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In terms of picture quality however, the DV-980H really excels. Loading up our copy of Aliens from the Alien Quadrilogy boxset, the player makes James Cameron's sci-fi classic look slick, clean and cinematic. During the movie's many dark scenes, the action is displayed with depth and directness, and thankfully loses none of the detail.
Aliens` moody visuals don't test the deck's talents with bright, dazzling colours, but it does reveal its prowess with more subtle tones. Sigourney Weaver's skin looks beautifully balanced and utterly convincing, lacking the excessive red or green tinge that hinders some cheaper DVD players. And a blast of Finding Nemo reveals that strongly saturated colours are faithfully reproduced with mesmerising vibrancy.
The deck's 1080p upscaling is also highly impressive. Pictures boosted to 1080p and fed into a 1080p Toshiba set look fractionally cleaner and sharper than 576p pictures upscaled by the TV, demonstrating the benefits of upconverting the picture before it reaches the display.
Finally the player's sound quality is very good for the money. The Return of the King's Dolby Digital EX track is dynamic and lively, with the player's competent decoding making effective use of the extra surround information. Regular 5.1-channel soundtracks, carried over the analogue or digital outputs, also sound fantastic, while DVD-Audio and SACD material sounds every bit as sharp and detailed as we hoped it would. It isn't quite up there with the high-end Denons and Pioneers, but in the budget-to-midrange arena the DV-980H is a shining star.
OPPO is destined for big things in the UK if it continues to make DVD players as good as this. The DV-980H's feature list reads like an A-Z of DVD technology, boasting a host of appealing features like multiregion compatibility, HDMI v1.2 and a USB port, along with DVD-A and SACD support, wide media compatibility and even Dolby Digital Surround EX decoding. Its top-notch picture and sound performance, attractive slimline looks and solid build quality make it an even more appealing package. It needs some work in the remote control department and onscreen presentation could be jazzier, but overall this is one of the best-value DVD decks on the market right now.
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