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The rack companion

tech reviews Updated: Mar 10, 2009 20:24 IST
Highlight Story

The good old rack mount DVD player has returned in a ‘slick and sexy’ avatar. Let’s see how well it fares.

Form
With an unconventional shape and fluid curved edges that seem square from the top, this unit is definitely good looking. It is not sleek, in fact it is considerably thick. The top surface has a glossy black piano finish, and a single Samsung logo is printed in the centre. The sides and bottom panel are black matte finished, and a silver metallic strip forms the rim of the tray on the edge of the front panel. Seamlessness seems to be the dominating idea. The touch sensitive top panel buttons are flush mounted into the surface but aren’t entirely flat. The ‘stop’, ‘play’ symbols are contoured, so we can recognise them with our fingers in the dark. The remote is a simple black piece well laid out with the necessary buttons.
The aesthetics of the Pebble are no doubt well planned, but the build quality looks a bit dicey and the tray seems flimsy. On the other hand, this is definitely a very portable device.

Features
There is an HDMI out, but no USB input for flash drives. That cuts out a lot of choices, especially since MP3s, WMAs and DivX etc are supported by the player. There is no optical out, but there is a coaxial for Digital audio. There is no discrete 5.1 analog audio out either. The player does not decode surround sound and send output. There is a component output also besides HDMI. It upscales to 1080p, that’s nice, though again here it does not decode DTS audio tracks.

Performance
The remote only responds from straight up ahead. The menu is very well arranged and legible, though navigation is a tad slow. Once these quirks are swept under the carpet, the unit actually impresses quite a bit with its performance. The video is crisp, and dynamic range did not clip at the extremes, meaning we got all levels of low blacks and brightest whites. The various colour plugs are quite accurate, with colours staying in borders and detail coming through. There was no framing, skipping or delay in playback. There are artifacts when the player upscales to 1080p.

Verdict
At Rs 5,900, the Pebble is a bit pricey considering the lack of USB, no 5.1 decoded output and no DTS. The design is no doubt very good and so is the performance for HD ready screens though. It’s your call.

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