APEX AD600A DVD Player
Estimated price: $179.99
Like anything else in the electronic marketplace, you get what you paid for. (Though that is not always true, my Paradigm speakers sounds just as good as some twice or three times the cost.) That said, price was only one of the reasons I wanted to buy the APEX DVD player, but not the only reason.
The AD600A is, as far as I can find, the only DVD player that also plays MP3′s. I will say that again: this home entertainment DVD player will also play MP3′s. The perfect answer to all you Napster fans out there? Maybe, maybe not…
The AD600A is a cheap looking DVD player, which may come as so surprise when you notice the price. However, the prospect of having one (small) machine play both DVD’s and MP3 was simply too tempting for me, so I took the plunge and purchased the machine. (If all else fails, it is only a sub-$200 DVD player, after all)
DVD playback was pretty average. By that, I mean it had no problems playing any of the DVD discs I fed it. All played fine. There are some voice synch problems I notice every now and then. While the voice my be a few micro-seconds faster or slower than the picture, it is still nonetheless a distraction while viewing a movie. You find yourself watching the actors lips to see if the sound is off or not. “Is it me, or does the sound and picture not seem, I dunno, wrong somehow?” I would ask Julie. “Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Like the sound is off just a little or something” she says. A quick stop and restart of the machine and the problem goes away. Annoying, yes, but for under $200 not a major complaint. And as I said, it happens rarely.
Controlling the Unit
Menu’s are another matter. I have used many VCR, DVD, and Amplifier menus in my life, but the APEX designers seem to follow their own rules. I do not like the way the menu settings are set up. It makes no sense. While some features can be turned on/off via the menu, there are others (such as Close Captioning) which is only controlled via a button on the remote control. For all your electronic wizards out there, here is the golden rule of Remote Controls: always have access to a menu and ALL FEATURES available via the deck, not just the remote. You lose the remote, and Close Captioning will be on forever.
Some features, such as the “Surround Sound” button seem to do nothing at all. Every time I press it, it says “Surround Sound Off” with no option of turning it on. (Even though it is, in fact, playing through my Onkio stereo is great Surround Sound audio.) Many buttons seem to do nothing at all during playback of DVD’s, though you would think they would. The manual, not surprisingly, is zero help. In fact, the manual does not even MENTION MP3 in it, though the deck is compatible with the format.
The AD600A also runs a little warmer than some other DVD players. Ejected Discs were warm to the touch, but not any warmer than a CD taken from a car CD player. Still, the heat worries me for long-term ownership. Are things slowly cooking under the plastic case? How long is the life expectancy of the player when it operates on a regular basis with this heat? Only time will tell.
As I said, the ability to play MP3′s on the machine was a huge deciding factor in my wanting the unit. But I found that this is a tricky proposition at best, and you must have a firm knowledge of both MP3 and burning your own CD’s to be successful.
My first test was to download some MP3′s using Napster, burning them to a Audio CD formatted disc, and playing it on the AD600A. Well, this works, but ONLY if the MP3 file is a layer 3 MP3 and a bit rate of at least 128kbps. Anything lower, and the AD600A will not recognize the file as a MP3.
I found also that rather than burning the CD in Audio CD format, the APEX machine was much happier is I burned the CD in ISO 9660 (PC) format. The names were all messed up at this point, but the unit would play the songs more reliably.
Loading a disc, be it a MP3, DVD, or regular CD (Yes, it plays those as well) takes forever long. Much longer than I would think necessary. Also, the on/off button on the unit itself does not work in concert with the remote. To turn the APEX on, you have to click the button on the unit itself, then you can use the remote to power the unit on/off. If you turn the unit off on the desk itself, the remote will NOT turn on the unit. This may seem trivial, but it shows a huge lack of decent or even acceptable design practices. Men are flogged for less…
Single Tray DVD, VCD, CD, SVCD, CVD, DVCD Player. (Perhaps some other acronyms I may have missed) PAL/NTSC System Compatible, Dolby Digital/DTS, S-Video and Component Video output. MP3 Compatible. Built-in Karaoke. (Yes, it also does Karaoke. I never tried that feature. Who would? I suppose that the edition of Karaoke would make it a great unit in a bar or tavern, but for home use…)
The APEX AD600A played every disc I tossed it’s way, with no problems. While the control of the unit is archaic compared to other units, it is (barely) acceptable. Price.
Cheaply made. Operates too hot. Unconventional controls. Occasional DVD Audio playback synch problems. Limited MP3 audio playback.
While I enjoy using the machine, it is the cheapest Home Entertainment component I have ever purchased. I have always taken the stance “If your gonna buy something, try to get the best for your money” This is not the case with the APEX player. I would rather have the $179.99 back, toss is another hundred dollars, and get a much higher quality DVD player. That, and a patch cord from my Mac to the Stereo Receiver would give me MP3 over my home speakers.
I would suggest if you want a DVD player, but simply will not spend more than $179.99, this unit is for you. It will work, and playback is (mostly) very good. If, however, you want quality in your audio/video equipment, look elsewhere.
MacMice Rating: 3