SMC DVD 330S (Mania.com)
Date: Thursday, April 04, 2002
What They Say
SMC DVD 330S
By Jamie Patchin
It is important to note that there are at least 2 visibly different versions of this player floating about, plus a couple of different software versions. The player used in this review is the October 1999 model.
Call it a region-free player for the lower end DVD market.
Price Range: Usually around 200 USD, but has been found for less.
Outputs to PAL/NTSC TVs
Composite Video Out
PCM Audio Out
Analogue Audio Out
How it looks:
This is quite obviously a cheap, foreign DVD player. The front is a jumble of logo stickers and buttons. From the front you can turn the player on or off, open or close the tray, play/rewind/fast-forward/pause/stop the DVD, or change angles/subtitles/audio tracks. Older versions had some kareoke controls on the front, as well.
The remote has nice big buttons for the actual video navigation (Play, Fast Forward, Slow, Chapter Skip, Etc), but the rest of it is pretty awful. The menu navigation buttons are tiny, and the button names don't always give a clear indication of what they do (IE, "Subpicture" controls which sub track displays). There is no power button on the remote, and it is, all in all, a pretty awkward setup. However, once you get used to it, it's pretty tolerable.
This is also a bizarre area. All the standard outputs are available, BUT (and this is a big "but") you have to turn the S-video Output on from the remote every time you turn the player on. I cannot think of a single logical reason for this, so I chalk it up to things beyond my understanding.
It appears to play VCDs and audio CDs without a hitch, and most DVDs play fine, as well. In fact, the only real compatibility issue I've had thusfar is with Castle of Cagliostro, and it may extend to all Manga DVDs: It will not play the main menu. At all. So, to watch the movie, you have to skip to the title it is saved on. It is pretty annoying, but isn't the end of the world. Of course, the big draw is the multi-region capability. While the player comes pre-set to region 1, there are ways to change it. Follow the simple step plan:
1.) Turn on the player, and open the disc tray.
Step 2 depends on the make of your player
2a.) For karaoke-compatible players, press 7, then 7 again, then select.
2b.) For non-karaoke players press 2, 0, 0, 1, then select.
3.) Select Country Code, and change it to desired region, or input region 13 to play all, then hit enter. (Very old players may have the ability to disable Macrovision, as well.)
4.) Press setup.
You should then be able to play any region DVDs (I have heard there is a way to play PAL DVDs on an NTSC TV, but, lacking any PAL DVDs, have not been able to try it myself).
Piped through a Toshiba VCR into a GE 19" TV, everything looks and sounds fine. I do notice a little line noise where there probably isn't really any, but for the I-just-wanna-upgrade-from-VHS individual, it's not a bad deal.
A good player for the someone who wants a DVD player, doesn't want to spend a lot of money, and dreams of slowly building up a region 2 collection. The remote kind of stinks, and it's not a DVD player that'll impress the friends and neighbors, but it's served me well, so far.
Places to buy:
DVD City carries this player, for about 250 (The October '99 model is pictured), and you can usually find one or two for auction on e-bay (usually around 200) and yahoo (Currently a batch up for 150). I've also heard of people getting them from B&M stores for as low as 150. All things considered, not a bad deal.
Age Rating: All
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Other
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hardware Reviews