The DVP-NS725P, available for a street price of around $130, is Sony's midrange progressive-scan DVD player. It replaces the company's NS715P and looks nearly identical to the excellent entry-level NS325. The NS725P has the earlier models' slim, attractive chassis, with its left-of-center disc tray and its smattering of key controls on the right. The new machine also packs the NS325's effective, medium-size remote, which can also command a Sony television's basic functions.
The NS725P improves on the NS325's connectivity with progressive-scan component jacks and optical as well as coaxial digital-audio outputs. They all sit around back among the full range of basic DVD hookups. You get four audio presets; a six-disc resume function; black-level adjustment; and five video modes, one of which is user-customizable. There's also a digital-video enhancer, but we struggled to detect any real difference between its four settings. The onscreen setup menu is easy to access and navigate, but the control that toggles between the interlaced and progressive-video modes exists on only the front panel, not the remote.
Media compatibility proved to be one of the player's strong suits. The NS725P effortlessly booted every DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, VCD, MP3 CD-R, and standard-audio CD-R we threw at it, including some that tripped up other decks. Even better, most loaded in just a couple of seconds, skipping the interminable spin-up time that often accompanies our less than optimal, home-burned test discs. Our MP3 selections provided easy folder navigation and luxurious, 32-character track names. Those who want to listen to WMA music and view JPEG photos should look elsewhere, however, as the NS725P plays neither.
As expected, the NS725P exhibited the same high-level anamorphic downconversion we noted in the NS325, so wide-screen movies looked great on standard 4:3 screens. But the progressive-scan playback was a huge disappointment. Telltale moving lines on many objects, especially during camera movement, revealed late or inaccurate 3:2 pull-down. Toggling between the film, video, and automatic progressive modes made no visible difference. In fact, switching the player to interlaced mode, which shifted the video-processing burden to the Sony KV-34HS510 television, resulted in a noticeably better picture. Why Sony hasn't incorporated its TVs' superlative processing into its DVD decks is a mystery, and we hope the company corrects the problem soon.
If you're looking for optimal video quality from a progressive-scan player, steer clear of the NS725P. And note that although we haven't reviewed Sony's newer, less expensive NS425P, it seems almost identical to this unit. We have evaluated Panasonic's DVD-S55S, which offers solid prog-scan video and is a good alternative to the NS725P.