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Take the scene where the camera moves up and over the (seemingly) deserted entrance to Skull Island - the deck picks out the minute detail with ease and isn't thrown by the quick movement of the camera. Likewise, fine detail like the fabric of Jack Black's jacket or the texture of the island's rocks and foliage is sharp and natural-looking. This, combined with excellent black reproduction and contrast, makes this player perfectly suited for movie playback.
For comparison we played the same scenes on the Samsung BD-P1400 Blu-ray player and Toshiba HD-E1 HD DVD deck (both of which are actually very good upscalers) and felt that the DV-983H has a definite edge, giving the image a more organic, film-like quality and displaying fewer artefacts, particularly around edges.
The OPPO's colour reproduction is also magnificent, offering realistic-looking skin tones with all the delicate shading intact, plus the bright greens of the Skull Island setting are displayed with real vigour. It's also worth noting that you can find a very satisfying balance using the deck's own picture tweaks, and surprisingly the sharpness control can be cranked up to give the image a little more bite without introducing much ringing into the picture.
Sound quality is similarly impressive. We let the deck decode King Kong's 5.1-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack internally and the results were mesmerising, offering excellent channel separation, smooth steering and clean, direct dialogue from the centre channel. Also, a blast of some 96kHz/24-bit, 5-channel DVD-Audio material reveals the OPPO to be a very competent hi-res audio player, while Roxanne from the SACD release of Every Breath You Take by The Police sounds wonderfully open and energetic, with some nicely handled reverb effects from the rear channels.
Playback of multimedia files from disc or USB is impressive, particularly hi-res JPEGs, which look astonishingly sharp thanks to the HD JPEG feature. MP3 and WMA files sound crisp and perky while DivX, XviD and WMV files play back smoothly.
The DV-983H's awesome picture performance and incredible feature list makes it one of the best DVD players we've come across, leaving OPPO's previous two decks looking like supermarket cheapies. But £300 is undeniably expensive for a DVD player no matter how good it's picture quality is, and if you have that sort of money to spend we'd recommend getting yourself a Blu-ray player first, because true 1080p still looks much better (despite what the DVD die-hards tell you). But if you're still unhappy with its DVD upscaling, or simply can't be bothered with Blu-ray and want the best possible DVD performance, then the DV-983H is an ideal choice.
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