The player is exceptionally easy to use, boasting logical menus and onscreen displays peppered with cute, colourful icons and large text. The remote is also thoughtfully laid out, with nicely sized and well separated buttons that keep it from feeling cluttered. Thanks to the unit's size, the front panel controls are given room to breathe, making it easy to access the key functions without delving into the setup menu.
Although pictures lack the pin-sharp refinement of high-end Denon decks like the DVD-3930 or 2930, the image quality is still superb. We loaded up the X-Men disc, and when viewed through the HDMI output at 1080p the player delivers slick, assured pictures throughout. The built-in picture adjustments prove to be a valuable inclusion - we achieved some terrific results after a quick fiddle with the settings.
The most impressive aspect is how clean and well-defined the image is, with no obvious block noise or upscaling artefacts on display. It also ensures smooth, judder-free motion at all times, which helps when watching a particularly action-packed movie.
The deck's detail reproduction is wonderfully sharp, displaying tiny objects and subtle textures like facial stubble or grass with pin-point precision. OK, so it's no match for hi-def, but as DVD pictures go these are some of the best we've seen at this price.
Also impressive is the faithful reproduction of strongly saturated colour, which makes bright outdoor scenes look dazzling and lends Mystique's skin an utterly convincing shade of bright blue. It also does a great job with human skin tones. This top-notch colour performance is backed up by cracking black level and contrast, which makes it possible to spot gentle shadow detail during dark scenes.
These magnificent pictures are complimented by outstanding sound quality with multi-channel and stereo material. Using the 5.1-channel outputs and built-in decoder, X-Men's rousing DTS soundtrack is feisty, direct and well-balanced, sounding a lot more dynamic than the Dolby Digital version. Effects are guided effortlessly around the soundstage and the well-separated centre channel information allows dialogue to cut through noisy scenes like a hot knife through butter.
The DVD-1940 also makes an excellent music player. Just for old time's sake, we let it rip with Nirvana's Nevermind through the analogue stereo outputs and were staggered by the sheer force and clarity with which it conveys those classic guitar riffs and crashing drums. Its SACD and DVD-Audio performance is similarly stunning, making discs like Roxy Music's Avalon on SACD sound sharp and dynamic.
We don't really have a bad word to say about the DVD-1940. It's packed with features, offers kick-ass performance and its build quality is a cut above most budget players. If we're being picky, cheaper universal players like the Pioneer DV-600V add a USB port for less money, but judged on its own merit, the DVD-1940 is a sensational DVD player that earns our wholehearted recommendation.