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Skyworth 1050P

Background | What's so "special" about it | Delivery | Pictures
Initial Impressions | RP91 vs Skyworth (mini-shootout)
Where to Buy it | More Skyworth reading | "Fixes"

What's so special about this player?

A good question indeed. What makes this player different if not better than the other progressive players?

In a nutshell, this player has an awesome de-interlacer powered by the Sage (Faroudja) FLI2200 chip which has DCDI circuit for video source deinterlacing. This is one of the very first and few implementations of this chip on a dvd player to date. All others, at least in the US, are based on the Genesis chipset.

The skyworth plays PAL and NTSC discs. It also doesn't hurt that it is macrovision-free, multiregion (although labeled as for Region 3), and can play DVD, VCD, Super VCD, CD, HDCD, CD-R, CD-R/W, MP3, possibly SACD, and CD with Karaoke. Audio features include Dolby Digital and DTS via the Zoran Vaddis IIIC chip.  It has interlaced component (YCrCb) and Svideo terminals as well as VGA (RGB) and progressive (YPrPb) component outs.

All this for only under $300! That's much less than the comparable non-Sage powered unit with a lot less features.

It is really interesting how a company in China was able get the chip as the engine for their player while the heavies are left behind.  For more on this, read up on the announcement at the Sage website.  

Sounds too good to be true doesn't it?  There must be a catch right?  Well, there a few things one needs to know about it. 

It does not support DVD-A which audio afficionados appreciate.

It lacks an aspect ratio feature that is weighted heavily in considering any dvd player especially by those whose sets lock into full mode when fed a 480p input.

There are initial reports also of Y/C delay on the progressive component out.

The same initial reports however overwhelming indicate that its deinterlacer delivers: that it provides an excellent image with no combing/jaggies and does not suffer from the chroma upsampling bug.

The team of experts at hometheatehifi just recently conducted their progressive player shootout including the Skyworth. It should be interesting how it fared compared to the heavies like Panasonic RP91, Castle 300, and the Panasonic H1000/2000. Here's the link to the last shootout in Dec 2000.

Another concern for some is that the vendor is in Hongkong, China.  Well, this only makes sense since it is made in China and is targeted only for Region 3. Anyone who is uncomfortable already with online shopping will probably be even more cautious dealing with an offshore company where the arm of the US legal system does not reach.

Since it would have to come from the other side of the globe, delivery and possible damage from transit is a valid concern. Although the package is ensured, having to deal with an offshore company in resolving claims could be a challenge.

Manufacturer support is also a major concern. Since the unit's reliability is unknown, obtaining manufacturer warranty or general service for this unit could be very interesting since it is after all not meant to be sold/used outside of Region 3.

But despite those risks/concerns, the skyworth deserves consideration for the features and performance it offers. It could easily qualify as one of the best bang-for-the-buck addition to one's home theater. And for some, the benefits far outweigh the risks.