I have always liked Panasonic DVD players, despite the fact that one of them died while I was not abusing it in any way. Still, Panasonic DVD players historically lacked the semi-essential feature: a USB port. This is not something that can be said for recent Philips DVD players. Since (and I repeat myself) one of my Panasonic DVD players died on me with an error indicating a motor failure, I decided to check out the Philips DVP5992. I used it with the 42-inch Panasonic Viera TH-42PX80U TV, Panasonic XR57K receiver and Athena S.5 speakers.
Although the Panasonic DVD-S54 would let me use an all-Panasonic setup with Viera Link functionality and coordinated colors and design, the DVP5992 was less than $50 and plays virtually all formats as well as features a USB port.
My trust in Philips DVD players is founded on using some of their previous models. I have been using the Philips DVP642 DVD player in the past and it excelled at playing DivX, PAL, AVI and MPEG. But the remote control was horrible and the picture quality while playing store-bought DVDs was not the best. It had no HDMI out or USB port. The Philips DVP5960 that I got later was better and improved the standard DVD playback and gave me a decent remote as well as a front USB port. Not to mention DVD up-conversion with an HDMI port. Still, I switched to Pioneer DV-400V later.
My mother uses the, similar to this model, DVP5990 and it works very well. The DVP5992 improves on the DVP5960 with USB 2.0, better DivX playback and upconversion up to 1080p.
The DVP5992 can play DivX, Xvid and JPEG files, MPEG1, VCD, SVCD, MPEG2, MP3, WMA, DivX (3.11, 4.x, 5.x, 6.0, DivX Ultra). You do not need to create a VCD disc structure, just copy the MPEG/AVI files to a CD-R/W or DVD-R/W or DVD+R/W disc and insert it into this player and it will play them. That is, of course, in addition to playing DVD-Video and CD-Audio. Pretty mach all formats are supported short of DVD-Audio or SACD. And, of course, Blu-Ray or HD DVD would not be supported at this price.
The player can play PAL and NTSC discs on a PAL or NTSC TV. It can even convert PAL to NTSC and vice versa. Nice. The progressive scan and the upconversion to 720p, 1080i or even 1080p are also nice features, as is the HDMI out (which is even more important).
The player is DivX Ultra certified. It can also play music, video and JPEG images directly from the USB port (e.g. from a USB flash drive or even a USB-connected hard drive).
The DVP5992 has a coaxial digital audio out (no optical). There is also an analog stereo audio out, a composite video out and a component video out (progressive scan/interlaced), but no S-Video. There is also an HDMI out. Pretty much all you need (well, some people might prefer an optical audio out over coaxial; but I personally do not care since I use the HDMI out). All outs are well-marked and arranged.
The front panel has a USB jack, which you can connect USB drives with media files to and play those files from the drive (USB drive or even an external HDD).
This DVD player is medium-sized and is rather light. There are only a few buttons on the front panel: power, eject, play, stop. The display is bright, but is still pretty small in terms of the amount of information it fits. For comparison, the Panasonic displays feature several colors, clear separation of digit groups and more real estate.
The player is more intuitive to use than the DVP642. Its remote is much better than the remote control of the DVP642, which had rows and rows of poorly-marked buttons with some buttons having several uses. Although still not as good as Panasonic DVD remotes (which I could use my eyes closed, until the player died from the motor failure, that is), this remote is usable and is definitely more stylish.
The onscreen displays are not as informative or well-designed as the ones of Panasonic or the Pioneer DV-400V, but are better than the DVP642 ones. The player can convert PAL to NTSC rather well. I noticed no jerky movement and the image quality was pretty good. Interestingly, when the TV is turned off, the player senses it through the HDMI connection and turns itself off also.
Using the player's HDMI out to connect it directly to the 42PX80U 42-inch Panasonic Viera plasma TV, the quality is great. The player is set to upconvert to 720p, which is the TV's native resolution (or close to it). The image quality overall was great. The player played my MPEG and AVI computer files flawlessly. There is a delay before the playback of the each file, but it was pretty short.
Over HDMI, the picture quality is excellent and upconversion works really well. It is almost as good as the upconversion of my Toshiba A3 HD DVD player when I play regular DVDs on it. Still, upconversion is no replacement for Blu-Ray or HD DVD. You can still see jagged diagonal lines (stair step), which is especially apparent while watching South Park. You can see that Cartman's mouth is made of individual pixels and upconversion only makes them larger squares.
So is upconversion better than no upconversion? Well, your TV will upconvert any standard-def programming anyway, but if you supply 480i (or even 480p) signal over analog connection from your DVD player, the DVD converts the signal from digital to analog first, then the TV will have to convert it into digital form again and scale it. The result is blurrier image with less detail and depth. A DVD player with an HDMI input can pass the signal in digital form to the TV and even if it is in 480i or 480p format, it is still better than if you used any analog connection: composite, component or S-Video.
I conducted a small test. I took the older Philips DVP642 and connected it to the TV using its component out with 480p progressive scan enabled. I also connected this Philips DVP5992 using HDMI with 720p upconversion enabled.
The results were remarkably different between the component video (480i/480p) and HDMI upconversion to 720p. The component video and no upconversion produced images that were softer, lacked detail, contrast and produced stairstep artifacts during any motion. The results over S-Video and composite video connections were progressively worse.
The result over HDMI using 720p was much, much better. No noise, sharper image with better contrast and colors, no artifacts during camera pans. So the moral of this story is: if you have a decent newer TV, get an upconverting DVD player with HDMI like this one, or you are wasting your TV's potential.
And also keep in mind that the cheapest HDMI cable (provided it is not broken) would provide better picture quality than the composite, component or S-Video connection (even if you use the most expensive composite, component or S-Video cable).
Not unlike other DVD players that can play multiple formats, the files can be burned on a CD-R/W or DVD disc of any format (+/- R/W) just as a regular data CD with no VCD structure needed. You can even record AVI and MPG files onto a DVD-R/W or DVD+R/W and the player will play them.
I like the fact that the DVP5992 plays PAL on an NTSC TV and plays computer-friendly videos. The great player for people who need to play European DVDs or downloaded videos was improved upon and is now a better choice for ones who also want to play regular DVDs with no mental anguish.
The player's USB port in front accepts flash memory drives that are formatted with FAT32 and plays material from them well. This is very convenient for several reasons: you don't have to burn whatever you want to play on a CD/DVD (be in videos, photos or music), you can fit a lot on a flash USB drive or a USB hard drive, you get your material faster from the computer to your TV.
I discovered that this player can play DivX better than my current universal DVD player of choice, the Pioneer Elite DV-48AV. It plays some of the discs that the Pioneer refuses to load and also smoothly plays some DivX files that stutter on the Pioneer. Nice!
I like the player's low price, features, connectivity options, PAL playback and conversion to NTSC, computer video file playback. The player has good build quality, very good video and sound. Its HDMI and upconversion up to 1080p, USB 2.0 port, improved DivX playback are great features.
Although it is not fair to complain at this price, I still would like to mention the player's feature-less LCD display.
If you need an inexpensive player that plays virtually any format, plays PAL discs on an NTSC TV, plays computer files (including MP3, WMA, MPEG and AVI) and DivX, and plays media files from a USB drive, the DVP5992 is a great choice. And the HDMI port and upconversion at this price are also impressive. But if you just want a DVD player with excellent picture quality and ease of use, you might want to consider the Panasonic DVD-S54 for similar price.