Subtitle, Angle, Setup, Menu, and Top Menu buttons was something of an annoyance for me, with these buttons being indistinct from several surrounding buttons, and therefore easy to miss. I presume that if one uses this remote in slightly better light than is normal for most home theatres, they will eventually become used to the locations of the buttons and these minor problems with the layout will become a non-issue.
The operating range of this remote control was perfectly satisfactory, with the player responding quickly to all inputs within the quoted thirty-degree angles of the manual. I suspect that this is the sort of remote that gets easier to use over a long period of use, making it hard to evaluate on the basis of the short time I had it for. It is by no means perfect, but it is certainly a lot closer than a lot of other remote controls I could mention.
The Pioneer DV-533K produces a smooth, highly detailed image that I enjoyed watching, with fine details and subtle steps of colour rendered well. Fields of colour tended to be very smooth and clean, with no detectable chroma noise in The Ultimate DVD Platinum's purity test. Rather than compromise on the video quality in order to provide a player with numerous features that may never get any use, Pioneer seem to have elected to make sure the image this player produces is of high quality.
The Pioneer DV-533K is marked as a Region 4 player, and it would only play Region 4 DVDs.
The Fast Forward and Fast Reverse functions of this player were quite reasonably implemented, with speeds of 1X, 2X, and 3X being possible. One aspect of these functions that pleased me on the Pioneer DV-533K is that the point in the title indicated by the picture on screen and the actual point where the disc was searching closely matched, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of fast forwarding to a specific scene, especially on DVD titles where there are an inadequate number of Chapter stops.
Layer changes were handled acceptably on this player, with a slight pause and a brief pop in the soundtrack keeping me fully aware of when the player was negotiating the change. Suffice it to say that this player is no better or worse in this regard than other players in a similar price range.
Popular subtitle languages such as English, Dutch, Swedish, or Portuguese, are rendered with their full names on the on-screen display. Slightly less common languages such as Finnish, on the other hand, are displayed as "fi", making it hard to tell exactly when the right language has been selected for viewers of some nationalities.
Subjectively, there were no discernible problems with audio sync. I viewed passages from several films where I felt any difference from how the film was meant to be shown would be noticeable, and I found no lag between movement and sound. I was unable to objectively measure the audio sync, but I don't think anyone is going to notice a problem here.
DTS Audio bitstreams can be set to be output to the receiver in their native format or be turned off altogether. There is no provision for downconverting DTS into Linear PCM, or any other format for that matter, on this player. MPEG Audio bitstreams can be set to either output in their native format, or be converted into Linear PCM for those who do not possess an MPEG decoder. The Pioneer DV-533K does a good job of converting such bitstreams, which makes a nice change from the deafening silence I normally hear whenever my reference player encounters an MPEG soundtrack. 96 kHz Linear PCM output is supported by this player, and it can be set to either play these soundtracks back in their native form, or to downconvert them into 48 kHz, depending on your preference.
The MP3 files contained on any MP3 disc are listed in a quasi-Windows style, with the file names in a scroll-down list that truncates the filenames into eight-letter representations. Those who intend to use this player as a quasi-jukebox are advised to keep the length of your filenames at or under eight characters. In spite of this one minor complaint, however, the graphical menu style for the MP3 function made locating and playing back one's preferred MP3s a real breeze.
The Pioneer DV-533K played back 128 Kb/s, 256 Kb/s, and 320 Kb/s MP3 files with no apparent problems. It was also surprising to note that in spite of the explicit statement that the player would not do this contained within the manual, the DV-533K also found and played a Variable Bit Rate MP3 test file.
The Random function also works quite well on the
Pioneer DV-533K, with an amusing display of spinning track numbers whenever
the player searches for the next file to play. This function is also useful
at parties, although I do recommend using it with a disc that is absolutely
filled to capacity.
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||Played 128Kb/s, 256Kb/s, 320Kb/s, and Variable Bit Rate files|
|Multisession CDR (4 sessions, each with one added MP3)||Only found the first session.|
|Pulp Fiction R4
|Terminator: SE R4
|Independence Day R4 Seamless Branching||
|Hollow Man R1
|Video||Component Output||RGB Output|
|Audio||DTS Output||MP3 Playback|
|Value For Money|
|Product Type:||DVD-Video, Super Video CD, Video CD, MP3, and Audio CD player|
|Region:||Zone 4 (Australia/New Zealand & South America)|
|Signal System:||PAL / NTSC|
|Serial Number Of Unit Tested:||AGMP000830CD|
|MPEG Decoder:||Mitsubishi M65774BFR|
|Audio Frequency Response:||4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)|
|Signal to Noise Ratio:||118dB|
|Total Harmonic Distortion:||0.0016%|
|Dimensions:||420 (w) x 284 (d) x 55 (h)|
|Distributor:||Pioneer Electronics Australia Pty Ltd
178-184 Boundary Road
Braeside VIC 3195
|Telephone:||(03) 9586 6300|
|Facsimile:||(03) 9587 1495|
© Dean McIntosh
November 23rd, 2001