These days where you can find a Sony DVD player with HDMI output costing USD 60 at Best Buy you may wonder why someone in his (or her) right mind would buy a USD 100 player from Panasonic. The answer is simple: Panasonic DVD-S53 can play not only Divx files – a feature somewhat easy to find on players from major brands – but also MPEG4 files. If you have a lot of home videos stored under these formats in your PC this feature gives you the opportunity to burn all your videos directly to DVD-ROM as regular files and play them on your TV, without the need to convert them to DVD-Video format first, process that takes an eternity.
This can also save a lot of space on your hard drive, as you can delete the files from your drive and simply use the DVD-ROM you burned with your files whenever you want to watch your videos at your PC.
This player also features a HDMI output, allowing you to connect your player to your HDTV with the best connection available today, increasing the resolution of your DVD and video files up to 1080p, a feature called “upconversion” or “upscaling.” Pay attention as there are some cheap players with HDMI output around that don’t go up to 1080p, some go up to 1080i or even less and that is another reason why this unit is more expensive than other players.
DVD-S53 is available in two colors, black (DVD-S53K) or silver (DVD-S53S). We reviewed the black one.
In Figure 2, you can see all the connectors available on S53. It offers HDMI, component video, S-video and composite video outputs. Of course for the best image quality you will need to connect the unit to your TV using HDMI. If you don’t have a HDTV yet then you will need to connect your player to your TV using one of the other available connections.
For audio, this unit offers audio over HDMI (more on this later). This unit also has a coaxial digital audio (SPDIF) output, but not an optical one, which is a shame, especially for an expensive product like this. This unit also provides two analog audio outputs (left and right channels) to allow you have audio through your TV in the case you don’t have a home theater receiver around (for example, you are travelling and decided to carry your player to hook it up to the TV player available on the summer house you are going to stay).
This player comes only with one audio/video cable for composite video and analog stereo audio. If you will connect your player to your HDTV – which is probably the case, as you picked a player with HDMI output – you will need a HDMI cable.
You should be careful because retail stores like Walmart, Best Buy and Circuit City charges a lot for HDMI cables – it could cost you half the price you paid for your player, which is insane. At Newegg.com you can find the same HDMI cable for less than USD 10. It seems that a lot of people research for prices on the player, but forget about researching for prices on the HDMI cable. You will probably need to buy a SPDIF coaxial cable too, depending on your home theater setup. More about this in the next page.
You can see this unit’s remote control in Figure 3. It is not capable of controlling any TVs, even the ones manufactured by Panasonic.