Sega's trump card deal for this Christmas is its "DVDreamcast" offer, and what an offer it's turning out to be. One of the biggest plus points of the PlayStation 2 has to be its DVD playback, but the fact that it's software based (and therefore infinitely less reliable than hardware solutions where the strain falls on dedicated hardware) has put many audiophiles off. Considering the fact that many regard the Dreamcast as superior to the PlayStation 2 already, one of the most crucial announcements this Christmas is that Sega will be providing a DVD player (the Encore Direct 450) and a Dreamcast for the same price as the PS2 console, £299. With the Dreamcast available separately for a wallet-friendly £149, this could be big news. The Encore DVD player itself seems to be a middle of the pack unit - nothing too special, and quite unassuming. DVD Times rated it at 3/5, but they were a little miffed by some of its problems. Apparently the DVD tray is rather flimsy, with a tacky LCD panel to boot, marking the build quality down significantly. There were also apparent issues with lip-syncing of characters on screen, which is obviously a big no no. If you're tempted by this offer, make sure you read the review first. All in all it's a rather mixed bag for Sega now. The player / console package will probably do them justice in this year's Christmas sales, but unfortunately the quality of the unit may let it down. If we were to be so bold, we might suggest potential buyers bought a Dreamcast for £149 and invested instead in the excellent Scan SC-2000, available again for around £149 with added VAT.
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