Start 2010VNK v2 DVD Player

    A while back, I reviewed the Start SD-2010VNK DVD player, and was not overly impressed with it. Start have gone back to the drawing board and returned with a player that has had most of the issues I had with the first version of this player resolved, and additionally have added further functionality to the player.

    The Start SD-2010VNK v2 DVD player is a player that is targeted at the "plays everything" market segment. It plays DVDs, CDs, CD-Rs, Video CDs and MP3 CDs.

    This particular market segment is crowded with players priced at around $500. I have tested a number of these players, all of which have significant flaws, and none of which have performed all of their claimed functions to my satisfaction. The Start SD-2010VNK v2 is priced above these other market entrants, with a suggested retail price of $999. However, for the very first time, I can confidently recommend this player to those of you who are after a "plays everything" DVD player as one which performs all of the tasks that it promises to perform, and performs them very well indeed. There are a few minor operational niggles with the player, but there are most definitely no major flaws with the player, which is more than I can say for any other entrant in this market segment.

What's In The Box

    The following items are included with each player;     The Start SD-2010VNK v2 is only available in Champagne.

Front Panel

    The front panel layout and functionality of the Start SD-2010VNK v2 is exactly the same as the v1 player that it replaces. Only the internal circuitry has changed. Accordingly, I have replicated and slightly expanded my comments on the front panel from my previous review of the v1 player.

    The left side of the front panel carries the power on-off switch and the controls and sockets for Karaoke mode. The power on-off switch is a microswitch and hence has quite a soft touch about it and will place the player either in ON mode or in STANDBY mode. STANDBY mode can also be entered with the remote control.

    The center of the front panel carries the disc tray and the fluorescent display. This display cannot be dimmed, and is a little too busy for my liking.

    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, PAUSE and STOP. Additionally, a MENU button is present. On the surface this seems like a nice inclusion, but in practice it is essentially useless for DVD playback as there are no arrow keys to allow menu navigation. Pressing the tray OPEN/CLOSE button does not turn the player on if it is in STANDBY mode, which is a minor annoyance.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel of this player is equipped with a excellent selection of outputs. From left to right;

Remote Control

    Whilst this is not the worst remote control I have ever seen, it isn't far off it. Other than the nicely laid out arrow and Select (Enter) keys, there seems little rhyme nor reason about the layout of the rest of the controls. The PLAY/PAUSE button in particular is very badly placed and takes a lot of getting used to. My wife stared at this particular remote for some minutes before figuring out where this button was, which is never a good sign. I found the button easily, but only because I knew where it was from prior experience with this particular remote control.

    The DISPLAY, AUDIO and SUBTITLE buttons are all but impossible to locate and the MENU key even more so.

    The operating range and angle of operation of the remote control were also not fantastic, with the player insisting on the remote control being at quite a shallow angle to the player for remote control keypresses to be recognized. The player also tended to respond very sluggishly to remote control keypresses.


    The manual for the Start SD-2010VNK v2 is readable despite it suffering moderately from Chinese to English translation anomalies. With a modicum of perseverance, however, you can find all of the information that you need to know about the operation of this DVD player contained within its sometimes quite brief and terse pages. There is one specific error I noted in the manual, which was that it exhorts users to connect the center and subwoofer outputs of the DVD player to the left and right audio inputs of a TV - most inappropriate.

Set-Up Menu

    The set-up menu of the Start SD-2010VNK v2 is text-based but surprisingly comprehensive. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that full control is afforded over the inbuilt Dolby Digital decoder, always something that I am pleased to see within a setup menu.

Video Playback

    All video playback tests were performed with the player set to 16x9 output mode, utilizing its S-Video output.

    Based around a perennial favourite MPEG decoder chip of mine, the C-Cube ZiVA-3, the Start SD-2010VNK v2 produced very nice quality images indeed, albeit a little on the soft side. There were no MPEG decoding anomalies, and the only two minor glitches I noted with the video output was a very occasional vertical skip in the image, both when in motion, and when viewing still menus, and the very occasional dropped frame.

    Subtitles had a habit of frequently defaulting inappropriately to ON when the player commenced playback of a DVD. This was partially correctable within the setup menu by changing the default Subtitle language to AUTO.

    The review player was marked as a Zone 4 player, but a hidden setup menu (turn player on with no disc in tray, press 9-8-Select, then set region code to 1-8 for manual zone mode or 14 for auto zone mode) allowed the player to be set to either a specific zone or to automatic multizone mode. In auto mode, the Start SD-2010VNK v2 happily played both Region 4 and Region 1 DVDs, including The Patriot R1, which is protected with RCE code. This setup menu also allows Macrovision to be disabled if your display device is incompatible with Macrovision.

    The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this player are of average smoothness, and are available at x2 speed and x8 speed.

    RSDL layer changes resulted in a short pause of between 1/4 and 1/2 a second.

On Screen Display

    The on-screen display consists of a yellow icon-labelled bar across the top of the screen. It provides editable information on current Title, Chapter and Time Elapsed as well as allowing adjustment of subtitle and audio options on a second screen.

    The DVD player knows a fair number of language names, displayed as three character abbreviations. Unknown languages are displayed as DEF.

    Functional key-presses on the remote are accompanied by various on-screen icons. The Menu and Play icons appeared all too frequently and generally inappropriately when navigating through on-disc menu structures, which became mildly annoying after a while.

Standards Conversions

    The Start SD-2010VNK v2 is capable of converting NTSC to PAL-50, and it does an excellent job of doing so, with minimal conversion artefacts. There is some very minor jerkiness apparent with this conversion, but it is more than adequate for those of you who require such conversion in a DVD player.

CDR (Mitsui Gold) & Video CD

    The Start SD-2010VNK v2  can play back CD-R media and Video CDs.

Audio Playback

    I only used this DVD player with its coaxial digital output and had no specific problems.

   Subjectively, there were very occasional and extremely subtle hints at audio sync problems, but nothing that I could definitely call out of sync. Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay in this player was -10 milliseconds, consistent with the subjective observations. I don't believe anyone will ever have an audio sync problem with this DVD player.

    DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player. MPEG audio bitstreams are output digitally as quite distorted Linear PCM audio.

MP3 Discs

    The Start SD-2010VNK v2 can play CD-Rs with MP3 files stored on them. It plays them with essentially no flaws. The only minor glitch that it exhibited was when playing a 320Kb/s MP3 immediately after playing a 256Kb/s MP3, when the first 10 seconds of the 320Kb/s MP3 is garbled. Directly selecting and playing a 320Kb/s MP3 resulted in flawless playback.

    The on-screen display for MP3 playback is arranged into Albums and Tracks, with each subdirectory on the CD-R being considered an Album. Actual track names are not displayed, so specific tracks on the CD need to be referred to by the Album and Track number.

    A nifty feature of MP3 playback on this DVD player is the Intro function, which plays back the first 5 seconds of each MP3 and then skips to the next.

    There appeared to be no shuffle function for MP3 playback, so playback will only occur sequentially.
Test Disc Format (all Princo CDRs) Results
108 MP3s in 7 subdirectories Found all files.
108 MP3s in root directory Found all files.
128Kb/s, 256Kb/s, 320Kb/s and Variable Bit Rate Had some difficulty when playing the 320Kb/s MP3 immediately after the 256Kb/s MP3 but correctly played this back after 10 seconds of distorted output. Direct selection of the 320Kb/s MP3 resulted in normal playback
Multisession CDR Only found the first session.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    No DVDs that I tried on the Start SD-2010VNK v2  had any specific playback problems.

User Convenience Features

Screen Saver


The Good Points
    Good looking image.

    Plays CD-Rs

    Plays MP3s

    Region and Macrovision free

The Bad Points
    The fluorescent display cannot be dimmed.

    Poorly laid-out remote control.

    On-Screen Display icons crop up excessively.

    Subtitles default to ON frequently.

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Conversion PAL-50
Inbuilt Decoder Dolby Digital

In Closing

    The Start SD-2010VNK v2 is a DVD player that I can comfortably recommend to those of you who are looking for an all-in-one DVD player. It may not be the cheapest on the market, but it is certainly the only one I have tested to date that has no flaws of any real significance. It is not perfect, with a few minor operational irritations, but it is the first player I have tested in this category which actually performs all of its claimed functions to a satisfactory standard.

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: Zone 4 (Australia/New Zealand & South America), but the test unit played back discs from all regions including R1 RCE discs
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Serial Number Of Unit Tested: 122000157
MPEG Decoder: C-Cube ZiVA-3
Audio Frequency Response: 4Hz - 22kHz (48kHz sampling)
4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
Signal to Noise Ratio: 98dB
Dynamic Range: 90dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.003%
Dimensions: 430 (w) x 340 (d) x 85 (h)
Weight: 4.5kg
Price: $999
Distributor: Start Digital Co
151-153 Clarendon Street
South Melbourne  VIC  3205
Telephone: (03) 9696-9299
Facsimile: (03) 9686-3733

© Michael Demtschyna
27th January 2001