MSI looks to add executive chic to a winning laptop formula
- Lots of video and audio output options, very easy to use
- No DivX support, weak picture and MP3 support
A decent convergence device. Not too flashy, but with plenty of display options. It's not really the choice for the hard-core videophile, but for the rest of us the V5500 covers most of the right bases.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
The Samsung DVD-V5500 comes across at first as an entry-level product, designed for those who find tuning and programming a VCR a task of Herculean proportions. It's not flashy or particularly stylish. It has a simple setup, a solid remote with large and well-spaced buttons, as if made for beginners, and comes with a well-detailed manual.
It does have some features that will suit the more hard-core AV enthusiast, however. It has digital audio output (Dolby or DTS), through either coax or optical connections. It also supports component output and S-Video output, or you can use the regular RCA output or RF antenna loop-through to your TV. It also has progressive scan support for DVD playback (if your TV supports it). For an entry-level device, the DVD-V5500 is certainly not lacking in output options. It also has two sets of RCA inputs--one at the front and one at the rear--for connecting devices like game consoles and camcorders.
It begins life with a relatively quick and utterly painless automatic setup process. It captured the Australian channels perfectly and on first try, and even initiates automatic picture tuning when you start playback of a VHS tape. Managing the settings through the setup interface is also dead easy, with very straightforward control mechanisms. Scheduling a program time is as simple as it gets.
When watching a VHS tape, it supports automatic index marks set at the beginning of recording sessions, as well as a skip-to button. Tape fast forward is quite quick, though it often takes a few seconds to start if the heads have been parked.
It's not all great, however. The quick find and chapter skip buttons are one and the same (hold for quick find, press quickly for chapter skip), and as a result you'll often find yourself skipping to the next chapter on a DVD when all you really wanted to do was fast-forward through a boring bit.
You cannot record from DVD to VCR with the Samsung and, unlike the more expensive Samsung DVD-V6500, the DVD-V5500 does not support DivX or XviD playback. It does, however, support MP3 playback and JPEG picture viewing. We tested it with a Princo DVD-R burnt at 2X in ISO format. It read the disc itself with no problem, but the MP3 menu and playback was quite pedestrian. It can only display the first 11 characters of a filename (which means you often don't know what song is showing), doesn't support random play, prevents you from navigating through the songs while one is playing, and produces audio that is rather flat. It's not exactly digital jukebox material.
Its picture-viewing capabilities were marginally better, with support for a thumbnail gallery view, timed slide show and simple zooming. It displayed all the JPGs we threw at it without issue, although there was a slight eye-straining flicker on the image display.
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