Our DVD player had been playing up for a while. You might be 100 mins into a 120 mins movie, have to stop for some reason, and then it won't play again. The stupid thing mentioned on several occasions that the disc wasn't readable. "Um, hello? You've just been playing the DVD fine up until now. What's the problem?"
Post-Christmas sales aren't a bad time to buy. I had a few shops in mind - Strathfield, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and Harvey Norman. Miky had asked me to buy a name brand and not the cheapest thing I could find so I did take a bit of money in case I had to buy a DVD/VHS combo with PVR (hard drive).
Strathfield had the Highlander DVX-5260 which offered DivX, MPEG4, MP3, Karaoke, HDCD, Kodak Picture CD, CD, Windows Media, JPEG and all region playback. It looked exactly what I wanted and was only A$47.40. I wasn't sure if it was ok as it promised a lot of features and the sales guy said if I wanted to trial it just bring a disk in.
JB Hi-Fi had a Pioneer DV-300-S for A$128 that played DivX, DVD, WMA, MP3, Photoviewer, VCD, CD and all region playback. Not bad but the value wasn't as good as Strathfield's offering.
The Good Guys had a Panasonic DVD-S33 for $115 (cash) which was region-free, and played DVD-R, CD, MP3, JPEG, DivX and Windows Media. They had a few other brands for sale also.
Didn't bother going to Harvey Norman as these places seemed to have reasonable deals. I did as the first sales guy suggested and put together a DVD player trial disk along with a DVD, VCD, CD, MP3 and DivX files on disks.
The Highlander played my Red Dwarf DivX files and it turned out to be the only player to do so. When it came to the trial DVD with nine files it could only read that there were seven but couldn't play any of them. I didn't bother looking any further.
Journeyed down to the Good Guys and trialled the Panasonic. It had issues too. The sales guy was very helpful, and should be commended for his efforts, as I wanted to use the remote controls as well to skip files. They had eight or nine players that they sold and it came down to a battle between a Samsung (we have a Samsung currently) and a Conia. They both failed on the Red Dwarf DivX (no biggie) but the Samsung crashed at this point, and the computer video of Ice Age demo they only played the audio. MP3, WMA (audio) and JPEGs were fine. The Samsung couldn't play the VCD (video CD) whereas the Conia could.
Conia it was then. It had the greatest amount of playback features that were operational. And this unit only set me back A$49 for cash. I had been prepared to pay up to A$200 if necessary but this was the best machine even though it was the second cheapest anywhere. Must have spent 40-45 mins in the shop but the guy got his sale. And I was a relieved customer.
Took it home and didn't use it for a week. Funny that. The remote allows you to fast forward and rewind like a VHS player and also zoom in on the screen which is a pretty nifty feature. So far so good. It will take a bit of getting used to the remote but that's a small price to pay for being able to watch a DVD uninterrupted now.