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N2000 vs SD2300 Review
by Derrick Hopkins

If you're thinking about buying a Samsung N2000 DVD player, I have three words for you. Don't do it. That may sound negative but actually, it's more of gentle prodding towards one of the other Nuon DVD players, the Samsung N501 or the Toshiba SD2300.

The Samsung N2000 is such a different beast than most other DVD players that it wouldn't be fair to compare it to other -non enhanced- players. It also wouldn't be fair to compare it to the Samsung N501, which is basically a N2000 with all the bad parts shaken out. The only real comparison would be between the Samsung N2000 and the Toshiba SD2300. The SD2300 and the N2000 hit the market at relatively the same time and both sport the same version of the Nuon hardware and software.

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So lets get this fight started. The first thing you see on a DVD player is..the DVD player. The casings of most home A/V equipment seem to have all sprung from the same mold. Square and Black. The SD2300 conforms to the status quo without hesitation. It's short stance and 90 degree angles help it disappear into any A/V rack without a peep. The N2000 on the other hand, is the complete opposite. It's silver faceplate, stray angular lines, and bold shuttle knob all scream for attention from anyone that even thinks about glancing at it. The N2000 wants you to know that it's something different.

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sd2300rem.jpg - 13756 Bytes n2000rem.jpg - 14432 BytesThe aesthetic differences between the two Nuon siblings don't stop at the player. The remotes are miles apart in looks. The N2000's remote is a curvy number with large buttons and a small joystick plastered in the middle. The SD2300 makes do with a long, lanky remote that's filled with small buttons and a hidden compartment that holds even more small buttons. While the N2000's remote is a joy to hold in your hand, the SD2300's unit feels as if it would be more at home in the creases of a couch, never to be touched by human hands.

So far, the N2000 is the flashy, attractive cheerleader that everyone wanted to ask to the prom. And the SD2300 is the awkward, nearsighted bookish girl that never even went to a dance.

When you turn on the N2000, you get a blue, swirly Samsung logo welcoming you to the world of DVD. The SD2300 gives you a dull gray screen. But wait. The SD2300s screen doesn't have to stay gray. You can use a still frame from any DVD and the SD2300 will display it every time you turn it on or hit the stop button. Your favorite actress or actor, scene, studio logo, etc etc. can greet you through the SD2300. If you're adventurous, you can even burn an image to a Video CD and have virtually any picture displayed on boot up. As far as the N2000's Samsung logo. well, that same pretty logo gets old after a few months.

Now lets get to the movies. Simply put, the N2000 is not a great DVD player. Many DVD players have problems with layer changes on the discs, but the N2000 practically throws a fit on some. Instead of a half second hiccup, the screen will freeze for a few seconds, and then, if you're lucky, jump ahead a few more seconds and resume playing. If you're unlucky, the N2000 will stay in it's frozen state or even open the disc tray, as if it's scolding you for even asking it to play the disc in the first place. Also the N2000 will take its sweet time recognizing VCDs. Believe it or not, there are a lot of legal Video discs on the market. But don't tell that to the N2000, it may take up to a minute to decide if it'll play a VCD and if it does, the audio will have a tendency to lose sync after a few minutes. Not good. And that's not all. Some discs that make heavy use of DVD's branching capabilities wont play correctly on the N2000. In particular, Criterion's Beastie Boys Anthology DVD makes uses of multiple angles, extended branching, and multiple audio tracks. The N2000 refuses to play the disc correctly. The SD2300 on the other hand, handles all of these situations much much better. While it's not perfect, I have yet to see it spit out a disc or lock up.

Since both players are NUON enhanced, each has cool features that are available on every DVD movie you stick in them. But the N2000 has more. A lot more. In fact, the only real 'cool' Nuon feature on the SD2300 is the kick ass Zoom. The 20x Zoom lets you get up close and personal to films without pixelization. It's been compared to the zoom effect used in Blade Runner and that's not far off the mark. Except the zoom in the Nuon is on moving video and not just a still picture. Even though the SD2300's zoom is great, the N2000's zoom interface feels and reacts better. The N2000 goes a step further and adds 'Screen Fit' and 'Strobe to its arsenal. Strobe is a gimmick, plain and simple. It pastes 9 stills of a movie on the screen and updates them. It's a button that gets pressed once and will never be pressed again by 99% of users. Screen fit is another gimmick, but one that some people might find more attractive. It stretches the screen height of letter- boxed films so that they fill the screen on non-wide screen sets. Its side effect is that it elongates and distorts to pictures so it's akin to watching a film in a funhouse mirror. Surprisingly, you get used to it after a couple of minutes. But its still a gimmick and will be ignored by most users. Both players have an on-screen control center where you can do nice stuff like pick audio tracks and turn on subtitles. Here, the N2000 shines over the SD2300. It's menus simply look better and are easier to navigate.

Now we come to the big daddy difference between the two players for some people. VLM. All Nuon Players come with the Video Light Machine enhancement that adds psychedelic colors and patterns to any audio CD you stick in the tray. The VLM has different modes that react to the music differently. The SD2300 has eight VLM modes. The N2000 has over 100 modes. Don't get too excited, though, because even though the N2000 blows the SD2300 away in VLM music effects, you wont be able to get the full effect from them because the N2000 hates CD-Rs. If you want to burn your favorite tracks onto a CD and experience them in VLM Bliss, you better cross your fingers, sacrifice a chicken and pray to the techno gods, because the odds are the N2000 won't even recognize your CD-R, much less play it.

So in the end, my earlier analogy remains true. The N2000 is the attractive cheerleader and the SD2300 is the bookish girl. Like the cheerleader, the more time you spend with the N2000 the more you'll realize that the good looks are only covering up the shallow, poor performer on the inside. And like the bookish girl, the SD2300 will slowly open up to show you that its not what's on the outside that counts, it's inner strength and versatility that matters in the long run.


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