My Zenith DVB318 Extensive Review

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by JasonLC, Jul 10, 2004.

  1. JasonLC

    JasonLC Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 21, 2002
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    Well like many others I decided to try the Zenith DVB318 out even though I own the Panasonic RP82 which is a reference 480P DVD player. I have been extremely happy with the RP82 with all types of DVDs and transfers, but I wanted to try a good upconverting player with the Faroudja deinterlacer in it. I remember being the first person on the forum to open up and verify that the Panasonic CP72 had the same chipset as the RP82/XP30/XP50. I also found that the XP50 had a noticably softer PQ then the RP82/XP30 and the only explanation for it was probably a firmware change. That is why I decided to stay with the RP82 the whole time. I will give you my opinion on all the features of the Zenith's features as they looked played back on my good old Toshiba 57H81 RP HDTV.

    1080i Picture Quality
    Once I got the Zenith hooked up I definitely needed to calibrate my HDTV with AVIA. I had to lower the contrast 10% or so and that was about all I remember changing. I found the Zenith DVD logo to have razor sharp edges and it had a big 3D look to it. The colors also jumped out of the screen in 1080i on the DVD logo. I tried LOTR:FOTR dvd first and it was so clear that you could see film grain specs. The colors looked very natural and objects and people looked more 3D then my RP82. The PQ is definitely sharper then my RP82 and at this point I am starting to be impressed. I have noticed no over saturation of green in the darker areas either. I don't think LOTR dvds are the sharpest PQ DVDs but they are definitely very smooth and film like. Next dvd I tried was Finding Nemo. I did notice some slight pixelation in darker areas that the RP82 never displayed. I would call it neck and neck on most scenes with the RP82. There might have been some scenes that were slightly sharper on the Zenith, but they were nothing to write home about. Next I tried Ice Age dvd and I was blown away by the PQ on it. The Zenith had much shaprer edges then the RP82, and it was much more 3D looking then the RP82 on this dvd. I then tried Super Troops which I have found to be one of the sharpest PQ film dvds, and the Zenith had a much sharper and life-like PQ compared to the RP82 at 480P. I could see every pore in the guy's faces when they were first getting busted by the cops for weed on the side of the highway. Then I tried The Fifth Element Superbit dvd out and once again the Zenith had a sharper and more 3D PQ then the RP82. Finally I tried my home videos that I made with my Sony TRV22 MiniDv camcorder and encoded at a constant 8Mbs bitrate with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. I found the PQ to be much more desirable at 480P obviously because the player locks you in at widescreen aspect only at 1080i thus stretching the 4:3 native video and causing artifacts etc. At 480P my home videos looked just as good as they did on the RP82 and I am very happy for that. Overall I feel the Zenith has about a 30% sharper and more HD like PQ then the RP82 on most high quality transfer dvd material. I wouldn't dare say it is HBO-HD quality but it is within 10% of the PQ on better dvd transfers such as Ice Age, Super Troopers, and The Fifth Element that I tried.

    480P Picture Quality
    The Zenith DVD logo screen had slight ghosting around the edges of objects, but nothing to frown about. I tried LOTR:FOTR dvd it looked slightly softer then the RP82 in 480P, but the colors looked good and the detail was still there. The difference was similar to what I found between the XP50 and being slightly softer then the RP82. I noticed no artifacts or color smearing in the picture at 480P like some users report on their displays. I also tried The Fifth Element Superbit, Ice Age, and Super Troopers(One of the sharpest PQ movies I have seen) and I found them all to display a slightly softer PQ compared to the RP82, but still above par 480P PQ.

    Audio Quality
    Just like everyone else I found the 5.1DD and DTS, 6.1 DTS sound to be very spacious and accurate through the optical and coaxial connection. The dvd sound is definitely richer and more spacious then my RP82 and the difference was very noticable on all content including my home videos. Even the sound from my MP3's encoded with LAME at 192kbps Stereo were even closer to CD sound then my RP82 played them.

    Menu Navigation And Auto Play
    I found the menu navigation to be adequate and fairly well laid out. Not too many options to burden the user with and a nice looking UI. I did find the remote to be a little less repsonsive then others, but if you press the buttons harder it seemed to respond better. I absolutely love the Auto play feature that skips all the BS messages at the beginning of dvds and goes straight to the movie feature. It has worked fine for me on all dvds and I highly recommend using it unless you are loading diagnostic dvds such as AVIA and then it will lock up.

    MP3, JPG, And DVD-R Playback
    The Zenith has an awesome MP3 and JPG playback user interface. It is very windows like and you can setup playlists with MP3 and shuffle them etc. It also displays the full MP3 file name at the bottom of the screen which is awesome. As far as JPG playback it is also A+. Has the the same great user interface and it allows you to do a playlist of JPGs and run a slideshow with different speeds of playback. Ihis player loads raw JPGS or Kodak Photo CD and when it does it displays PIC on the display which is cool. It loaded my 160KB JPGs in 1 second, 600KB JPGs in 2-3 seconds, and my 2MB JPGS in around 7-10 seconds which is outstanding loading times compared to other players I have auditioned such as the JVCs that took up to 1 minute to load the bigger JPGs. This player loves all brands of DVD-R media types that are burnt at any speed between 1X-8X.

    I would like to mention that my Panasonic RP82 has been retired to the bedroom, because the Zenith matches or trumps it in every area, and also adds cool bonus features when it comes to MP3 and JPG playback. I found the looks of the player to be decent and not too cheap looking. The LCD display is very easy to read from 10 feet away and the icons on screen are decent also. I also noticed no types of ghosting on on my Toshiba 57H81 in 1080i mode from this player as I did in 480P mode on both this player and the Panasonic RP82. The reason for that is these Toshibas were known to ghost with 480i/480P content because of the upscaling the TV does to all 480 content to bring it up to 540P. That would be another reason to buy this player if you owned a RP HDTv that has that flaw like the Toshibas. The Zenith at 1080i will bypass the upscaling that your TV does and it will therefore get rid of your ghosting on dvds! I would highly recommend the Zenith DVB318 if you have a RP HDTV and want to see an awesome upconverted DVD picture!
  2. ross ish

    ross ish Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 18, 2002
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    Good review, should help out with the fence sitters out there. I just received the Zenith myself and will start of testing its upcoversion compatibility with the Hitachi's RPTV CRT virtual HD circuitry at both component and dvi. Since the Hitachi automatically upconverts, I do not expect much difference here. Next, check out the Zenith upconversion to the native resolution of the Memorex HDTV LCD panel. I expect a large improvement here as the Memorex does not have any HD upconversion, does not have a great deinterlacer.
  3. Steven.W.T

    Steven.W.T Stunt Coordinator

    May 20, 2004
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    Thanks! I'm actually thinking about buying this player. I just got a new Hitachi RPTV and my cheap Sony dvd/vhs player sucks.

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