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LG DVX440 DVD Player
If you're looking for a cheap ‘n' cheerful DVD player for yours or the kids' bedroom then you're spoilt for choice. There are shedloads of budget players for sale in supermarkets, online and on the high street at rock-bottom prices, many of which are made by well-known, reputable brands - like this one from LG.
But just because they're cheap, it doesn't mean you should just blindly bung one in the trolley - budget decks are more likely to deliver dodgy picture quality or lack the features and connections you're looking for, which is why it's still worth doing your homework before trading in those loyalty card points.
Looks-wise the DVX440 has all the hallmarks of a budget player, such as the barren button count on the fascia, the miniscule five-digit display panel and its ridiculously slim height (36mm). But despite this, the DVX440 remains an utterly likeable and good-looking player, thanks to the use of gloss-black styling and an eye-catching silver ring on the right that encases the playback controls. If this deck is destined for the living room, then its looks certainly won't show you up when visitors come calling.
Around the back, the socketry panel is more sparsely populated than a Gary Glitter comeback gig. Although we've come to expect measly connections from budget players, surely there's no excuse for leaving out a SCART output on a deck that's destined for the bedroom, where TVs generally aren't as cutting-edge as bigger ‘living room' sets. We can understand ditching it in favour of an HDMI port, for example, but you don't get one of those either.
This socketry slip-up could present problems when hooking the player up to a TV. Your options are limited to composite video, which invariably delivers poor picture quality, or progressive scan-capable component output, which you're less likely to find on a small-screen TV than a SCART input.
You're supposed to use a composite/analogue stereo-to-SCART adapter cable, but with this method you have to settle for composite picture quality as opposed to the RGB signals that would have been available from a proper SCART output.
And unless you're connecting the player's coaxial digital audio output to a home cinema system (which would make the deck's limited video outputs even more galling) then you'll have to connect its stereo audio output to your TV, as neither connection carries sound. Whichever way you look at it, this is more hassle than you should expect from a budget DVD deck.
Still, solve that dilemma and you can start digging into the deck's features, which are limited but acceptable for the money. The highlight is DivX playback, which the LG supports up to version 6 and you can also watch video-on-demand content with the code in the setup menu. The DVX440 will happily spin MP3, WMA and JPEGs, which is pretty much taken for granted now but at thirty quid nothing is guaranteed.
However, all of these formats have to be played back from CD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW or DVD-R/-RW as there's no USB port on this player. If you want one, opt for the slightly pricier DVX450 or DVX452.
The deck outputs Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams from the digital audio output and will decode the former into PCM or two-channel analogue, but not the latter.