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RCA DVD Changer

RCA DVD Player Spins Multiple Movies

By Jim Bray

What can you do if you covet a DVD player, but don’t want to lose the multi-disc convenience of your CD changer?

Get a DVD changer!

I’ve tried two of these recently, a high end, two disc Toshiba and the subject of this column, RCA’s 5-disc RC5910P.

The $350 RCA is a far more mainstream unit than the $999 Toshiba. It doesn’t offer non-interlaced video or “Super Audio CD” sound, for example, but it has just about everything else one could want from a DVD player, including “snob” features like optical and coaxial digital audio jacks and even component video terminals.

The RCA also has two sets of conventional analog audio/video outputs and even an “S-Connector,” all of which makes it compatible with just about any audio video system you might have.

The player handles Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS discs, and there’s even a “Spatializer N-2-2” simulated surround mode – though it’s no substitute for real surround sound. The deck also has most of the CD changer features you’ve come to expect, like disc skip and disc exchange (which lets you swap the discs that aren’t playing without interrupting the one that is), as well as programmed play and a series of random options that can span either one disc or all the discs you have loaded.

The RC5910P plays almost all of your optical discs (except for the 12 inch laserdiscs, of course), including DVD, audio CD and Video CD’s (if you can ever find one). It won’t play your home made audio CD’s, however, which is a real shame. It seems to be getting harder and harder to find any DVD player that’ll handle CD-R’s, though, including the abovementioned higher end Toshiba, so RCA is definitely not alone in this shortcoming.

RCA does at least give you a warning in the owner’s manual not to even try playing CD-R’s. It says the wavelength that the player uses could actually erase your CD-R’s, so best to take this warning to heart, just in case.

Hookup and setup are very easy, even if you don’t consult the manual. If you do need the manual you’ll find it written in plain English with plenty of illustrations. The writers don’t assume you have a vast “gadgetary knowledge” and even give you helpful hints like “Don’t forget to plug it in,” which may seem silly – but you’d be surprised how many people forget such basic steps and then wonder why the player isn’t working.

I spent most of my time with the RC5910P using the coaxial digital audio output and the component video and, all things considered, I found it to be a mostly pleasant unit to use and one that performed as advertised.

The mechanism was a little noisier than my reference player, but it also isn’t as high end. On the other hand, my “higher end” reference player doesn’t offer DTS audio, which proves that you just can’t win no matter what you do…

The test unit seemed to have an occasional flutter that would result in a complete lack of sound. It was almost as if it needed to be “rebooted,” because if I opened and closed the disc tray it would work fine again.

It was weird, but it also didn’t happen often enough that I could put my finger on what, if anything, the problem was.

The RC5910P comes with one of RCA’s programmable universal remote controls, which you can use to operate a variety of VCR's, TV's, DSS, etc. It won't control all brands, but it'll handle many of them.

The remote is, for the most part, fairly straightforward, but I preferred the company’s remotes from a few years back – from the days before systems got as complicated as they are today.

Fortunately, the RC5910P’s front panel has all the controls you’re likely to need, and they’re laid out logically.

I don’t have the attention span to sit through five DVD movies in one sitting, but the multiple disc feature comes in really handy if you’re programming an evening’s worth of music.

Since it’s a changer, it’s a bit deeper than your average CD or DVD player, but I doubt this will cause much of a problem for most shelving units.

More importantly, it has what it takes to most of your discs to your heart’s content.

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.

 

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Updated May 13, 2006