Delivers the goods
At first glance, the single, silver component at the center of this system looks like it houses only a five-disc DVD changer. But on closer inspection, you'll notice that along with the disc changer, Pioneer's also stuffed in a 400-watt (total power) receiver. It's not exactly packed with features, but it has the essentials, such as Dolby Digital and DTS decoding.
As far as the changer itself goes, we had no complaints. The carousel mechanism is a smoother operator than that of elevator-style changers; it skips discs in less than 15 seconds and starts playing in 12 seconds. Though the DVD player isn't a good match for higher-end TVs, those with more basic analog sets will find the video quality quite acceptable.
Lower-priced HTIBs tend not to have a plethora of connectivity options, and the 510DV is no exception. In fact, its connectivity quotient is minimal: you can hook up a VCR and one other analog source, and there's just one digital audio input and no digital output. On the video front, you're limited to one composite and one S-Video output.
On a more positive note, adjusting the speaker levels and other setup chores were snag-free, thanks in large part to the nifty remote. This one isn't riddled with gobs of buttons, so it's unusually easy to use.
The HTD-510DV's power ratings (100 watts driving the front speakers, 34 watts each on the center/surrounds, and 100 watts for the sub) are realistic. We pummeled the sats with the Saving Private Ryan DVD's full-tilt maelstrom, and they never cried uncle--hardly a given for HTIBs in this price class. Those 10-inch-tall left and right speakers look and sound bigger than most compact HTIBs' sats. Their size advantage also yields a wider dynamic range than the average pipsqueak speaker.