My Panasonic DVD-RA60 has arrived - specs and first impressions (quite long)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Keith Mickunas, Nov 5, 2001.

  1. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Well this afternoon Fed-Ex was kind enough to drop off my RA60 at the office. I'm pretty happy since it was supposed to have shipped last Friday and I paid very little for shipping. I brought it home and hooked it up, and I'm quite delighted. For just a bit over $200 I've got a pretty decent non-progressive DVD player that handles DVD-Audio to boot. Here's what info I can provide on the player so far. I'll try to be thorough since I have seen little about it on the net so far.
    First the specs:
    Plays the following formats: DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, DVD-R (video only), CD, Video CD, CD-R/CD-RW, MP3.
    Connections: 2 composite, 1 S-video, 1 Component, 5.1 analog connection, 1 stereo connection, 1 optical digital output, 1 head phone jack (with volume control).
    DVD (linear audio) 4Hz - 22kHz (48 kHz sampling)
    4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
    DVD-Audio 4Hz - 88kHz (192kHz sampling) CD Audio 4Hz - 20kHz
    S/N ratio for CD 115dB
    Dynamic range DVD 102dB, CD 98dB
    thd CD audio 0.0025%
    Pickup: Wave length: 658nm/790nm
    Laser power: CLASS IIa/CLASS I(it doesn't specifically say if its dual laser, or some sort of dual focus mechanism, but I'm guessing its dual laser.
    It also inclues an audio-only mode that disables all video output, useful for DVD-Audio and such. To change to the DVD-Video mode on a DVD-Audio disc does require delving deep into the menus, but I'm not sure if there's ever much of a reason to do this.
    It doesn't support DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM, CDV, CD-G, DVD-RW, CVD, VCD, SACD, Divx, and PhotoCd. I've tried one data CD-R with MP3s, and one data CD-RW with MP3s, and neither has worked. The CD-R worked on my Malata, so I'm not sure why the Panasonic doesn't like it.
    The build quality is typical of a player in this price range. The front is a bit cluttered for my tastes, it has a 10 key input in addition to the standard controls and a shuttle control. Its quite polite, the display welcomes you when you turn it on, and says "Bye" when you shut it off, although I think "Good Bye" would be more appropriate, its also quite informative, stating things like "Read" and "Play". I have yet to find a way to dim or shut off the display, and I've been through all the menus (I think), but it doesn't seem to bright. Most items on the display are in blue. There are only three LEDs on the unit, one for each of the two virtual surround sound buttons (Speaker and Headphone) and one for Audio only mode. There isn't even an LED for power.
    The remote is so-so. It has all the necessary functions, and no annoying doors hiding anything. However there's no backlight, and certain important keys, such as play and stop don't really stand out. I don't think there are any controls on the front panel that are not duplicated on the remote. I find it is very sensitive to the angle at which you point it, much moreso then my Marantz RC-20000 Mk. 2 and Yamaha RAV-2000, hopefully programming the Yamaha will alleviate that problem.
    Now for my impressions. My system consists of the following components: Mits. VS-50801 50" standard definition RPTV, Yamaha RX-V1 receiver, Polk Audio speakers all around (RT800, CS350, RT55), Klipsch KSW-200 sub. I haven't done any A/B comparisons yet, but I currently also have a Sony DVP-S3000 and Malata DVD-N996. The Panasonic is connected wtih a Monster S-Video cable, AR Pro Series optical cable, and IXOS 6-channel cable. All my speakers are hooked up with 14gauge Monster speaker cable. Sorry, I can't provide specific info on the Monsters.
    Setup of the player was very straight-forward. They even have test tones for the 6-channel connection with individual volume controls, delay, and size. The manual seems to imply speaker size works for DVD-Audio. I'll check this later if I can figure out a good way.
    The display menu is quite handy, and provides a lot of easy adjustments. You can scroll through chapter, audio and subtitle optiosn with the menu, and its placement is adjustable on the screen. It comes up as a small bar near the top of the screen. It also displays title, chapter and time info, and much more. Unfortunately some of the icons are hard to make out, so you may need the manual to figure out what all is there. I just found in the manual that there is a brightness contol for the display, I don't know if this is the display menu on screen, or the front panel. I'll look into it.
    The manual is ok. It could use an index, and perhaps more details on MP3 and some of the other features. Its way better than the Malata's (but that isn't hard). Oh, and its printed with Soy ink (does anybody really care?).
    As for performance, well I'm quite satisfied. Audio and video are excellent. But I'm not too picky on this, and my experience outside of my equipment is a bit limited. The player seems responsive, and doesn't take an excessive amount of time to do anything. The layer change on Shrek was a bit slower than on the Malata, but its so quick it'd be hard to say. My recevier doesn't have any trouble maintaining the audio mode during the layer change, but it doesn't have a problem with the Sony or Malata. DVD-Audio playback is excellent, but again, my experience is limited. I've tried the Grateful Dead's American Beauty and it sounded wonderful. I've never heard anything like it.
    The video on Shrek was on par with the Malata and a bit better than the Sony. I just noticed the other day that the Sony has some trouble maintaining consistent brightness on Shrek. In some scenes it seemed to vary the brightness by just a hair, it was barely noticeable but neither the Malata or Panasonic showed similar problems. I haven't tried any other discs on it yet, but I'll be sure to throw some troublesome discs like SW:TPM, Matrix, and anything else I can think of at it later this week.
    I also did some brief testing of CD playback with the internal DACs and compared them to the Yamaha's. I can't say that I perceived much difference. Perhaps the Yamaha is just a tiny bit better, but then I wasn't doing a blind test so I can't say for sure. The Yamaha does provide a bypass mode for the audio so it goes straight from the analog inputs to the volume control, and into the amps, so it shouldn't have had much affect on the Panasonic's sound.
    Well that's all I can think of for now. Feel free to ask any questions and to suggest any other test material. All in all I'd have to say this is an excellent player and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a non-progressive player for under $300, and considering it has DVD-Audio makes it a real bargain.
    [Edited last by Keith Mickunas on November 06, 2001 at 09:42 AM]
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the review. A friend of mine is in the market for a budget DVD player, and I mentioned this model to him. He was intrigued by the features available for the price, but I told him to wait for reviews. Your thoughts are a good start. I'll definitely mention this to him. However, you said it doesn't play Divx discs. Definitely throw it out. [​IMG]
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    [Edited last by KeithH on November 06, 2001 at 06:25 AM]
     
  3. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Sorry if I'm just being stupid here, but...
    What's the point of supporting MP3 if you don't support CD-R/W???? Does that make any sense at all whatsoever????
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    Philip Hamm
    AIM: PhilBiker
     
  4. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    It does support CD-R/RW, its just that for whatever reason, it doesn't support the way mine are written. It may be something about how they are finalized, or it could be that there's data on there also. I believe the manual states that it treats the disc as if it only contains whatever the first track is, and my only MP3 disc does have data on it also. So I'll have to burn an MP3 only disc to check it out.
     
  5. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    I have a couple of updates:
    First, it doesn't like multi-session CD-R. I was able to get it to play MP3s off a CD-R as long as it was a single session disc. It will work with folders also. While MP3 playback is good, the interface is horrible. There are no track listings, and directories are only useful for ordering songs. The only controls that work with MP3s are next and previous. There's no way to program specific songs or random play or anything like that.
    Second, the front display can be dimmed. There's Bright, Dim, and Auto, which dims the display during playback and brightens it when you use any of the play controls.
     

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