2001, we reviewed Panasonic's DVD-RV31 entry-level single-disc DVD player and
gave it our recommendation as an "Excellent Value". For 2002,
Panasonic introduces the successor, the DVD-RV32. This 2002 model
carries over many good attributes of the DVD-RV31, adds a few more features
such as Windows Media Audio
(WMA) decoding, 4:3 TV zoom, and a higher-sampling
24-bit/192 kHz audio digital-to-analog
converter (DAC), quick replay, sleep
timer, and carries a lower price. At $150, the DVD-RV32 is $30 less
than last year's model.
Carried over from last year's
DVD-RV31 are CD-R and
CD-RW playback compatibility,
the popular MP3 format, easy access front-panel buttons for the
"A-B-C-D" features of Panasonic DVD players ("A" for Advanced
Virtual Surround Sound, "B" for Bass Plus,
"C" for Cinema Mode, and "D"
for Dialogue Enhancer), a convenient
front-panel shuttle dial for fast scan and slow motion operations, a disc stabilizer
feature for reading slightly warped discs, and component video
output for the best possible picture. To match the looks of your current
set-up or furnishings, this model is available in either a black or silver
See pictures of this model in our photo
Key Features - Does it have the features I
The DVD-RV32 comes with just about all the features you could expect
from an entry-level DVD player:
single-disc DVD player: plays back DVD-Video, DVD-R, video
CD, CD-R, CD-RW media
and WMA decoding: record your favorite music in MP3
and/or WMA file formats on CD-R and CD-RWs
for hours of non-stop music entertainment
program play, random play, repeat play, A-B repeat
play, and resume play
Dolby Digital and
DTS output (via optical digital
output): for outboard decoding by
an A/V receiver for 5.1-channel home theater surround
dynamic range compression: makes the dynamic range between
loud and soft sounds narrower which is more suitable for low volume playback (for
parental lock-out feature: to prevent children from
viewing DVDs with certain MPAA ratings (e.g., PG-13, R, etc.)
Then throw in these features, which distinguish this model
from its peers:
Advanced Virtual Surround Sound
(AVSS): a virtual surround sound feature using just a pair of stereo speakers.
Bass Plus: allows an active subwoofer
to be connected directly to the DVD-RV32 without using a full blown 5.1-channel surround sound
receiver and speaker system.
Cinema Mode: video
equalization with "normal" or "cinema" viewing modes.
The "cinema" mode supposedly enhances shadow detail in dark scenes.
boosts the dialogue audio signal (center channel information in a Dolby Digital
encoded DVD) so that the dialogue can be heard
easier over the rest of the soundtrack.
One-Touch Cinema Memory:
recall your presets for AVSS, Bass Plus, Cinema Mode, and Dialogue
Enhancer with just one touch
WMA decoding: record your favorite
music in WMA (Windows Media Audio) file format on CD-R and
for hours of non-stop music entertainment.
4:3 TV zoom: this picture
zoom feature enlarges the letterbox format picture to get rid of
the black bars at the top and bottom of your TV screen. Just like
"full screen" DVD version of widescreen movies, you lose about
33% of the picture area due to cropping of the sides, but at least you
will no longer have those black bars that can be annoying to some
viewers. This works well for DVD-Videos with 1.85:1 aspect ratio,
but the 2.35 aspect ratio still would have some black bars.
24-bit/192 kHz audio DAC: an audio
digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that samples at 192 kHz for double
sampling for improved sound quality.
disc stabilizer system: a feature that makes
playback of slightly warped discs possible. Without this feature,
slight warped discs would be difficult or impossible to read. It's
a nice feature if you plan to rent a lot of DVDs.
smooth slow motion and fast scan: one of the
the industry, with five speeds each in forward and reverse modes.
audio during search capability: selects whether you
want to hear audio during scan searches.
sleep timer: set the
DVD player to turn off after 60/90/120 minutes or 5 minutes after
playback is completed.
playback the last 8 seconds in case you
missed some dialog.
Video Features & Performance - How
good is the picture?
Picture Quality. The picture
quality is marvelous on my 27" Sony direct-view TV, using the S-video
connection. The colors are accurate and saturated. Skin
tones are good and realistic. Watching Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, we verified that shadow details are
well rendered. We then connected the DVD-RV32 to my 61" Sony rear projection TV (with conventional 4:3
aspect ratio). Details that were not resolved by the 27" TV are revealed with
startling clarity on the 61" rear projection set. In
addition to the added visual details, we can see the occasional 4:3 aspect ratio down-conversion
picture artifacts. For example, at the very beginning of Chapter 11
of "Meet Joe Black", the diagonal ceiling supports have a "staircase"
jagged edge look to them and the black and white floor tiles
seem to be pixelated. As the camera continues to pan down from the
ceiling, the black and white tiles seem to undulate. Compared to last
year's DVD-RV31, the DVD-RV32 showed some improvement in this area. On the 27" TV, these
down-conversion and motion artifacts are hardly visible.
another test, we watched for the same effect in Men In Black Chapter 8
(at time counter 29:20), when Agents Jay and Kay walk down the hall and the white
circular light fixtures on the ceiling moves down the screen behind them as
they walk forward. The "staircase" jagged edge effect
around the outline of the light fixtures are much smoother. So the performance of 4:3 aspect ratio down-conversion
processing varies, depending on the material. Though we didn't test
the DVD-RV32 with a widescreen 16x9
aspect ratio TV, I expect the picture quality to be much better when
widescreen (i.e., "enhanced for 16x9 TVs") DVDs. Certainly on a widescreen TV, you wouldn't
expect to see
any of these 4:3 aspect ratio down-conversion
Chroma Upsampling Error. To check to see if the
DVD-RV32 suffers from the chroma
upsampling error, we put the Toy
Story and Fifth
Element (Superbit) DVDs
in and watched for the tell-tale signs. Nothing. We are happy to
report that the DVD-RV32's MPEG2 decoder is free of this bug. For more
information about this subject, visit this
Editor's Note: With respect to 4:3 aspect ratio
down-conversion artifacts, the Sony DVD players tend to fare better due to
their 4-tap video filtering feature. Some reviewers don't like the soft
picture quality of the 4-tap filter, but I find it much more pleasing when
using a large 4:3 aspect ratio TV. Again, this is only an issue when
viewing an anamorphic widescreen DVD with a very large TV (40" or
larger). For TVs less than 40", these artifacts are less likely
to be an issue.
Slow Motion, Fast Scan, and Frame-by-Frame Advance. Panasonic DVD
players have one of the smoother slow motion and fast scan picture in the
industry. The picture remains clear and steady during both
operations. This makes using the slow motion and fast scan features
pleasurable. Fast scan has
five speeds in either forward or reverse, up to 200x. Slow motion is available
in five speed increments as well, in both forward and reverse. You can also advance
the picture frame-by-frame by
repeatedly pressing the pause button.
Video Processing. As with all Panasonic DVD
"Cinema Mode" video equalization processing can be set to
"normal" or "cinema". Though Panasonic touts the
"cinema" mode for its more film-like look and better shadow detail
when viewing movies, I actually prefer to use
the "normal" setting for all types of DVDs, movies or otherwise.
Audio Features & Performance - How
good does it sound?
DVD Multi-Channel Playback. For DVD playback, we
connected the DVD-RV32 to our Sony STR-V444ES receiver using the Toslink
optical digital audio connection. Multi-channel movie soundtracks,
both Dolby Digital and DTS, were reproduced with amazing clarity and
enveloped us in a
seamless sound field. As with last year's DVD-RV31, we were pleased with the
surround sound performance of the DVD-RV32.
DVD Stereo Playback. If you don't have a
multi-channel surround sound set up, you can use the AVSS
feature with your stereo system or your TV's stereo speakers. This
feature simulates the effects of a surround sound system with just a pair of
stereo speakers. If you're using your TV's stereo speakers, just make sure you turn off the TV's own simulated
or enhanced stereo sound field feature. AVSS makes the sound field
much wider than just regular stereo. It's a pretty nice effect if you
don't have a real surround sound system, though it does not come close to
having a real multi-channel surround sound system.
Audio CD Reproduction. For music reproduction, we
tried both the stereo analog connection and the optical digital audio
connection to our receiver, and with both types of connections the sound was
really good. The
sound has good tonal qualities and is well-balanced with deep bass
extension. Imaging is good. Overall, I was quite pleased with the
audio quality of the DVD-RV32. It serves well as a single-disc CD
CD-R, CD-RW with MP3 and WMA files. On top of
everything we had just mentioned, the DVD-RV32 is one of the new DVD players to feature CD-R and
compatibility as well as MP3 decoding (a lossy, compressed audio
format made popular by CD-R drives and the internet). Put in a CD-R or
CD-RW with MP3
files, and the unit plays back those music titles without issue or problem.
New for this year, the DVD-RV32 adds a graphical user interface (GUI) for MP3
and WMA files. This GUI goes a long way in making MP3 and WMA playback
Disc Performance - How well does it handle the discs?
The DVD-RV32 performs quite nicely.
Additionally, the disc stabilizer system is supposed to make slightly warped discs
easier to read. This feature should come in handy if you rent a lot of
DVDs, as rental discs can be badly handled. Even discs with rental
clamping area stickers (i.e., bar code stickers) are mostly playable (see picture).
Sometimes these stickers causes some DVD players to lose grip of the disc,
resulting in difficulty with play back (dropouts) and even loss of play back
capability. Other times, the stickers can be applied unevenly, throwing
the disc's balance off. The DVD-RV32's disc stabilizer feature handles
these cases with little difficulty. It certainly does much better than
my aging Sony DVP-S7700 DVD player. Kudos to Panasonic.
Navigation. When navigating through the various DVD
menus, the DVD-RV32 is fairly responsive. It's not as fast as some of
the top performing and higher-end DVD players, but the response times are
average to above average for DVD players in this price category. This makes
navigating through the various DVD menus a quick and efficient process.
Layer Switch. In
our layer switch tests, this model exhibits good performance in switching
between layers of a dual-layered
DVD disc. Most layer switches are noticeable to some extent in most DVD
players. Like many DVD players, the picture is momentarily paused for about a
split second as the
DVD-RV32's laser automatically re-focuses on the second layer.
DVD Angle Change. Using the scene deconstruction
featurette in the bonus features section of the "Men In Black"
Collector's Edition DVD, we were able to verify that the DVD angle change
feature performs smoothly and with a lag time of less than one second from
the time we selected a new angle to the time that new angle is displayed.
This is about average for DVD players in the price range.
Ease of Use - Is it easy to set-up & use
The DVD-RV32 is very easy to use. Simple as that. The operating
instructions are well-written with clear and helpful diagrams. (To get
the most of this unit, do read the user manual.) Most common
settings have reasonable default factory values, making the set-up process quick and
painless for most consumers.
Initial Set Up. For those with the
conventional 4:3 aspect ratio TVs, you can skip the first-time set-up menus
altogether due to very logical default settings. If you have a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio TV or if you
want to re-configure the options, simply press the
"Setup" button on the remote control and the graphical, icon-based menu helps guide
you through the configuration of of the DVD player. Settings such as TV aspect ratio, parental lock setting, desired audio track setting, the default
subtitle selection, menu language selection can be set using this menu. Once you've
completed this initial configuration, you shouldn't
have to do it again.
Everyday Use. In everyday use, you can change most settings
and navigate directly
using the dedicated buttons on the remote control. As an alternative to using
the dedicated buttons on the remote, you can bring up the icon-based on-screen
display by pressing the "Display"
button, view the status of various settings, and change them using the
cursor (e.g., up/down and right/left) control buttons. Yet another option is to use the front-panel
buttons. In any case, the method is simple and straightforward, thanks to the
intuitive icons and user-friendly on-screen menu system.
The front panel sports a fair number of buttons (e.g., play, pause, stop, skip/search,
Advanced Virtual Surround Sound (AVSS), Bass Plus, Cinema Mode, and Dialogue
Enhancer) making it easier to operate the unit without
the remote. The shuttle dial button can be used to perform fast scan
searches easily. The more you turn the knob in either direction, the
faster the scan search is performed in that direction. The circular
knob is spring loaded so that the dial returns to its center and neutral
position when you let go, and playback resumes at normal speed. Pretty
The remote control is medium in size and has logical
button groupings. The remote's frequently-used disc transport buttons (e.g.,
play, stop, pause) and menu navigation buttons (e.g., arrow and enter
buttons) are located on the upper half of the remote. Except for the cursor control and
enter buttons, many of the buttons are too small and too tightly packed together
for comfortable operation. In this respect, the DVD-RV32's remote
control is a step down from last year's DVD-RV31. Additionally, the buttons are marked with only one color, white.
The only exception is the power button which is marked in red. Some competitive models' remote controls
use multi color-coded buttons to clearly designate different groupings of
buttons which enhances readability. Lastly, the remote control can't be used to control other
audio or video components (such as a receiver or TV, Panasonic or
otherwise). While it's not the worst remote that I've encountered,
Panasonic could have done a better job.
Video & Audio Outputs - Does it have all the
outputs I need?
The DVD-RV32 comes with just about all the different outputs you could need:
component video output: for the best picture
quality, use these if your TV has
component video inputs.
S-video output: your second choice for a good video
composite video output: use this if your TV does not
have any of the above types of video inputs.
audio output (Toslink): use this to connect the DVD-RV32 to an A/V receiver
with Dolby Digital and/or DTS decoding.
stereo audio analog output: use this to connect to
your TV or Dolby Pro-Logic surround sound receiver.
subwoofer output: an RCA output used to connecting an active subwoofer
directly from this DVD player.
Though it lacks a coaxial digital audio
output, you should
be able to use the optical digital audio output instead.
Build Quality - How well is it made?
The build quality appears to be about average for a
product in this price range. The unit comes with a one year parts and
90-day labor warrantee, which is comparable to other models in this price range.
Competitive Models & Value - How does this model
Panasonic did a good job of packing a rich set of features
and solid performance into this $150 DVD player. And while it's some $30
cheaper than last year's model, the competition has gotten quite stiff in the
entry-level DVD player market. But even in that light, we still think
the DVD-RV32 is a very good buy in terms of value. It's not quite the
"excellent value" the DVD-RV31 earned in its day, but DVD-RV32 seems
to be holding its own quite well. It's amazing how much prices have come
down for DVD players since its May 1997 introduction. Compared to its
brand-name competitors (e.g., Sony
Toshiba SD2800, Pioneer DV-353), the Panasonic DVD-RV32 seems to be
the most well-rounded player, offering a rich set of features and rock-solid
performance. For example, it's the only one with WMA
decoding. Check out the differences using our DVD
player comparison chart for yourself here. At only $150, we don't think that buying a no-name or
small-brand DVD player is necessarily a better deal.
Before you decide to go with the Panasonic DVD-RV32, there are others
features to consider that the DVD-RV32 doesn't have, in case these features
are important to you:
Coaxial digital audio
output: though you can use the optical digital
audio output, if you still insist on the coaxial connection, consider
the Sony DVP-NS315,
Toshiba SD2800, Pioneer DV-353, and
JVC XV-S300 models.
Except for the Sony (which only has the coaxial digital output), these
other models have both types of digital audio
Headphone jack: very few entry-level and mid-range DVD
players come with a headphone jack these days. A couple of years
ago when manufacturers started producing cheaper and cheaper DVD
players, they did away with this feature as a cost savings. As a
result, you'll have to fork out more money for a more expensive model if
you need this feature.
As a final note, if you want
the convenience of a 5-disc DVD/CD carousel changer, take a look at the Panasonic
It has the same features as the DVD-RV32, but adds the convenience of a
5-disc carousel changer so you can put in 5 DVDs and audio CDs (in any
combination), for only about $30 more ($180 average retail). Even if you
don't go with the DVD-RV32, pick a brand-name model.
Since the Panasonic DVD-RV32 delivers a winning combination of features, performance, and
value, we are giving the Panasonic
DVD-RV32 my emphatic nod of
approval and putting it on our list of
recommended DVD players as a DVD player with "good value".
Availability & Price - Where
can I buy this model & for how much?
This model is available in either a black
(DVD-RV32K) or silver (DVD-RV32S) chassis, and can be
bought just about anywhere for about $150. If you buy online, please
consider supporting this site by starting here and clicking through one of our
@ BestBuy.com (black) - after $20.00 mail-in
rebate, rebate expires 3/31
@ JandR.com (black or silver) - after $20.00 mail-in
rebate, rebate expires 3/31
@ Amazon.com (black) - after $20.00 mail-in
rebate, rebate expires 3/31
Summary of Features: single-disc DVD player; plays
DVD-Video, DVD-R, audio CD, video CD, CD-R, CD-RW, MP3 (does not support ID3
tags) and WMA decoding; Dolby Digital and DTS
output; virtual surround sound mode; dialogue enhancer; 10-bit/27 MHz video
DAC; Cinema mode (for
enhancing shadow detail); black level mode (when using component video
outputs), 4:3 TV zoom, fast scan (forward and reverse); slow motion (forward and
reverse); resume play, repeat play, A-B repeat play, quick replay, random play, and
program play modes; 24-bit/192 kHz audio DAC; dynamic range compression; PCM down conversion; audio
during search; parental lock-out feature; sleep timer; interlaced video via component
video, S-video, and composite video outputs; optical digital audio output;
stereo analog audio output; (active) subwoofer output.
Specifications: frequency response 4 Hz - 22 kHz
(48 kHz sampling) and 4 Hz - 44 kHz (96 kHz sampling) for DVD PCM audio, for
CD audio 4 Hz - 20 kHz; signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio 115 dB for CD audio; dynamic range
102 dB for DVD with PCM audio, 98 dB
for CD audio; total harmonic distortion (THD) 0.0025% for CD audio; power
consumption 14 Watts (2 Watts standby mode); dimensions 16 15/16" (W) x
9 3/4" (D) x 2 15/16" (H); weight 5.31 pounds; warrantee one year
parts, 90-day labor; made in China.
Contact Information: Panasonic Consumer Electronics
Company, One Panasonic Way, Secaucus, NJ 07094. Call toll-free
1-800-211-PANA (7262). Panasonic DVD web site.
Associated equipment used in evaluation: Sony
KP-61V45 61" rear projection TV (4:3 screen aspect ratio), Sony KV-27V66
27" TV (4:3 screen aspect ratio), Sony
STR-V444ES A/V receiver, four B&W CDM 9NTs as left/right main speakers
and left/right surrounds, B&W CDM CNT center channel speaker, Monster Cable M-series S-Video cable MSV-500, Monster
Cable Interlink LightSpeed 100 (Toslink) optical cable, Monster Cable
Original speaker wires with Monster Cable twist-on gold-plated banana plug
connectors, Lovan Sovereign T HiFi audio
rack, and Sony MDR-V600 studio monitor headphones. Our home theater equipment was calibrated
with the Video
DVD movies and audio CDs used in testing: Gladiator
DVD, Mission: Impossible 2
DVD, Men In Black DVD, Meet Joe
Black DVD, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace soundtrack
CD, Celine Dion's "The Colour of My Love"
"Destiny" CD, and Music
from the Motion Picture Titanic CD.
Review originally posted on July 2,
2002. Last updated February 2, 2003.
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