The Apex AD-3201 is a PAL/NTSC DVD player made by Apex Digital. It features a low MSRP (You can acquire this unit for less than $100 in many retail locations) and support for a broad range of formats and cabling connections. It supports both Dolby Digital and DTS.


The formats supported by the 3201 include DVDs, 12cm HDCD Audio CDs, Video CDs, Standard Audio CDs, and CD-Recordable or CD-Rewritable media with an ISO9660 filesystem (Level 1 or 2) and containing MP3 audio files. VCDs can also be recorded onto CD-R or CD-RW, but noncommercial VCDs are unsupported by Apex - They do, however, play without problems.


The back panel of the unit carries composite, S-Video and Component video connections. Digital audio is provided both via coaxial and optical interfaces. Analog audio is carried on a standard Dual-RCA plug setup. This is not a progressive scan unit.


Power Supply: 120V AC 60 Hz
Power Consumption: 20 VA
Mass: 3.3 kg
External Dimensions: 430mm x 81mm x 300mm (W/H/D)

Signal System: Multi/NTSC/PAL

Laser: Semiconductor laser, 650nm wavelength

Output Specifications

Video Output: RCA (Pin) Jack, 1.0 V (p-p), 75 ohm, negative sync.

S-Video Output: 4-pin mini-DIN Jack, (Y) 1.0 V (p-p), 75 ohm, negative sync. (C) 0.286 V (p-p), 75 ohm.

Audio output (coaxial digital): RCA (Pin) Jack, 0.5 V (p-p), 75 ohm

Audio output (analog): Dual RCA (Pin) Jack, 2.0 V (rms), 10K ohm

The optical digital audio output is only mentioned in the documentation as part of the back panel diagram. It is standard for its type.


The Apex 3201 has a high geek factor because you can access a hidden menu which will let you change the region code of the unit (an unlimited number of times) or deactivate macrovision.

To get to this menu:

  1. Eject the disc tray.
  2. Push 8, 4, 2, 1 on the remote.
  3. Press "enter" on the remote to select the region. Select '9' for region bypass.

To save your settings, close the disc tray. (Press the open/close button on the remote or the unit.)


I picked up this unit at Kmart for about $110. Then I attempted to flash it from an image I downloaded from the Apex Digital website. Unfortunately this didn't go over well, and it corrupted the system image as the copy died somewhere in the middle. I took it back and got another, which flashed properly. The hidden menu works as advertised.

The unit does display some problems. First of all, some other Apex units have a considerably better MP3 player. This one only shows MS-DOS (8.3) filenames, and more annoyingly, you cannot program it as you would a CD Player. But the actual bug is that something appears to be wrong with the buffering, and when the device switches songs it sometimes plays the first second of the song, chokes, and then starts the song again from the beginning. On the other hand, it does play VBRE MP3s.

Finally, on some homemade Video CDs, when you swap between discs it is necessary to power cycle the unit or it will not play correctly. This is far more annoying than the MP3 bug as I make many VCDs. It does not seem to have this problem with Super Video CDs.

On the topic of SVCDs, there are a couple of problems which Apex Digital, Inc. refuses to address. One is that the player will sync audio and video incorrectly if you play a track with no audio. Second, SVCD subtitles do not work, so if you would like to make a subtitled SVCD with (for example) DVD2SVCD you will need to use permanent subtitles (the type overlaid on the video) rather than DVD-style subtitles which can be turned off.


  1. Apex Digital AD-3201 Operating Manual (Document 447/4/W)

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