MALATA N996 review - The word, is GOOD!!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Matt_Stevens, Aug 2, 2001.

  1. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    My MALATA N996 finally arrived via UPS tonight and I have had about an hour and fifteen minutes with it. I used the following DVDs to test it out:
    Region 2 PAL: EASTERN CONDORS, DRIVE.
    Region 3 Japan: WHO AM I?
    Region 0: SHIRI
    Region 2: SHIRI (4x3 1.66:1 DTS)
    I have my player in 16x9 mode. I only tried the down-conversion with WHO AM I for 3 minutes and it was better on this player than any I have ever seen.
    Back to the review… The player is set default to NTSC, so PAL DVDs are automatically converted into NTSC, 95% perfectly. At first I thought they were 100% perfect, but after measuring a circle in Eastern Condors and then again in Drive, I found that the aspect ratio is squeezed just a tiny bit (the Apex/Sampo lines would shrink them down a lot, making everybody short and fat).
    Here is where the X-Y SCALING comes in! Press the “Function” key a few times and you get the XY menu. Simply press the arrows button UP just once, and the geometry is near perfect. One more time and I think it is spot on 100% correct. This takes all of five seconds people! Every PAL DVD I tried is like this. They are just about perfect and you would not notice unless you got very anal, but just a few remote clicks and you have incredible PAL playback on your TV. The Hong Kong Legends DVDs look so good, I am in shock. I knew they were good, but not this good! DRIVE, which showed bad artifacting on my APEX and annoying artifacting on my HTPC showed almost none with the MALATA. A job well done.
    Each time you go back to the menu or hit stop, the XY goes back to default.
    SOUND: I could not get DTS unless I set the player to DTS in the menu instead of Dolby. Now I get DD5.1 or 2.0 or DTS. Whatever I select I get.
    The menu is not all that clear. It’s not set up by Americans, so things are a little confusing, but not enough to cause problems. I am already used to it.
    When you pick Component Output, S-Video output is in B&W. If you pick S-Video, Component is all red in color. I have not delved too much into this part, so I’ll post more later.
    4:3 DVDs like SHIRI Region 2 DTS, which is 1.66:1, can be played on a 16x9 set by using the XY scale & zoom functions. You won’t have to crop the top when zooming with the TV or watch it in a 4:3 window with bars on all sides. This feature is incredible and I will post more on it when I have the time to get more familiar with it.
    Build quality is much better than the Apex type layers and on a par with the Toshiba 5109 I used to own. It ain’t built to be dropped of a building, but it ain’t cheap either.
    The remote sucks. I’ll have to figure out how to program my Radio Shack lighted Universal to take over those duties.
    Picture Qaulity is outstanding. It is better than my current code free TOSHIBA SD1600 via S-Video or Component out on my Sony Wega in 16x9 mode. The region 0 SHIRI (16x9 SE) looked like it came from Sony High-Def. Simply outstanding. There are all sorts of picture features with this player (brightness, color, etc) that I have yet to look into. More later.
    That is the quick review. I am not disappointed. In fact, I an relieved and happy as can be. [​IMG]
    ------------------
    www.deceptions.net/superman
    [Edited last by Matt_Stevens on August 02, 2001 at 08:03 PM]
     
  2. Scott Barnhart

    Scott Barnhart Stunt Coordinator

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    Matt,
    Thanks for the review. Mine came today also, and I am headed home to play with it now. It sounds as if I might have to make this my primary DVD player even for Region 1, if it is that good. My current primary player is the venerable Sony 3000. I will be interested to how they compare.
    Scott
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    Scott Barnhart
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  3. Jake T

    Jake T Stunt Coordinator

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    Matt,
    Where can you buy these units?
    Jake T
     
  4. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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  5. Paul E. Fox II

    Paul E. Fox II Second Unit

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    Ok...I must say I'm interested, but I want to hear more after you fiddle with it for a few days. Also, if you don't mind (and I apologize if this was covered elsewhere in another post...I'm late to the party once again!), which unit did you order...the Region 0 Default or the Region 1 Default? Have you tried to play (or do you own) any of the problem discs around like Dinosaur (which won't even load on my SD3109, Dogma (locks up if you hit display) or The Matrix (which has very SLOW menu access on my 3109..)?
    Again, if you don't mind...I'll have LOTS of questions over the next few days.
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    Regards,
    Paul
    _____________
    Pap's DVD Collection
    _____________
     
  6. Scott Barnhart

    Scott Barnhart Stunt Coordinator

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    Matt,
    Do you know anyway to tell if you (or I) got the firmware-upgradeable version? When I ordered, it clearly said the more expensive one (default code 0) was flashable on the avdeals.com website, but now I don't see any verbage to that effect.
    Also, although the price was $339, I notice they charged me $299. However, in the box, I did get the avdeals insert saying this was code 0 by default, and how to change the code.
    How much did they charge you? Do you know any way to differentiate the upgradeable one from the other?
    Thanks,
    Scott
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    Scott Barnhart
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  7. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    Paul. I bought the region 0 version and will have more to say tomorrow if I can get off this damn computer. [​IMG] I don't have Dino or Dogma, but I put in Matrix for ya and low and behold, I can acccess the menu and move around much faster than on my Toshiba SD1600. [​IMG]
    Scott, the Region 1 model cannot play anything other than Region 1 without doing the remote trick. Region 0, pop anything in and it plays, except for RCE, which requires the remote trick.
    I was charged $299, but that is probably Canadian. When I called the 1-800# for my CC, the charge was correct.
    I'll e-mail them about the firmware upgradeability. That was listed before.
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    www.deceptions.net/superman
     
  8. Michael St. Clair

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    Special cabling not withstanding, can this thing generate a 480p progessive 'VGA' output?
     
  9. Scott Barnhart

    Scott Barnhart Stunt Coordinator

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    Unfortunately (for me), my word on this player is not so "good". I just posted my observations on AVS Forum here.
    Scott
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    Scott Barnhart
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  10. Alan Wild

    Alan Wild Stunt Coordinator

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    Are you guys getting the gold or the black? My current "backup" player is a Raite AVPhile 715 which can also do PAL conversation hoever I find the overall quality to be lacking. I've been looking for a good replacement and this may very well be it.
    However, I already have an RP91N. I'm curious about how gold the really gold is.
    -Alan
     
  11. Scott Barnhart

    Scott Barnhart Stunt Coordinator

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    Michael,
    If I read the (somewhat confusing) manual correctly, and if RGB is equivalent to VGA, then yes, you can. You can set up either interlaced or progressive to do either RGB or RGB sync on Green (in addition to YPbPr of course).
    Alan,
    I got the black, so I can't help you there.
    Scott
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    Scott Barnhart
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  12. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Is anyone using the onboard DD/DTS decoding (6 channel outs to receiver) on the Malata? How is the sound quality? Are there audio dropouts when doing FF/Skipping/Frame Stepping while using the onboard DACs?
    ------------------
    My dealer of choice (especially if you live in So-Cal, I highly recommend them): www.yawaonline.com

    Click here for their www.audiosurvey.com reviews
     
  13. Joseph Goodman

    Joseph Goodman Stunt Coordinator

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    Can this player do enhanced black level output (0 IRE)?
     
  14. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    Jo, it has the ability to alters blacks, but I have not tried that feature yet. There are so many features on this thing, I don't know where to begin! [​IMG]
    SCOTT!I responded to your AVS forum post. Check it out.
    ------------------
    www.deceptions.net/superman
    [Edited last by Matt_Stevens on August 03, 2001 at 07:29 AM]
     
  15. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

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    How well does it handle MP3? One of the reasons I got the Apex AD600A is because of the MP3 support.
    My Panasonic also supports MP3, but the support is very rudimentary. The Apex at least allows you to navigate the disc, while the Panasonic does not. The Apex does VBR and high bit rate MP3 well also, but does not handle well bit rates that go BELOW 64 though.
    The Apex has a seamless layer change. Very nice, especially with my old DD Kenwood receiver (like Scott's) which clicks in and out of DD whenever the DD data stream is lost. This can be overridden by manually setting my receiver to DD mode, but it's a hassle.
    The Apex has mediocre video quality, and at least mine has wonky colour balance with the component out. The Apex can defeat Macrovision, but that's superfluous to me as I don't have a projector that would need it, and I don't record DVD to VHS. The Apex is glitchy with certain discs (eg. Star Gate SE).
    If I were to replace the Apex, my main concern is the MP3 support. Any comments? Would it make more sense to get the region 0 or the region 1 player? The region 0 one has the upgradable firmware according to the http://www.avdeals.ca website. I already have a Region 1 Panasonic RP91. The Malata would set me back CAD$500 plus 15%.
    Also, what about VCD support?
    By the way, what do you think I could sell these DVD players for?
    1) RCA 5200p. Early 2nd generation. DD, no DTS, with optical out only. A Panasonic A100 in disguise.
    2) Apex AD600A. Has the Macrovision and region defeat modes. Firmware upgradable (although that would not be advised since later firmwares remove these features).
    ------------------
    Eugene Hsieh, VisorCentral FAQ Editor
    1000 km on a tank of gas??? Check out the Prius and drive the future now!
    [Edited last by Eugene Hsieh on August 03, 2001 at 08:31 AM]
     
  16. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    Eugene, I have no MP3 CD's to try the Malata on. I have never gotten into that. But I think I have some MP3's on my PC hard drive. Should I burn them to CDR then pop them in? If that is what you need, I can easily do that.
    Layer change is not as fast as the Apex, but faster than my Toshiba 1600 and 3107. DD or DTS are not lost when this happens. Video quality makes the Apex look like a VHS player.
    The Apex AD600A normally goes for $150 to $200 with the loophole menu. I sold mine for $200 last week, but it was firmware upgraded and duel bootable, one for region 1 and the other for region 0. Macrovision off for both. It had all the fixes with sound and branching.
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    www.deceptions.net/superman
     
  17. Bleddyn Williams

    Bleddyn Williams Supporting Actor

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    Bleddyn Williams
    Thanks for this review, Matt - this all sounds almost too good to be true!
    A couple of quick questions, if you would be so kind...
    1 - What's your impression of NTSC playback - would you still use your other player for them, or are you going to make this your main player?
    2- I have a 4:3 set - given your focus on 16:9, are there any drawbacks for 4:3 users with this player?
    3- I have good DD/DTS decoders, and would want to use them instead of the onboard decoder. Can I assume its no problem to bypass the Malata's decoder?
    Thanks for any help you can provide...
    Bleddyn
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  18. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    Hi Bleddyn, I'll gladly answer your questions. [​IMG]
    1. NTSC playback is good enough for me to make this my main player. "Good enough" is actually an insult. The only players I have seen that can match this are the Panny RP91 and that recent Sony, the one that costs way too much money.
    2. No drawback at all for 4:3 use The downconversion is better than the Toshibas (no stair-stepping) and Sony's (not as soft looking). The PAL toNTSC conversion in 4:3 is also so perfect, you do not need to readjust at all with the XY scaling. in 16x9, you need to sretchthe height with 2 clicks (takes 5 seconds to do).
    3. It defaults to bypass. DTS and DD both sound every bit as good as they should. It's awesome. [​IMG]
    ------------------
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  19. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

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    So yours defaults to Region 0? So what does that mean for your North American Region 1 discs? Do you have to set the region every time?
    I would consider getting the Region 0 one as a backup (especially since I just got the Panny and I can't return it).
    As for the MP3, I don't want you to go to much trouble, but the way my discs are set up is:
    Artist directory --> album directory --> song.mp3
    The Panny reads everything and just gives me a numbered list of absolutely every mp3 file on disk. So it reads my discs fine, but it's impossible to navigate. I dunno if I've set it up correctly though. I will test again this w/e.
    The Apex will display the directory name on screen, as well as all the names of all subdirectories once you enter the proper directory. So, like on a PC, you can scroll through the directories and know where you're going. The naming scheme is wonky (since the Apex only an 8 character file name length) but at least it's decipherable.
    Ie. On the Apex if I want to listen to Sarah Mclachlan's Vox, I will go to McLachN --> Touch --> Vox.mp3. On the Panny I just have to search through all 125 songs on the disc until I find it.
    The other question I have is something you probably won't be able to help me with. The Apex handles high bit-rate files, including 320. The Apex handles also variable bit-rate files (which most of mine are). Both of these features have been lacking on older portable players, but it seems most recent DVD-oriented stuff can handle it. I would expect the Malata to be fine with it.
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    Eugene Hsieh, VisorCentral FAQ Editor
    1000 km on a tank of gas??? Check out the Prius and drive the future now!
     
  20. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

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    quote: Picture Qaulity is outstanding. It is better than my current code free TOSHIBA SD1600 via S-Video or Component out on my Sony Wega in 16x9 mode.[/quote]Hmmm... Can you say that for sure? I thought your setup is not progressive scan. The Malata is being marketed as a progressive scan solution. Being better than a Toshiba SD1600 is fine, but that's not really a big deal since the Toshiba is interlaced, and my very old interlaced RCA has a picture which I think is as good than that player. (Not criticizing, just asking a question.)
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    Eugene Hsieh, VisorCentral FAQ Editor
    1000 km on a tank of gas??? Check out the Prius and drive the future now!
    [Edited last by Eugene Hsieh on August 03, 2001 at 01:50 PM]
     

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