Shaped like something out of War of the Worlds, Panasonic's latest DVD design will have your techie friends drooling in envy. This ultraslim, chrome-clad slice of the future performs well and offers features not found on earlier decks. True, the DVD-XP50 costs a bit more and unfortunately has one annoying quality. But those minor drawbacks shouldn't keep it from making your shortlist of progressive-scan players with DVD-Audio (DVD-A) support.Features:
The XP50 handles a multitude of formats, including DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, and yes, DVD-A. DVD-A uses the 5.1-channel analog-audio outputs and requires a receiver or a preamp with matching inputs. Among the XP50's other audio bonuses are the Remaster feature, which resamples CD music to 24 bits, and Audio Only, which shuts off the video circuitry to supposedly reduce interference.
This deck's MP3 capabilities are among the best that we've seen, and it's one of the first players to support WMA files. The XP50 displays filenames and the disc's file tree, including folder names (for example, album titles). It can play an entire disc of MP3s at random and even lets you search for a tune anywhere on the CD by entering a few letters of the filename--very nice.
Since the XP50 lacks aspect-ratio control, owners of certain older wide-screen DTVs--those that can't resize a progressive image--will have to watch nonanamorphic discs in lower-quality interlaced mode. This Panasonic is also missing a coaxial digital-audio output, but it has an optical output, along with jacks for component video, S-Video, video, and stereo audio.