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DVD-A/V, Universal Players Get Digital Outs

9/01/2003 02:00:00 AM Eastern

A/V suppliers will show new universal DVD players that play SACD and DVD-Audio discs, but they're not abandoning DVD-Audio/Video players.

Some of the products will be among the industry's first to sport approved IEEE 1394 outputs or proprietary outputs that transport DVD-Audio and SACD content in the digital domain to receivers or preamp processors. DVI and HDMI outputs for transporting digital video to digital displays will also turn up.

Both Denon and Marantz will expand their selection of universal players while continuing to offer DVD-A/V players, while Harman Kardon plans to introduce its first DVD-A/V player.

At least one of the universal models, due from Denon, will be among the first DVD players to incorporate DVI output, which will upconvert DVD video into the 480p, 720p or 1,080i formats. And at least one more company, Denon, will launch its first universal player with 1394 output for transporting SACD and DVD-Audio content in the digital domain. Pioneer already offers one such universal player, and Sony offers SACD players with the output.

For its part, Meridian plans a DVD-A/V player with HDMI output.

Here's a sample of what installers will find:

Denon: The company is expanding its selection of universal players to three from one and is reducing its DVD-A/V selection to three from four.

The two new universal players, the DVD-5900 and DVD-2200, will be priced at a suggested $2,000 and $629, respectively, joining the company's first universal model, launched at CES at $999.

All universal models are single-disc players with built-in 5.1-channel DD/DTS decoding.

The $2,000-suggested DVD-5900 will be Denon's first DVD player with a 1394 output approved by the DVD Forum and Sony/Philips for transporting DVD-Audio and SACD content in the digital domain. Denon hopes to offer its first two receivers with 1394 inputs early next year.

The single-disc 5900 also features Denon's proprietary Digital Link, a Forum-approved digital connection to transport DVD-Audio content. It wasn't certain at press time whether the Link has been approved to transport SACD.

The 5900 could become the company's first DVD with DVI-HDCP output, which will upconvert DVD to 480p, 720p or 1,080i resolution. The DVD Forum has approved DVI with HDCP copy protection but is awaiting content-community approval, Denon said at press time. If the content community doesn't act by the time the product ships in September, the unit will be shipped with the output turned off, and consumers could later be given a CD to open the port.

If the unit's bass management system is used when playing an SACD, the disc's DSD content will be converted to PCM, the company noted. Alternately, consumers can pass through the SACD content without bass management to a receiver with DVD-Audio/SACD bass management.

The player will also be Denon's first to feature compatibility with two recordable DVD formats: DVD+R/RW and -R/RW. It also reads JPEG discs, Kodak and Fujitsu Picture CDs, and MP3- and Windows Media Audio-encoded CDs.

It also upconverts all 5.1 audio channels to 24/192 quality.

The DVD-2200 plays back the full complement of discs that the top-end model does, but lacks 1394 and Denon Link outputs.

The two new DVD-A/V players are a $469-suggested five-disc model and a $429 single-disc model, joining a carryover five-disc model whose price will drop to $799 from $1,200. Current single-disc DVD-A/V players at $499, $1,199 and $3,500 are being dropped.

Harman Kardon: The company's first and long-awaited DVD-A/V player is the DVD 31, which is compatible with DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW discs and discs encoded with MP3, WMA and JPEG files. It features DVD-Audio bass management and a built-in test screen to adjust video parameters. Pricing and ship date were unavailable.

Marantz: The company will expand its universal selection to two models and offer its first five-disc DVD-A/V changer. The company no longer offers SACD/ DVD-Video players but continues to offer SACD-only players.

The company's top-end universal model, the DV8400, was launched at CES as the company's first DVD with DVI-HDCP output, The output, however, won't be active until consumers enter a code that Marantz will provide once DVI-HDCP is approved for use on DVD players.

The 8400 will now be complemented by the $599-suggested DV6400, a single-disc universal player shipping in November. It will lack the top model's DVI-HDCP output and RS-232 port but will play JPEG-, MP3- and WMA-encoded CDs. An audio-only mode bypasses video circuitry to play back music discs, and discrete on/off IR codes are included.

The company's first five-disc DVD-A/V changer, the VC5400, is due in September at a suggested $549. It plays MP3, WMA and JPEG discs and adds HDCD decoding and RS-232C port.

Meridian: The company's new G series will include a DVD-A/V player with HDMI output. It wasn't clear whether the HDMI output would transport DVD-Audio content as well as DVD-Video content. Other details were also unavailable.

Onkyo: The company will expand its universal selection to two SKUs at January's CES but doesn't plan to show them at the Expo, where other new products will be displayed. Details weren't available.

Yamaha: The company has redesigned two previously announced products to add more custom-install features such as RS-232C ports. They are a $499-suggested SACD/DVD-Video player and a $999-suggested universal player (see p. 32).

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