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OPPO DV-980H DVD Player - OPPO DV-980H
Also pleasing is that the deck isn't locked into Region 2 - it plays Region 1 discs from the box, which is perhaps a side effect of its American origin. Inside the unit is a star-studded line-up of audio components supplied by OPPO's ‘world famous high fidelity audio equipment partners', including 192kHz/24-bit audio DACs.
A rummage in the setup menu reveals a gratifying level of flexibility when it comes to picture and sound optimisation. In the video realm, you can adjust the levels of sharpness, brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and gamma, as well as change the colour space and RGB range. As for audio, you can set the size, delay and levels for each individual channel, plus choose from seven EQ types that suit different types of music, and seven sound field modes including Bathroom, Cave and Church - all of which are convincing but ultimately useless.
There are a few other nice features that make for an enjoyable playback experience. The last position memory jumps straight back to the point where you left off after you take a disc out and reinsert it - even if you watch another disc in-between. If you want to get up close and personal with your favourite scenes, or check out whether that really is a ghost behind Ted Danson in Three Men And A Baby, then the surprisingly high-quality seven stage zoom mode lets you do so. You can zip through discs at 32x normal speed, watch in slow motion, bookmark favourite scenes and manually search for specific points on the disc - all of which are DVD basics but handy nonetheless. But the most novel feature is Capture, which takes a still from the film you're watching at the push of a button and uses it as the background splash-screen when you first boot up the player.
The DV-980H is generally user-friendly, with menus that respond snappily to remote commands and a setup menu that might look basic but is easy to follow. Some elements frustrate - you can't enter submenus by pressing ‘right' on the control pad - but we're nit-picking; overall it's fairly hassle-free. The onscreen displays are similarly rudimentary (blocky white text is so last decade) but convey the information in a clear and legible manner, which is the most important thing.
Sadly, the remote feels a little on the cheap side, sporting big spongy buttons that don't give you a satisfying click, and they all look too similar. On the plus side the buttons glow in the dark and the zapper is ergonomically shaped.