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Onkyo DV-BD606 Blu-ray Player
Onkyo used to be a staunch supporter of HD DVD, but when the format was canned it quietly retired the DV-HD805 player and switched allegiance to Blu-ray. The DV-BD606 is Onkyo's first Blu-ray deck and with a price tag of around £350 it finds itself up against players like the Denon DVD-1800BD, Pioneer BDP-51FD and Panasonic DMP-BD55.
The DV-BD606 is another in a long line of Blu-ray decks that lack BD Live support, despite a growing number of discs on the market with web-enabled features. Its Profile 1.1 spec gets you BonusView PIP access, which might suffice for some movie fans but it does make that price tag harder to swallow, particularly when cheaper players like the LG BD300 offer BD Live straight out of the box.
The Onkyo's straight-laced, boxy design won't exactly have guests swooning on the sofa, but the black finish (also available in silver) and brushed lower section mean it's not completely without charm, and more importantly its build quality is excellent.
Interestingly, there's an SD card slot on the front panel, which not only supports MP3 and JPEG playback but also lets you upload Virtual Package data from the web for use with BonusView Blu-ray discs (but you'll need a card of at least 256MB for this).
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted the aesthetic similarities between the Onkyo and the Denon DVD-1800BD, both of which sport SD card slots, identical display panels and the same buttons on the fascia. That's because they're the same player in different clothes, a fact borne out by the similar sockets on the rear panel and other operational similarities. The Onkyo does lack the Pure Direct mode found on the Denon, which turns off the video circuitry to reduce interference with the audio signal, but Onkyo says its player's superior power supply makes this mode irrelevant.
The socket selection includes HDMI v1.3, component, composite and stereo audio outputs, but Onkyo goes one better than Denon by offering optical digital audio output alongside the coaxial port. But like the Denon it lacks multichannel audio outputs, so if your amp doesn't have HDMI inputs and HD audio decoding, then Dolby Digital or DTS is the best you're going to get.
In fact, anyone wanting to take advantage of the lossless quality offered by Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks will need an AV receiver that decodes them, as the deck's own decoding talents are limited. The HDMI v1.3 port allows it to output both in bitstream form but when the deck converts either format to PCM it extracts the Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 core and not the hi-res extension, leaving you with the same sound quality you'd get from the optical or coaxial outputs.
However, there's a decent set of video features on board, such as the now customary 1080/24p output, Deep Colour support (useful if the industry ever releases any content), a 150MHz/12-bit video DAC and playback of DivX, MP3 and JPEG files from DVDs and CDs. You can also use the deck to upscale DVDs, which will save a lot of cash if you don't fancy replacing your entire collection on Blu-ray.