Pioneer DV-444

A top-notch DVD player with few drawbacks

WHAT'S HOT: Pioneer, known for its high-quality home theater equipment, scores well with the DV-444. It produced vivid reds and blues, without being too bright or oversaturated. It showed a flair for detail with crisp reproduction of complex patterns and didn't get tripped up by shadows. You can also tweak advanced functions to get the picture just the way you like it. The player comes with many bells and whistles, including support for MP3 CDs, and high-resolution progressive scan output, which produces a sharper picture when paired with a compatible TV.

WHAT'S NOT: Discs played through the DV-444 and regular television speakers sounded bassy and a bit distorted, though not enough to seriously interfere with your enjoyment of a film. The black and white on-screen menus are functional but boring, and the interface could be more intuitive.   WHAT ELSE: The DV-444's remote includes many small buttons that are hard to differentiate in the dark because they're the same size.

UPSHOT: Great color and detail from a quality name brand--a fine home theater system centerpiece.

By Michael Gowan

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