Early last year we looked at the Kiss DP-500, one of the first DVD/DivX players which could stream video over Ethernet. The DP-558 though does this and a whole lot more. In fact Kiss has really thrown the kitchen sink at the DP-558. When first released it only featured an 80GB drive but this has now this has been upgraded to a 200GB drive. In addition there’s a TV tuner and component video with output and remarkably, input too.
Now, most TVs on this side of the pond don’t feature component video so luckily Kiss has included two RGB SCART connectors – one in, one out – S-Video and composite video in and out, stereo audio in and out and optical and coaxial S/PDIF output. It doesn’t have any digital video outputs, but as it doesn’t support HD content, this is not a major issue.
The only thing really missing is a built-in DVD writer, but you can transfer recorded content from the DP-558 to your PC and burn the content from there. You can of course copy content from your PC to the hard drive as well. This works in varying degrees depending on the file encoding but Kiss had done a pretty decent job by supporting the most common formats.
In terms of file compatibility it’s almost easier to mention what it doesn’t support first, namely WMV, but Kiss hoping to add it to the next version. What it can handle is DVD, VCD, SVCD, MPEG-2, DivX, XviD, MPEG-4, Audio CD, WMA, MP3, OGG files. It can also display JPEG pictures.
It’s slightly disappointing to find that the DP-558 records only to MPEG-2, although in its defence the files are stored on VOB format so they can be burned straight to DVD without any conversion. I would have preferred MPEG-4, not only because it takes up less space than MPEG-2, but also because the recording quality doesn’t justify the use of a low compression format.
There is of course a wide range of recording formats available, ranging from best quality at 8Mbit to super long play at 1.5Mbit. Personally I wouldn’t use anything below 4Mbit (standard quality) as content recorded at any setting below this resulted in visible compression artefacts. With a 200GB hard drive this is hardly going to be a problem though, as you can fit hours and hours of video to it. The DP-558 supports time shifting, but this was not as slick as a Sky Plus box by any means. There seems to be a lag before it starts recording the video and getting it to play and record at the same time was slightly confusing.