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Philips 3900SA (DivX, S/VCD, XVid, DVD, CD, MP3) My First Impression

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by Paul O, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Hi all,

    Just purchased one of these all in one babys and thought I'd post my thoughts incase anyone is interested!

    It cost £250 from Comet, but its for sale for £202 on the web if you shop around. Interestingly, when I asked Comet if they match web prices they instantly said "Nope, we don't even match our own website prices". I thought this rather strange as they didn't even know what I was buying. I could have been looking at a 5 grand Plasma TV, and had seen it £50 cheaper on the web - surely they would have wanted my business? :suicide: As it happens I wasn't so on with the story......


    I decided on this box due to moving from a large house into a one-bed flat (finally on the property ladder!!). My existing large speaker setup was way over-the-top so decided on a little machine instead.

    The set comes with all 5 satellite speakers and the sub, and is DTS and Dolby Digital compatable. It also has Dolby Pro-Logic 2, which is nice. As someone who is upgrading from a Pro-Logic setup, the sound difference came as quite a shock to me! It also comes with an FM/MW RDS tuner.

    Soundwise, for films, I think it is just fantastic - it has a range of DSP modes also, Concert, Digital, Classic, Jazz etc which alter the sound accordingly. As I know have neighbours in close-quarters, the less basey of these is always selected - but it still packs a punch. For evenings viewing, it has a night-mode for Dolby Digital, which reduces the thump in the bass. Most excellent.

    For musical CD audio, it is definately not as good as an amp and "real" speaker combo, the bass sounds far too directional and boomey. For occasional use, or for low volumes, its more than adequate though.

    Visually, well, I've gone from a 42" RP screen to an old 21" until I can afford an LCD panel, so can't really comment. Sorry!

    However, it has so far played everything which I have thrown at it, which may be of interested to some people out there. Here is what I have tried;

    DVD
    CD
    VCD (and on CD-Rs)
    S-VCD (and on CD-Rs)
    MP3 (on both CD AND DVD!!)
    DivX movies (on both CD and DVD)
    XVid movies (on both CD and DVD)
    It also plays photo CDs and JPEGs on CDs (with MP3 audio!), but I haven't tried this one.

    I use DivX quite a lot, because I haven't got the room in my lounge for all the DVDs any more, so I put my less-used films onto DivX discs and then store the DVDs in boxes. This means I can 5ish movies on 1 DVD and the Philips gives a nice menu to chose which one I want.

    Interestingly, you can also copy all of your S/VCD MPEG files straight onto a CD (don't require all the rest of convertion or config files to go with it), and these play straight off as well.

    And you can mix and match with MPEGs and AVI files - all appear in the menu and play OK!

    I'm rather impressed with this little machine as it has saved me a lot of headaches (and shelf space!). I would recommend it, particularly if you are interested in .avi format.

    :thumbsup:

    Cheers!

    Paul
     
  2. mi11er

    mi11er
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    what about PC Gaming? Have U tried this? :D
     
  3. Paul O

    Paul O
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    I have just tried installing a copy of Doom, but sadly the machine just comes up with "Bad disc".

    I also can't find the joypad port so am assuming it doesn't work.

    Unless its hooked up into the subwoofer somehow?? hehehe

    :laugh: :cool:
     
  4. mi11er

    mi11er
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    How did U connect 3900SA to your sound card - via 'digital in'?
    I'm interested and will buy it for home if you're saying it provides a solid gaming experince. My local dealers also tell me a firmware upgrade is comming very soon for the bulgarian subtitles - yes! :smashin:
     
  5. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Oops! Have to admit, I thought that your first remark was a sarcastic one, hence my rather odd reply! :blush: :oops:

    In seriousness, I haven't tried any games through the machine yet. Philips uses Coax connections, which are no good for the PS2 without an adapter, but may be of use to those who have digital out on the PC sound card.

    Failing that, you can connect anything up using the standard Phono connections (it has an aux socket), and it will play everything in Pro-Logic II, or Stereo if you prefer.

    I'm pretty sure that the digital in option will work a treat though if you have an appriopriately configured PC. :smashin:

    Cheers,
     
  6. mi11er

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    10x Paul; I'm still deciding 3900SA or Samsung HT-DS400...
    :confused:

    Just saw sunnyheaven's thread, and he is talkig for some problems with his set. What would be your answers?
     
  7. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Hi there!

    Apologies for the the delay replying, just back from a nice weekend away :clap:

    In response to the two points;

    Regarding 'plops' in the sound - It does make a sound, but I have to admit I hadn't noticed it until I checked for it a minute ago. Personally, I wouldn't regard this as an intrusion.
    To best describe it, it sounds as though sound is being momentarily cut from the speakers whilst it accesses the next track. Similarly when you press Pause, or power off. Just a small noise. I am quite sure if you demo one of these in a shop (Comet has them in if you want to try one), then put your head next to a speaker when you turn it off, and decide whether you think the noise is bad.

    I think its personal taste, but I don't find it intrusive.


    I have tried Radio 1, and compared with CD tracks from Bruce Springsteen, Britney and that aweful Milkshake song (cos its basey), and the bass appears to be constant when switching between CD and Radio 1. Neither sounds noticably more powerful in my opinion.

    The set is certainly a basey beast as standard, so I have the Classic option set most of the time (the one with the less bass on). The equaliser is remembered accross both FM and the CD. i.e., if you have Classic selected, it will be Classic on both the FM and CD - it won't revert back to what you last chose specifically for that function.

    My only thought, a longshot, is that NightMode may be selected for Dolby Digital tracks? This makes the bass noticably less on compatable DVDs, so when switching to FM, it could be reverting back to superloud standard?

    Hope this helps. I would say if your thinking of a couple of different machines, best to audition.

    However, if you have any more queries, by all means let me know and I'll try and answer for you!! :cool:

    Cheers!
     
  8. mi11er

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    Thanks for the reply,
    Will ask for demonstration for sure, and still considering the alternative Samsung HT-DS400 at same price in my town. (It has similar fetures 5*60W + 100 W Sub, DD, PRO LGIC II AND DTS, DIVX DTSC COMPATIBLE, DVD/DVD AUDIO/DVD-R/RW,CD/CD-R/RW/MP3,WMA/JPEG, FM/AM RDS TUNER). Unfortunately I don't have the money for Jamo DVR-50. :(
    Samsung does not sound very good to me particularly for home cinema, but I've read a few positive reviews for this model...
    I'm affraid this unwanted effect with Philips 3900SA varies in range with different devices.
    I will appreciate any advices to help for my decision? cos giving back will not be possible :(
     
  9. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Multiregion hack for this player;

    OPEN TRAY
    PRESS 9 9 9 9 0
    PRESS PLAY


    Heres the link if you want to read my thread.

    Cheers,

    Paul.
    __________________
     
  10. sunnyheaven

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    Hi,

    as you said, that you don't hear only a very gentle plop when jumping to the next title pressing 'pause', I bought a 2nd LX3900SA and I found that it is much better on this 2nd sample. But it's still disturbing. As it seems it is different from sample to sample. On the Philips Hotline, they say, it is not known (I don't believe). The 2nd problem (bass on radio much louder than on CD) is still available.
    The worse device will go back to the trader...

    I don't understand, why Philips is not able to solve such easy problems. They told me, that they don't plan to offer a firmware update.

    Bye, sunnyheaven
     
  11. nwpsys

    nwpsys
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    @Paul O

    Hope you are still watching this thread as I am about to recommend this unit to my girlfriend, but just wonder if I can run a couple of questions past you.

    1) The spec says it supports MP3 bitrate at 32,56,64,96,128,256 and VBR. All my MP3s are encoded at 192. I find it hard to believe it won't play these, but have you tried it by any chance ?

    2) It mentions "resume" as a DVD feature. I am guessing this means, if you stop playback and the unit goes to standby, it remembers where it was in the film when you power things on again. Is this right ? Also, is the same feature available in MPEG4 playback ??

    3) Do you happen to know the MPEG4 chipset the unit is based on ?

    Hope you ( or anyone else looking in ) can help.

    Cheers,

    nwpsys
     
  12. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Hi, yep I'm still watching! :thumbsup:

    I have just tried a 192 MP3, and it plays fine from both a DVD and a CD :smashin:

    Yes, you are correct about resume. This feature doen't work on MPEG4 unfortunately, so if you stop watching you have to fast-forward from the start to where you were. However, it does fast forward at speeds up to 32x so it doesn't take long. Pause works on MPEG4 though.

    Sorry, I don't know what its based on. I have tried several DivX and Xvid files though, and these all have played very nicely so far. You can download the manual from the Philips website, so might be worth having a look through that for some clues?

    Hope this helps! Any questions, let me know.
     
  13. nwpsys

    nwpsys
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    Thanks, Paul O. Most useful reply.

    I will grab a copy of the manual from Philips in a mo, and as usual, just after I submitted my previous post, I thought of something else I wanted to ask. :blush:

    How long are the cables to the rear speakers ? I imagine they are proprietry connections that wouldn't be easy to extend ??

    nwpsys
     
  14. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Not sure exactly - very long! A whole handful of cable, so I'd guess at about 5 meters or more.
    The cables are actually pretty easy to extend (I have done it). They are locked into the back of the speakers, but the other end has a fancy clip that connects into the stereo. You can remove the clip and extend from that end.
    I've got cable already wired under my carpet. So I wired this up to the clip and added a connector to join the underfloor wire to the speaker wire from the other side of the room. :smashin:

    Hope this helps!
     
  15. nwpsys

    nwpsys
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    Nice :thumbsup:

    Thanks for all your help, and at £165 online at eBuyer and Comet, seems like a good deal at the moment.

    Also been looking at the next model up from Philips, but for the planned usage, I can't really justify the extra expense.

    nwpsys
     
  16. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Wow - Jeez!! They dropped the price of that pretty sharpish! I've only had it 3 months and its lost nearly £90.

    I think I'll be more cautious with my Comet buying in future!! :eek:
     
  17. nwpsys

    nwpsys
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    Back again :hiya:

    I feel I should know the answer to this but thought I should probably check.

    If I want to get the sound from a TV programme out through the 5 speakers, will a SCART connection be sufficient, or will I need to connect the AUX Audio In on the Philips to the audio out on the TV via phono cables ?

    I can't remember if a SCART is a two way cable, or whether it just feeds signal to the TV :blush:

    Ta,

    nwpsys
     
  18. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Hiya,

    The scart cable can be two-way, but it depends on the hardware, and the wiring of the cable!

    In the case of this machine, I believe you can use either the Scart or the Phono cables. The Scart connection is selectable as "TV" and the phonos via "Aux".

    The TV (scart) setting should play whatever is being displayed on the TV through the Philips speakers in Dolby PLII or stereo.

    Hope this helps! :thumbsup:
     
  19. lynx

    lynx
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    I wouldn't darken their door. :mad:
     
  20. nwpsys

    nwpsys
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    Thanks, Paul O. Feeling pretty confident now, and had a listen to one in Comet yesterday and it sounds quite good ( obviously no chance of hooking it to a TV or anything sensible like that ) :thumbsdow

    Turns out we will probably be sending the TV sound direct from an optical out on a Freeview box, so won't matter too much about SCART anyway.

    Cheers m8. Off to eBuyer to make a purchase imminently.

    nwpsys :)
     
  21. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Excellent, I hope you like it as much as I do!

    One word of warning though, this kit only has coax digital input, not Optical. Check your connections are the same on your freeview box. I imagine it will be, as I think Coax is probably cheaper to make than optical!:smashin:

    Also - something which I have noticed today, is that very occasionally the machine won't send the audio out on a Divx/Xvid track. To fix this, switch to radio then back to the CD and it works fine. Hurrah :clap: . Might Just be a 'feature' with my particuilar unit though.

    Cheers,

    Paul.
     
  22. nwpsys

    nwpsys
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    Crikey - thanks for the heads up on the digital connection. I think the Freeview box I had in mind was Optical out, so I need to double check.

    I downloaded the Philips manual a while back, and seeing "digital-in" I assumed TOS :nono:

    Perhaps there might be a converter from optical to coax. Will have to go search in the cabling forum.

    Cheers,

    nwpsys
     
  23. Paul O

    Paul O
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    No problem! I think you can buy adapters but there not cheap. I think Keane Electronics sell them.
     
  24. Lest49

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    Hi Folks, I'm thinking of getting the LX3900SA but I'd like to know whether it has a cooling fan in the case. Does anybody know?
    Thanks
     
  25. Paul O

    Paul O
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    Hi LMolland,

    I'm not sure but I think it has got one, next to the power point on the machine. I can feel a small amount of air coming out of the back (unless this is to do with the power transformer?).

    Either way it is very very quiet - so much that I had to stick my head on it in order to tell! :blush:

    There are vents on the top of the machine - quite a few - though so you'll need to give it plenty of room to 'breathe' if that is why your curious?

    Hope this helps,

    Paul.
     
  26. Ublis

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    "Remove" as in cut the wire and join it to the extension wire, or does the connector clip off the original wire and onto the extension?
     
  27. Paul O

    Paul O
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    The extension wire on mine is removable from the clip that connects to the unit, but not the speaker end. I then put the exension wire into the clip, and use block-connectors to join the two together at the other side of the room.

    The original Philips speaker wire can then be put back into the original block in the future if so desired. No cutting necessary.

    Hope this helps! :smashin:

    Paul.
     
  28. ste_d73

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    Thanks for the review.......any idea if this model offers PAL progressive pictures??
     
  29. Ublis

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    Yes, thanks. I've bought it :). Turns out I don't even need to remove the clip, because the wire to the rear speakers is sufficiently long - roughly 15 meters. I was pleasantly surprized by that, after years of experience with manufacturers including small bits of wire.

    The things I don't like this far:

    1. The layout of the remote - and this is easily the worst thing about it. The important buttons are hard to distinguish in the dark because they are all very much alike. I tend to press arrow down instead of OK, Play instead of arrow down. Might get used to it in due time, but the button layout is easily the worst I've encountered in the past 3 years or so on new audio/video equipment. Even with the light on I make mistakes with the buttons, because Philips has not yet found out how to use different colors for different buttons. All the important buttons are sort-of ovals of similar size with white arrows on a black background pointing left, right, up or down and all of them are clustered in the same space. None of the buttons has a relief (like the F and J keys on many keyboards) to help you position your finger.
    In fact, I thought they stopped making this kind of crappy remotes back in the nineties. I loathe its layout.

    2. No clock -> no alarm. I already knew this before buying it, but it's too bad the unit can't be used to replace a stereo which also works as alarm clock.

    3. No option to play all sub-folders in MP3 mode (at least, I haven't found it yet).

    4. 20 channels of FM radio is enough, but because my cable provides 40+, I had to do a manual search and store, because auto-search only picked up the first 20 of which I only found 10 interesting. Why they limited it to 20 is beyond me.
    Also it doesn't have channel position swap like video equipment usually has (so that if you move station B from position 2 to position 1, position 2 is occupied by whatever was on 1 before - you get station B on two spots instead). I suppose this is a generic issue with audio equipment, but still...

    5. Display is sort of small. Again, a generic problem with DVD players.

    What I do like:

    1. Plays everything I put in it - not a lot until now, but I did try DVD, MP3-CD, DivX 3.11, tuner, VCR, JPEG CD.

    2. Feels solid. The speakers have a nice weight to them, the volume knob offers the right amount of resistance, the RC is cumfy (despite horrible usability design), the tray doesn't rattle.

    3. Can produce lots of noise. I don't know how hard it can go, because I started feeling uncomfortable turning it even louder at some point. Subwoofer really sets things trembling, I have to keep it in a low-bass setting to get it to normal levels.

    4. Nice design. IMO it's easily the best looking set I've seen in its price range.

    5. Philips didn't go on the pointless but annoying savings tour: cables have good length, SCART cable is included in the box. The FM antenna doesn't look very convincing, but since I have cable, I didn't try how well it works.
     
  30. penguin57

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    This may be a silly question but if i plugged my xbox into the digital in socket would the sound automatically play through the speakers or would i need to turn on the player and select the audio to be played each time?
     

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