Serenity on DVD really shows off the player's potential. The tricky intergalactic landscapes look focused and vividly coloured, while darker shots set in dingy cities or the depths of space remain clearly visible thanks to excellent black and contrast levels. Also pleasing is the lack of block noise and jaggies, plus the consistently smooth and judder-free motion.
The DV-981HD is equally accomplished with audio. We piped Serenity's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack to our amp using the 5.1 analogue outs (to test its own decoding capabilities, as opposed to our amp's) and the results were magnificent. Explosions are big and imposing, staccato effects like gunshots are sharp and snappy, dialogue is prominent and the rear channels are well-steered and clearly reproduced.
Fans of high-quality audio will be pleased with the DV-981HD's DVD-A and SACD performance. The SACD version of Roxanne by The Police sounds fresh and energetic, with a beautiful balance between the bass, mid and top end frequencies. And despite the drop in resolution, CDs sound clean and dynamic enough to make this a viable alternative to a CD player.
If you can't be bothered with Blu-ray and want a reasonably priced DVD deck that supports a wide range of formats, then you'd do well to track the DV-981HD down. The user interface could be improved, but performance is hugely impressive, punching above its weight with music and delivering flawless 1080p upscaling. Add to this top-drawer build quality and slinky slimline looks, and you've got one great movie machine, proving that our Stateside friends really do know a great thing when they see it.