The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]

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DVD Information
DVD information by our resident DVD expert (self appointed!)
Alan Head

Alan says:-

I know that Steve (and potentially some other list members) were teetering on the brink of taking the plunge into the digital waters of DVD, so I thought I'd recommend a couple of players. Whilst I don't own either of the players work colleagues do and recommend them highly - in particular they don't exhibit any of the problems certain players have with certain discs (including my trusty Samsung 807's refusal to play bits of "The Red Shoes").

Player One is the Wharfedale 750, an exclusive to larger Tesco stores and priced at £170, and is the ideal "Bargain Basement" option. It can be made region-free easily with a few keypresses of the remote control and has all the basic functionality you need, bundled up with an unattractive remote control and case. It may be a little lacking in outputs, and only has one SCART socket which will cause problems if you want to daisychain it with other AV kit. It is currently out of stock in most Tescos, but Wharfedale will be shipping another 10,000 units before Christmas.

Player Two is the Pioneer 525, available in region-free form from for just under £300. This has all the build quality you would expect from a major CE manufacturer, and benefits from a "smart-card" style modification which does not void the players warranty. If I was buying a new player this would probably be my choice - it has a good range of outputs and all that you need from an AV perspective. Techtronics are also a reputable supplier.

Later Alan said:-
As to buying R1 (American) discs, I recommend - I've bought all my R1 stuff from them, and discs typically take seven working days to get from LA to my door in Reading, using standard international airmail.

Later Alan wrote:-

I had a chance to compare the Wharfedale and Pioneer side by side today, and to my surprise the Wharfedale wins hands down - the remote is much better to use, sound is perceptibly better (not sure how that happens - I guess its down to how well the player deals with outputting the Dolby Digital bitstream to the amp, but being digital it shouldn't make any difference). The picture is a closer call, and I think I marginally prefer the Pioneer to the Wharfedale, but not to the extent that it warrants an extra 120 quid. The Wharfedale also handles layer changes better - no interruption to the picture unlike the Pioneer, and only a marginal effect on the soundtrack (brief dropout). Whilst talking about layer changes it turns out that the Pioneer is noisy on layer two and the Wharfedale on layer one, overall the Wharfedale is slightly noisier, although even my low end Dolby Digital solution was powerful enough to mask the noise. The Wharfedale also seems to be getting quieter, which points to the drive mechanism bedding in over time.

Where the Wharfedale loses out is in poor (slow) response to commands (menus, remote commands, button presses, etc) and the occasional glitch with disc menus - my Criterion Third Man refused to play from the menu screen and I had to start it manually from the Chapter selection page, which is no great hardship. I've also read of similar problems with the Criterion edition of Rushmore which suggests to me that possibly Criterion's method of DVD authoring is slightly incompatible with the player, although as I mentioned its nothing really serious.

All this means is that the Pioneer will shortly be finding a new home and I'd recommend that you go and and buy a Wharfedale, unless you need to loop it through your video to the TV (the Macrovision circuitry which is disables on the Pioneer will cause problems). If this is going to cause problems then there is 2 month old Pioneer 525 for sale, complete with the balance of the suppliers 2 year warranty and free delivery within the London area - yours for 250 quid, and it comes already accustomed to playing AMOLAD, TRS and PT on regular rotation...

Remainder of FAQ Section 2