Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
The Beyonwiz DP-S1 pretty much defies easy categorisation. What is it? A DVD player? Yes. A high definition digital TV receiver? Yes. A personal video recorder? Yes. A media centre? Yes.
That’s an awful lot to pack into one component, but it means that the unit could potentially replace nearly all your other source devices.
The DVD player section does what it claims: it just plays back DVDs. It can output them through the usual analog video outputs, or upscale them to be delivered over the HDMI output.
The high definition PVR function also does what it claims. It has two tuners so that you can record two stations at once onto the 200GB hard disk drive, and even play back a previous recording at the same time. If you take advantage of IceTV (it’ll cost you about $3 per week after the trial period) and have the unit networked, you will have a convenient seven day electronic program guide, which automatically updates, from which you can choose your recordings.
As a media centre, the Beyonwiz DP-S1 seemingly supports everything. It showed photos from a USB thumbdrive and an SD card plugged into the appropriate slots on the front. It played back MP3 files and displayed JPEG photos from my computer via the wireless network, and when I used a wired Ethernet connection, it would also play back DVD and HD quality video.
With all this functionality, be prepared to spend a bit of time familiarising yourself with the unit and getting it set up properly. The Quick Setup chapter of the manual runs to sixteen pages!
But if you’re familiar with these things, you will find that most operations are intuitive. Perhaps the only thing to keep in mind is that when playing back material, the unit exhibits no bias. You press the Folder key, and it is from that screen that you can choose the DVD player, recordings from the hard disc, or recordings from other sources (plugged-in cards, a computer on the network).
A particularly useful feature is the Pop-up key, which brings up a menu with options relevant to the particular mode that you are in.
The review unit was supplied just days after launch, and Beyonwiz is still adding functionality to it. For example, there is a ‘wizTV’ key on the remote which will one day provide access to internet media, but this is not yet operating. Nor are the features yet included to allow the transfer of recordings over the network to a computer. But these should be available soon.
Not all was perfect with the unit. The main issue I had was with the picture quality from DVDs over the HDMI output. The lowest video standard available with this unit’s HDMI was 576p (progressive scan), but it used an inferior form of deinterlacing that reduced the sharpness of the picture on many movies.
Nonetheless, this is a well-thought-out and incredibly versatile unit, with an excellent time shift feature (for pausing or rewinding live TV). I would just keep my regular DVD player as well.