Sony gets just about everything right with the SLVD985P. It doesn't break new ground, deliver amazing new features or really do anything out of the ordinary, but like the Toshiba SD-34VLSY, it scores points where it really counts--in usability and quality.
- Very usable, nice remote
- Handling of MP3s and JPGs is a little weak
Elegantly simple, the Sony is not a revolutionary device, but it's easy and intuitive to use.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
The SLVD985P has the now usual array of inputs and output: an antenna loop-through, component video out with progressive scan support, composite output through RCA, rear and front RCA inputs, S-Video output, and coaxial and optical digital audio output.
Its remote is well designed, with an intuitive layout that works for both DVD and VCR features, and soft-touch buttons that aren't going to chafe the thumbs after hours of channel surfing.
Right from the get-go, the Sony SLVD985P is easy to use. As soon as you start it up, it performs an automatic channel search and asks for the time. Using the unified control panel to change DVD or VHS settings, and to program the timer, never required consulting the manual (which is itself a fine piece of work, less an engineering textbook than a step-by-step walkthrough).
The quality of the VHS tuning, playback and recording were all top notch, very near the best in its class. A test VHS recording lost very little in the translation from broadcast TV to tape, which is rare. Likewise, the DVD picture was also as good as it gets.
If the Sony has a weakness, it's in its MP3 and JPG support. It read our test DVD just fine, and allowed us to choose music play or JPG viewing. There's also nothing wrong with the interface; it has thumbnail album views and a clear list of MP3 tracks. It was, however, painfully slow to open images and generate thumbnails, and the MP3 player does not support random play.
Those issues aside, the Sony SLVD985P is a very fine combo device, making a virtue of simplicity.
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