First-time buyers may be tempted by the real cheapie models out there on supermarket shelves, but Pioneer thinks that even newcomers to the format deserve a little more than the basics.
The DV-380 is specifically aimed at newbies, but it does not talk down to them. It offers a very respectable list of features, including some that you might not expect a first-time buyer to be interested in.
There is PAL and NTSC progressive scan, offering enhanced image quality (you need a progressive scan-capable TV to make use of this feature), and there is comprehensive file compatibility, including JPEG, MP3 and WMA files.
There is also DiVX playback, including official registration for video-on-demand downloads, and there is a wealth of picture and audio enhancements to tailor output to suit your tastes.
This is not a simple plug-in-and-play deck then, but for the most part the manual guides you through the options clearly enough. Pioneer does fall down in not spelling out the advantages of an RGB Scart connection, however - the setup section of the manual actually recommends using a simple composite video connection, claiming it is the easiest option because the necessary cable is supplied!
It may be the easiest option, but it delivers a horrible picture and defeats the object of buying a DVD player. First-time buyers may not be aware of the vastly superior picture quality to be had from an RGB Scart or component video connection, and Pioneer has done them a disservice here.
Assuming a good connection is made with your TV the DV-380 will not disappoint when it comes to performance. The image is extremely sharp and detailed, with accurate colour rendition being one of the strong points.
Home cinema sound is very good as well, but ordinary CD playback lacks the refinement you will get from a dedicated CD player.
Of course, this deck will not only appeal to aspirational newcomers - it has enough quality to lure upgraders as well. That’s quite a trick for Pioneer to have pulled off.
This may not be the best-looking DVD deck out there, but its commanding performance and comprehensive feature count make that an irrelevance.
It does all the basics very well, as any first-timer’s deck should - but it will also continue to please when the first thrill has worn off and you go looking or extra features like DiVX playback. Our final piece of advice; upgrade the cables enclosed in the box as soon as possible for the best picture.