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"Entry Level DVD Player Becoming Scarce"

The sales of the low cost Apex AD-600 DVD player are gaining rapidly as consumers scramble to find the machines. Several unique features contribute to the popularity of the machine, but it's a set of hidden functions that has really pushed it over the edge. The DVD players, which are manufactured in China, sell for under $180.00, but their feature set is on par with much higher selling systems, and they have some additional options that most do not. 

One feature that has made the Apex so popular is the ability to play a CD-R disc of MP3 music. The AD-600A appears to be the first stand-alone DVD player in the U.S. that can play MP3 discs, and although the menu and playback functions of the system are limited, it is an interesting feature that has given the player some extra attention. Many MP3 users already store their music in this manner because of the large number of songs that can fit safely on one CD-R. Another excellent feature is the ability to limit access to certain types of materials wih the built-in ratings enforcer. It will certainly make parents happy, and depending on the device settings, the player will not play any disc rated R, X, or unrated unless a secret code is entered. 

In addition to all the standard DVD options, the system also has video outputs and access to Dolby Digital via a coaxial output. Another feature is built-in support for karaoke, which is not found on most systems. With two mic inputs and a level control, it has all the necessary functionality for an adequate system. In addition, the Apex player also supports DTS, a high-end audio format

Although these features certainly make the player a worthwhile addition to a home system, it is a hidden feature that makes the system such a hot commodity. The Apex features a secret menu that actually lets users change the region encoding and turn off Macrovision copy-protection . The manual does not mention the menu as it doesn't appear to have been intended for general consumer use. In fact, a message at the bottom of the menu screen reads "You should not be here." Once the Macrovision copy protection is disabled, users can make copies of DVD movies onto VHS tape. It is this feature that has angered movie studios and the Motion Picture Association of America.

The Apex AD-600 is a low-end DVD player that has proved every bit as capable as many of the better mid-range players. Thanks to an interesting feature set and word-of-mouth marketing, the Apex players are pretty rare at nearly every Circuit City store, which is the main retail outlet for the player. The makers of the AD-600 recently announced that future versions of the product would disable the hidden features, so if you want one of these players, you better hurry.

  - by Clayton Crooks

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