Ever heard of Jaton before? You are probably not alone. Their name may sound strange, but they are based out of Silicon Valley in California, even though they were started in Taiwan. Other than their unique name they also make a hard to find region free DVD player. Now do I have your attention?
What is Region Free?
You may not be aware, but a DVD purchased in the US will not play on a regular DVD player in Europe or Asia and vice versa. So are you wondering why there is not one DVD standard? There are two main reasons. The television system used in America and Canada is called NTSC. Western Europe and Australia use a system called PAL, and Eastern Europe and France use SECAM. Second, the Hollywood Film Industry uses region encoding to control when DVDs are released to each market, which in-turn increases profits from DVD sales.
Should I want a region free DVD player?
If you only plan to watch DVDs from one region, then there is no need to purchase this product. There are many lower priced, brand name models of equal or better quality to choose from. Those who might find use for this product should read on.
NTSC and PAL are converted
At this time I don’t know of a manufacturer that actively promotes a region free DVD player. Although, there are many hacks available online which can convert certain DVD players to be region free. The Jaton PSD7611K does not ship in region free mode. You must enter a button sequence from the remote to enable the region free feature. It will also only play NTSC and PAL formats.
Not a fancy DVD player
The Jaton unit is basic looking black, single-disc home DVD player. It has large buttons on the front of the unit for power, eject, play, fast forward and reverse, plus front jacks for a microphone and headphone. The front panel also has a LED digital display which shows disc type, track information, video format, and audio format. All of these readouts were too small to be read from a distance making them useless from afar.
The backside of the box has all the connections you need, including component video, s-video, composite video, coaxial and optical digital audio outputs, regular analog audio outs, and a six channel analog output.
Remote Control Bad
The remote control left more to be desired. It looks like a cheap remote with many tiny buttons grouped too close together. Unfortunately I had problems advancing chapters and activating the play and pause buttons. I was very careful not to fat-finger the remote.
Very basic menu system
The on-screen menu consists only of a text based interface. This is where you set the audio, video and TV options, as well as choose NTSC/PAL and Progressive/Interlaced Scan. The menu system is geared towards the more advanced user. I was able to complete the basic setup for my widescreen HDTV in a few minutes. Unfortunately, if you select the wrong option you can lose the picture all-together. When I mistakenly selected PAL format, the screen went black and the menu disappeared. The only way to get the picture back was to reset the box by pressing the Power – Clear – Power buttons sequentially on the remote.
The Jaton unit is capable of progressive scan (480p) video output when used with a HDTV-compatible display. The PSD7611K uses the National Semi-conductor chip which handles the progressive scan processing. It did slightly improve picture quality on my TV when I ran through various test patterns. However, since my TV has a built-in line doubler, I could not notice a dramatic difference viewing movies in progressive mode.
The PSD7611K does have some nice features. It will also play VCD, SVCD, CD, CD-R and MP3 discs. The unit has built-in Dolby Digital (AC-3) 5.1 and DTS 5.1 processors. There is a Karaoke function which allows you to connect a microphone (not included) to practice your singing for the next American Idol auditions.
When playing movies I would occasionally get an internal DVD error message on the screen for no apparent reason. The error even occurred on a brand new disc. The hard to activate remote control became another annoyance when the button pressed would not work, even with new batteries installed. As expected, it did perform region free encoding when I played a Region 2 PAL disc bought from the UK.
Not worth it
The Jaton PSD7611K is geared towards the DVD user who knows what they are doing and doesn’t need advanced features. Unless you really need a region free DVD player I cannot recommend this unit, due to its many usability problems. At its list price of $399 it isn’t much of a bargain either. Although I have seen some prices online for under $250, making it more attractive.
Remember I am just one man with one opinion. If you own this product, or have a comment or question feel free to add your thoughts below.
Founder & CEO