Designed for those with large DVD and CD collections, the Sony DVP-CX995V can hold a whopping 400 discs with its large carousel design. The most significant update is the addition of an upscaling HDMI output, through which the player can output not only standard 480p but also 720p and 1080i high-def resolutions. Overall, the DVP-CX995V gets the job done well, but you'll have to put up with a couple of frustrating operational quirks along the way.
The first thing you'll notice about the Sony DVP-CX995V is its enormous size. It measures 7.5 by 17 by 21.5 inches, so you'll need plenty of room on your shelf, especially depth. Make sure to leave an inch or two of space for the protruding power supply in the back. Still, we can't complain too much about the size; 400 discs take up a lot of volume, no matter how you organize them.
The front of the unit features a large dial that selects discs as well as rewinds and fast-forwards them. In case the remote goes missing, you can access many functions via buttons on the front panel--there's even a convenient joystick for navigating the menus. In the center of the front panel, you'll find the powered door, which provides access to the carousel. When you hit Eject, the door opens, and the changer slightly elevates the selected disc for easier removal. You can lock the door to prevent young children from opening it.
The included remote tries to cram in a lot of functions, so it can get a little confusing. A slider selects the active mode: TV, Disc Explorer, or DVD. We found the DVD functions easy enough to use, but we would have liked separate buttons for Disc Explorer functions. For example, to access the main Disc Explorer menu, you have to press Folder, which isn't easy to figure out unless you've read the manual. Also, because the slider button segregates the functions, you can't use Disc Explorer buttons when in DVD mode.
One of the major benefits of a megachanger is the ability to browse through your disc collection via an onscreen display, which in this case Sony calls Disc Explorer. While it worked pretty well once we set it up, we had to enter a lot of disc information (such as title and genre) manually, since most DVDs don't upload this info to the changer automatically. You must enter the information either by selecting characters with your remote--a tedious process--or by plugging a standard PC keyboard into the PS/2 port on the front. We recommend using a keyboard if you plan on entering information for more than a few titles. The whole process takes a long time either way, as the changer needs to load each disc when you first place it in the carousel. We'd gladly pay an extra $100 for an Ethernet or Wi-Fi-enabled version that could pull the CD and DVD info straight off an online database.
Even after it's all set up, the Sony DVP-CX995V suffers from some annoying quirks. First of all, whenever you turn it on, it will begin playing the last DVD you were watching, whether or not you have the autoplay option on. This can be a real pain if the disc starts with some unskippable FBI warnings. We found that we could defeat the autoplay by hitting the Folder button, but that's a pretty nonintuitive (not to mention annoying) workaround. Secondly, if you remove a disc from the player--say, to watch it in another room or lend it to a friend--the unit forgets the title information, so you'll have to enter it again. It would be nice if you could enter information only once, then pretty much forget about the title-entering process; unfortunately, you can't.
On the upside, we were pleased to see a nicely implemented Custom Parental Control, which lets you restrict access based on rating. And if you can deal with the aforementioned issues, we found Disc Explorer a convenient way to browse through your movie and music collection.
The Sony DVP-CX995V offered acceptable disc compatibility, although it couldn't play DVDs with MP3s on them, and it choked on one home-burned DVD that almost never fouls up on other players. It also supports the high-resolution SACD audio format, but not DVD-Audio. Connectivity highlights include an HDMI output, a progressive-scan-compatible component-video output, two digital audio outputs (one optical, one coaxial), and analog multichannel audio outputs. Note that you can't send SACD signals digitally via HDMI or digital audio outputs, so you'll need to use the analog multichannel audio outputs and, of course, a compatible A/V receiver. If you don't need the HDMI input, you might want to check out the cheaper Sony DVP-CX985V, which offers most of the same functionality.
Video quality was fine, but not quite up to the level of Sony's single-disc upscaling HDMI player, the Sony DVP-NS975V. We found that the DVP-CX995V had some difficulty consistently passing all 480 lines of horizontal resolution from certain test patterns--problems similar to those we encountered on the Samsung DVD-HD950--while the DVP-NS975V handled the same patterns well. On the upside, the megachanger successfully rendered the hulls of the boats without any jaggies in Star Trek: Insurrection, demonstrating its 2:3 pull-down detection. Most uncritical viewers will find the video quality perfectly acceptable.