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  Pioneer PDV-LC10 Portable DVD Player

      Date posted: November 23, 1999

Pioneer LC-10 Portable DVD Player

Sugg. Retail: $2299 (CAN)
Distributor: Pioneer Electronics of Canada
300 Allstzte Parkway,
Markham, Ont. L3R 0P2
(905) 479-4411 FAX 946-7427

(Reprinted from the Almanac 2000 Audio Ideas Guide)

      Billed as the “thinnest, smallest portable DVD, The PDV- LC10 also has a larger screen, at 7″ diagonal (16 x 9), than the two current Panasonic models. But that thinness is only when using an AC power supply, the battery cradle that attaches to the bottom of the player doubling the thickness to 2″: both battery pack and player are each an inch thick.

      The Pioneer’s screen is quite a bit larger, the Panasonic DVD-L10 one only 5 1/2″. This could be a decisive factor for many buyers, but, as they say, size isn’t everything. More on this below.

      The PDV-LC10 (Why is there a 10 in both model numbers?) not only plays 24/96 audio DVDs with full resolution, but can also output a 24/96 digital signal, this also able to be downsampled to 48 kHz. It will also output a DTS digital bitstream. A “Twin-Wave laser pickup” is used for play of DVDs, CDs, CD-Rs, and CD Video discs.

      The battery is said to last for 3.5 hours per charge, and a “Continue Play Memory” will return you to the same spot in the movie after you swap batteries. A second battery will set you back $199.

      The remote control for the player is very compact, a credit-card type, onto which are crammed 32 buttons (the brochure claims 36, so there must be a few that are very cleverly hidden). These are colour coded for easier use, and it’s quite easy to get used to. The usual Pioneer GUI menu system allows more complex operations and setup adjustments.

      All in all, this is a neat package, a player and monitor that could also serve as a DVD audio transport connected to an outboard DAC like the MSB Link. That is not true of the Panasonic, which doesn’t output a 96 kHz signal.

      One of the first DVDs I ran through the PDV-LC10 was Video Essentials, specifically, the test material. On the Pluge test a blacker than black signal could be seen, but only from a side angle, but blacks in general were good for an LCD screen. And though there was no blooming on whites, they were a little intense, even at the lowest brightness setting. The colours in between tended slightly to the pastel, with a little extra pinky red from time to time, particularly on faces.

      Grey scale performance was excellent, better than colour gradation, and resolution was also quite high from this small screen, in the area of 350+ horizontal lines. As with other LCD devices, occasional moire effects and pixelation could be seen, but this was not troublesome, limited by the small screen size. To put such artifacts in perspective, they are also seen on $20,000 plasma screens.

      In sum, picture quality is very good for this small a screen, though a little high in contrast, which cannot be adjusted, though settings of Cinema (”In this mode the black portions of the picture are expressed clearly”, according to the manual), Animation (”In this mode the colours are expressed vividly”), and Standard can be selected using the complex “Expert” part of the GUI menu. I found, to my surprise, that the most natural picture was not the default Standard, but Animation, Cinema being way too dark. Animation gave a more natural palette, and eliminated the reddish caste altogether, though contrast was still a bit high.

      I can see this player finding its way onto many airplanes early in the milennium, though it may not quite be the executive toy of the century. Though some of the setup operations require a complicated negotiation of the GUI system, basic play of DVDs and CDs is very simple, and should be possible for your average technocrat businessman.

      As a CD or audio DVD player, I found the PDV-LC10 to be excellent. In our tracking tests it managed the Verany cvalibrated dropouts very well, through track 35 (2.4mm) in the single dropouts, 42 with 1 tick only (2mm) in the narrow gauge ones, and in the double dropouts it played right through 49 (2 x 2.4mm). It had little trouble on track 2 of the CD CHECK disc, showing 3 or 4 errors on the DED Pro dropout counter, but on track 3 registered over 600 errors, with audible spitting noises.

      The random error test disc was well played to the 2-minute mark, where it locked, the errors shooting up over 600 in a second or two. In the partially transparent disc, the PDV-LC10 ticked noisily, and muted often on track 1, 2, and 3, managing 4 quite well.

      These results could be seen as a little contradictory, perhaps, but this is not uncommon in our experience of testing hundreds of digital players. The Verany tests indicate the ability to track and conceal very large dropouts; this player corrects errors that are in the digital stream coming out of the player, but inaudible through its own DAC. This was evident in the random error test, where they were largely corrected and concealed by the hundreds up to the 2-minute mark of play. The only area of concern is discs that are incompletely aluminized, this laser assembly quite sensitive to this problem, probably because of its variable focal lengths for CDs and DVDs.

      In listening, this player was outstanding with DVD audio discs like the Chesky Remembrances by Jon Faddis (CHDVD176), the big band sound beautifully portrayed through the player’s 24/96 DAC. I also listened carefully to our Chuck Israels CD, The Bellingham Sessions, Volume 1, and liked what I heard from this disc that I know better than just about anything else. It did seem just a little softer in the upper octaves, something I’d also noticed with our Pioneer Elite DVL-90, which also uses a 1-bit DAC. However, definition and solidity of deep bass were superb.

      As with the DVD-L10, this player offers audio performance that comes very close to what can be had in single box players at or near the $2000 price range, though there are some less expensive CD players appearing that definitely raise the bar, for example, the Audio Refinement reviewed in our last issue. And if you look at it in the context of portables, nothing out there in CD portable land even comes close (though most are less than 1/10th the price), so the Pioneer and Panasonic players remain unique in this respect.

      If you choose the Pioneer you’ll get a larger, but slightly softer picture than that of the Panasonic, but pretty much equal digital audio performance, but with 96 K digital audio out available for use with an outboard DAC like the MSB Link. If portable DVD is on your list for the milennium, or even before, have a look at and a listen to the PDV-LC10.

Andrew Marshall

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