First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Teac PL-D1400 DVD Home Theatre System
- Very cheap, easy to use, decent performance.
- Volume for DVD playback a little low, lack of sound processing.
An incredibly cheap home theatre system that’s ideal for beginners or those on a budget.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Home theatre systems are a great lounge room addition, and TEAC has come up with a cut priced effort that will enable anyone to jump on the home theatre bandwagon.
The PL-D1400 is the cheapest fully-featured home theatre system we've seen to date. At this price the system really is a bargain, but as usual you get what you pay for. The most notable limitation of the system is its limited range of sound processing modes. Only Dolby Digital 5.1 is offered, meaning that those seeking Dolby Pro Logic, DTS and more will be disappointed. We feel that this is a minor fault however, given the price of the unit.
Setup and Design
Setting up the PL-D1400 is fairly simple, with each of the five speakers and the subwoofer connections being colour coded. The bundled subwoofer is also a passive type, meaning that there's no need to worry about connecting up a second power cable. TEAC has included all the standard connection options with component, S-Video and composite for video, and digital optical, digital coaxial and analog for audio. HDMI is the only notable omission, but the unit this isn't exactly aimed at that range in the market.
Aesthetically, the unit reflects its budget price. Simple looks combined with a plain colour scheme converge to make a system that isn't going to win any design awards, but looks attractive enough. Each of the five speakers is identical, with a small frame and silver finish. The subwoofer is also on the small side, and should be easy to hide away.
Once everything is connected the speakers can be individually adjusted to balance the surround effect. In a slightly unhelpful move from TEAC, configuration must be done using a numerical scale rather than the speaker's distance from the listening position. After a bit of trial and error everything sounded fine. We also found we had to adjust the brightness and contrast settings for image output, as with the defaults everything looked blindingly bright.
The PL-D1400's playback performance is mixed. For a budget system, the quality of both images and sound is more than good enough. Once the settings are adjusted colours are vivid and well balanced. Using progressive scan the picture quality is smooth, though edges look a little jarred. Similarly, audio quality is good, but not perfect. There is a nice balance between the subwoofer and the surround speakers, but we thought the bass levels were a little low for some films. Adjusting the 'bass' setting appeared to have no effect whatsoever but we expected some shortcomings with low frequency sound as the subwoofer is not actively powered. Volume levels overall are a little low for DVD playback but sound fine when listening to music. The second shortcoming with the audio is the lack of supported audio formats as mentioned earlier. However given the budgetary constraints of the system, this isn't a huge problem.
TEAC has also included a few extra features with the PL-D1400 - a built in radio is a standard feature but welcome nonetheless. MP3 and JPG playback are also included, and unlike many systems, are intuitive to use and work well. The file system of any data CD is displayed on-screen in a manner similar to Windows Explorer, making browsing for music or images easy. The final extra is a Karaoke feature: while only DVD karaoke discs are supported, the inclusion of two microphone inputs and an echo control is handy.
Overall, TEAC has done an excellent job with the PL-D1400. Though the system has a few shortcomings with the quality of its audio and visuals, this is made up for by a decent range of features, simple setup and configuration, and most importantly an incredibly low cost.
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