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Discussion Starter #1
Members,
Being curious about the merits of these three DVD players, I decided to purchase each and see for myself.


Summarizing from my previous posts...I was confused about de-interlacing and picture quality. And like many of you, I took to heart that Don and Stacey's Shootout II revealed the Panasonic RP56 to be arguably the best. However, as everyone knows now (and after reading the review again), they were testing solely on the de-interlacing capabilities.


Because of the Shootout, I surmised that indeed the RP56 is the best because 1) it secretly contains the Sage/Faroudja de-interlacing chip and 2) it value is unmatched @ approx $200. I bought the RP56 and was very impressed initially. I thought it was THE bargain of the year!


Until I read other RP91 owners who enthusiastically switched from the RP56. But I was adamant - I had a fair amount of concert DVDs in 4:3 and video based. The RP56 would do well with my film based DVDs but complemented my video based DVDs. Besides, Don and Stacey noted the Genesis chip is no match for the Sage.


At the same time, Stacey mentioned the new Toshiba 4700. I was understandably curious and bought its no-bells&whistle brethren, the 3750 (for $190). The 3750 has the same Zoran MPEG chip as the 4700/5700, but w/out HDCD and DVD-A.


I was still bothered about the RP91 because I wanted this player when it first arrived on the scene. But I waited to see the competing players. After a while the market was muddled with RP56, 3750, 5900, Q50; I lost site of the 91. I thought I was secure with the "best value" belief in the RP56. However, I was still thinking about the 91.


Wanting to settle this for my own eyes, I purchased the RP91. Three weeks have passed and below are my personal findings. BTW, the RP56 and 3750 were returned to Sears and Best Buy respectively this afternoon. I'm a very happy man. :D

Equipment Used for Testing DVD Players:
HDTV: Mitsubishi WS-55805; 16x9 55" HDTV; no scaling abilities w/Progressive signals (locks into Anamorphic Mode)


Processor: Denon AVR3300

Amplifier: Outlaw 750

Speakers: Monitor Silver 5i, Centre, FX, ASW110

Interconnects: Outlaw PDA, PCO


Reference DVDs

Video: James Taylor, Sting, Eagles

Film: Fifth Element, Shakespeare in Love, An Ideal Husband


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FEATURES: 3750, winner


Toshiba just knows user friendly. Its terrible remote is contrasted by it's excellent GUI (be it on the screen or front fascia); it should be noted that the 3750 uses Icon w/Text display. One can zoom, display 4:3 (with side bars) and non-anamorphic (with bars all around the pic), and change video/audio settings in digital domain on the fly (it's not mandatory to access the "settings" menu).


The Panasonics had the same GUI with ICON based display settings only. While useful, the GUI leaves a lot to be desired.


The RP56 has an adequate remote, while the RP91 has an excellent one! The RP91 of course can display 4:3 and non-anamorphic sans stretch mode on HDTV sets that locks into full anamorphic.


BUILD QUALITY: RP91 and 3750, tie


The 3750 was the biggest unit. It felt hefty compared to the featherweight RP56 (which is scary!). The RP91 is in between. All three have light metal casings; the 3750 has a sturdy DVD tray with adequate front fascia while the RP91 has a slow DVD tray with a brushed black aluminum fascia look.


SOUND: RP91, winner


I tested all three using only the optical digital out (the RP56 has one dig out). I couldn't believe the RP91 and 3750 having so much the better audio in bitstream! The RP56 seem distant and boxy. I'm a firm believer in "bits are bits" but 91 and 3750 had such better involving sound in DD and DTS! Perhaps the better pict quality made the experience more involving? The RP91 edges the 3750 because the inclusion of DVD-A.


DE-INTERLACER: RP56, winner


With its Sage chip, the 56 shows no jaggies with video based materials. However, there is a caveat. My set locks into full anamorphic, so 4:3 materials stretch to fit the 16x9 screen. If it didn't do such a good job de-interlacing, it would've surely lost due to the stretch.


The 3750 was much worse. While it could display in 4:3 with black side bars, it produced the greatest amount of jaggies on video based DVDs


The surprise was the RP91. Yes it produced some jaggies, but hardly noticeable in 4:3 mode. I have to say, this Genesis chip does a VERY GOOD JOB in the RP91. I don't understand why many harp it so bTo me, it was NOT a "night and day" difference between the 56 and 91! It did an admirable job, IMO. (Perhaps I need to rent some cartoons?)


PICTURE QUALITY: RP91, winner


This is what's it all about. The 56 has muted colors and occasionally pushes reds just too much; it's thin and 2 dimensional. Don and Stacey were right, you can only do so much with lower quality components in this very light player.


The 3750 displays a decent pic quality. It had a tad more depth. But in the end the picture was just too soft (even when I add sharpness).


I don't know what Panasonic did, but this IS the under $1,000 REFERENCE DVD PLAYER (IMY of course). Colors were deep and rich; one could say that it was very 3-dimensional. There were no noise, ringing, or fading; it was extremely clear. There is a "F" Fine picture adjustment that adds to it's razor sharpness (mind you the "F" did not ad edge enhancement - at least in my eyes). I cannot explain this feature and the manual never goes into it. The picture is now 5 xs better than my previous Radeon HTPC; the HTPC converted signals all digitally to 540p, 1000i, and 1080i). This is the SOLE reason why I've abandoned HTPC -- It's that good.


Well transferred anamorphics will look so close to Hi-Def. With films such as the Fifth Element and Shakespeare in Love, the picture was just fantastic! The details are there in Fifth Element, with its futuristic metropolis and costumes. The colors are well represented in Shakespeare...between Viola's ball to the Victorian clothing. All the colors are so vivid, yet skin tones were dead on. Take a look at the cup when Will Shakespeare throws his paper at the beginning. Take a look at the tube pump that injects yellow liquid at the beginning of her regeneration process. Both are items are glassy smooth - "silky smooth" as another AVS member e-mailed me.


I was equally impressed with the well transferred video based materials. DVD's such as James Taylor - Live at the Beacon and Sing - Live at the Universal Amphitheater were spot on. The ever-changing colors on both sets were incredible. In addition, one can feel the immense closeness with each singer as their sweat and facial expression are detailed!


In conclusion, the Panasonic RP91 is in my mind, UNEQUIVOCALLY the best of the progressives. It's PERFECT blend of Visual and Sound abilities are incredible. At $450 it's a steal - worth every penny over the $200 RP56. Highly recommended.
 

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Thanks for the info Vu. You now have me courious about the 91. I also have the 56...... Might need to go look for a 91 and see for my self.
 

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Thanks for your insightful review bodegabay. I was prepared to order the RP56, but you've got me leaning to the RP91 now. How does the interlaced output look? I intend to buy the new Princeton Graphics HD monitor coming out this month, but it'll be Xmas before I get it and I will probably replace my main DVD player in the meantime (though with prices falling as fast as they are, I may be able to get the 91 for the same price as the 56 if I'm willing to wait a couple more months).


On a related question, does anyone know whether (or more appropriately when) Panasonic will be updating/replacing the 91 with a newer model containing the Sage chip included in the 56 already?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys.


Jim,

The Interlace Output looks pretty good, certainly better than previous interlace players (like my Denon 2500). It's no match against it's progressive output though. (There was another thread here from some members seeing only minor differences - it's a huge difference IMO)


I highly doubt Panasonic will update the 91 with a Sage chip. If anything, they'll have a completely new player. I have not heard anything about Panasonic even hinting about new players. At the earliest, it would be late summer if they release new lines. Remember, the RP91 and it's high end brother, the H2000 have been on the market a few months.
 

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Okay, I'm sold. If I wait any longer to make a decision on a new DVD player, I'll read another thread somewhere touting some other model that will only paralyze me in indecision again.


Is the RP91 available in stores? While I found the RP56 at Best Buy, I haven't seen the RP91 anywhere.
 

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The RP91 is available online ... try mysimon.com or pricegrabber.com for best price.
 

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Thanks Brajesh. I have seen it online.


I was wondering, though, whether it was available in stores. Many stores will match a reasonable online price (adjusted for shipping) and, being an instant gratification kind of fellow, I thought maybe I'd be able to find it this weekend.
 

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I'm in NYC and the Wiz carries it (champagne color only). If you call around you should be able to find one. However, at the Wiz, the price was $650 (hardly worth the instant gratification).


Good luck,

Brett
 

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Jim,


Out west the RP-91 is available from Good Guys, Magnolia Hi-Fi and various high end shops. I have heard that farther east it can be found at Sound Advice, but I don't know if they go into TN.


Check your phone book for high end shops and call around. I'm sure somewone will have it. But be prepared to pay a premium, smaller shops often won't price match. The standard retail price of the RP-91 is around $600.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Jim,


I purchased mine from www.JandR.com at a very reasonable price. They are from NY and are very reputable. They do price match, albeit from "authorized dealers." I was able to have them price match from two unauthorized e-tailers though. As always, be nice and apreciative with the rep you're talking to (call them for price match 1-800-221-8180).

www.jandr.com

$499.99 + 7.88 UPS Ground

I was able to get it matched $436.00 + 7.88 = $440

www.buydig.com

$416 + 29 FedEX Saver = $445

www.ecost.com

$429 + 17.15 UPS Ground = $446
 

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I couldn't agree with you more about RP-91. It's the best DVD Player there is on the market for under $1,000!


I currently own a Pioneer Elite DV-37, which I thought was the best under $1,000 at the time when I bought it a half year ago. Now RP-91 beats it hands-down in terms of video fidelity - color accuracy, image quality, definition, noise level, etc. It matches with my Pioneer Elite HDTV much better than Pioneer's own DVD player. Go figure!


Originally I was little concerned about the performance of its Genesis chip. After seeing it the first time. all doubts are gone. I couldn't care less if Silicon Image or Sage chip does it better!


On the audio side, DVD-A performance is less impressive than I thought it should be, this is compared to my cheap Sony DVD/SACD player DVP-NS500V, which is a SACD bargain at $299! Regular CD payback is even less enjoyable.


All said, if DVD video quality is paramount to you, RP-91 won't disappoint!


By the way, the automatic scaling of 4:3 material works like a charm and all my non-anamophic movies are much more enjoyable to watch than before. There is no other player I know of that has this feature. This alone would merit your serious consideration for RP-91!


Great job, Panasonic! Next time, make the audio just as good as the video and RP-91 will be hard to beat - at any price!
 

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Great post bodegabay but I was wondering if you (or anyone) compared the RP91 with a recent JVC player like the XV-SA70 (black) or 75 (gold) models?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by JackD
I couldn't agree with you more about RP-91. It's the best DVD Player there is on the market for under $1,000!
What do people consider the "best DVD Player there is" period. Comments based on actual viewing experience appreciated. ;)


/eric
 

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I am in the market for a new DVD player and my dealer keeps pushing Sony and SACD. JackD, how does the RP91 compare to the Sony 500 in terms of video quality?


Greg
 

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Greg,


To answer your question about comparing RP-91 with Sony NS500V (DVD/SACD player) in terms of video quality, it's no comparison. RP-91 is much better, hands-down, although NS500V has quite decent video performance in its own right. It's just not in the same category as RP-91 is a progressive player and NS500V is an interlaced one.


On the other hand, I personally think the audio quality of NS500V is better than RP-91 in terms of CD playback. Its SACD performance is simply BREATHTAKING and beats RP-91's DVD-Audio performance, hands-down!


All said, if video performance, not budget, is of your paramount concern, go with RP-91. However, if audio quality (and SACD palyback) is just as important as video quality and you don't want to spend more than $300 and don't necessarily need a progressive player, Sony's NS500V is a bargain!


JackD


P.S. I've heard Sony DVP-NS700 progressive player has great video performance for the money ($299) but it has no SACD. It won't hurt to check it out against NS500V and RP-91.
 
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