17 1/4 inches wide, 2 3/4 inches high, 10 1/2 inches deep
WEIGHT 5 3/4 pounds
JVC of America, Dept. S&V, 1700 Valley Rd., Wayne, NJ 07470;
I'd heard a great deal of buzz about JVC's new XV-S60BK DVD player - much of it revolving around the low $349 list price and the anticipation that it would deliver artifact-free progressive-scan images. Buzz aside, the player looked unassuming enough when I removed it from its box. The sleek front panel has only the most essential control buttons, plus an indicator that lights when the player is set to its progressive-scan mode.
The back panel is equally streamlined but has all the usual outputs. The component-video jack is switched to progressive mode by pressing the Progressive Scan button on the remote and holding it for a few seconds. In a new and very welcome trend that saves you quite a few bucks, JVC packages a set of component-video cables with the player.
The JVC's remote control felt substantial, with large buttons I could easily locate by touch in the dark. The controls you'll use most often are on the lower half. Directly above them are buttons for less used functions like picture zoom and shrink, Digest (displays a grid of images from each chapter on a DVD), and picture-quality presets. The remote can also be configured to control your TV.
Pressing the On Screen button near the bottom of the remote during playback shrinks the movie to a quarter-screen window and fills the rest of the screen with a control panel. Several functions can be accessed from this panel, including repeat modes, time and chapter search, and selection of soundtrack and subtitle language or camera angle. It also includes bar graphs indicating elapsed time and the disc's data-transfer rate. When you're playing a CD, a similar onscreen control window is available to set up repeat modes or program track order - if you don't mind turning on the TV.
The JVC's 2x fast-scan mode delivered smooth, fluid playback. Another neat feature is aspect ratio control, activated by selecting the 16:9 Normal setting in the setup menu. This will prove useful if you have a widescreen HDTV that locks into a 16:9 or "full" display mode when it receives a progressive-scan signal (a number of them do). Set to its 16:9 Normal mode, the JVC player formats standard 4:3 images so they'll appear on widescreen displays with correct geometry instead of being stretched out to fill the screen.
Like the Marantz changer, the JVC effortlessly sailed through my progressive-scan torture tests. Scenes with fine horizontal lines combined with moving cam erawork all came through without any artifacts. Colors, too, looked solid, with no combing visible in either the bright reds of Yellow Submarine or the catcher's orange chest protector in For the Love of the Game.
When I switched to another reference DVD, the Hitchcock classic North by Northwest, I thought at first that the JVC came up somewhat shy on picture detail. Checking the sharpness control in the player's Normal preset, however, I noted that it was a notch below maximum. Bumping it back up let me clearly see both the texture in Cary Grant's impeccably cut gray suit and the details in the intricate furnishings of James Mason's library. Setting sharpness to maximum added slight ringing artifacts to the lines in the resolution pattern of Ovation Software's Avia test DVD, but I didn't notice any with movies.
The JVC XV-S60BK is an all-around excellent progressive-scan player that's also very reasonably priced. Having finally gotten my hands on it, I can attest that it more than justifies the buzz.
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