Monthly Archives: April 2024

A cheap DVD player

Do people still buy DVD players? Yes, me, last week!

125 years ago being able to choose what you listened to or watched was an idea yet to happen. Now most listening and viewing is facilitated by streaming services. How did we get here?

Mass-market home entertainment began at the end of the nineteenth century with the mass production of phonographic cylinders. Flat 78rpm records followed (1898), then vinyl records (1948), audio cassettes (1963) and CDs (1982). Now, of course, most people get their music from iTunes, Amazon music and other streaming services.

On the video side, as with audio, streaming services like Netflix are now dominant.  Home video recorders, often only used to play pre-recorded tapes, didn’t appear until the 1970s, spawning video rental shops in most shopping centres. From the late 1990s VHS tapes were replaced by DVDs, then from 2006 Blu-ray disks. Blockbuster started in 1985; at its peak in 2004,it operated 9,094 stores employing 84,300 people worldwide. In 2014 the last company-owned store closed.

When I moved from UK to Melbourne in 2008 I didn’t bring much with me, around 500 books (I disposed of as many again before emigrating), my collection of 70+ souvenir coffee mugs from around the world (places I’d visited), my DVD collection (non Blu-ray) and not much else. Otherwise the plan was to buy everything I needed when I got here.

When it came to choosing a DVD player my choice was limited by needing an all-zone model so I could play my UK (zone 2) and any newly-purchased Australian (zone 4) disks. I found a Sony unit (DVP-NS708HB, just A$120) which has served me well for sixteen years but recently started to throw errors. Removing the cover and blowing out any dust didn’t change things so it was time to look for a new player. Of course I might have taken the old one to a repairer first but that could have meant paying a $50 assessment fee only to be told it was not repairable.

So to my new player. I was quite prepared to spend A$250 for a quality unit. I didn’t need Blu-ray but definitely needed a multi-region player. At one time the likes of Good Guys would have had dozens on display to choose from. No more: streaming has taken over and DVD players have all but disappeared from retail shelves. So off to Amazon where I settled on a Shiwakoto multi-region DVD Player for A$54.98 (UK £29) – if it didn’t deliver it was an amount I could afford to lose.

A couple of days later it arrived. Or did it? The box told me that it contained a Maite PDVD-955 MTDVD-10 Pro player, reassuringly made of ‘strong iron’, features including ‘Flexible controls … even play back‘! Fancy that: a DVD player that plays disks! According to their website, Maite produce more than two million DVDs and other audio products per year; their DVD range extends to 212 models!

Inside the box? The player, remote (no batteries), HDMI and RCA cables and an instruction manual for a Shiwakoto SH-DVP23 MAX, the manual cover picture looking nothing like the actual player. Inside it told me that “this product is guaranteed for six months”, “valid in North America only”. The player was, thankfully, fitted with an Australian plug.

Of course, I wasted no time in connecting it up. All good – the disk that my Sony had refused to load burst into life and I was back in business. Picture quality: I don’t know how a professional technician would assess it, but it’s perfectly acceptable. Of course if I had a mix of standard and Blu-ray disks, I’d no doubt be well aware of the better quality afforded by the latter’s 1920×1080 resolution as compared with standard DVDs (720×576).

If I remember, I’ll report back in a couple of years as to how well this unit is performing. If you’ve got any questions please put them in the comments.