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Onkyo DV-BD606 Blu-ray Player - Onkyo DV-BD606
Onkyo has done a terrific job at differentiating its onscreen presentation from that of the Denon DVD-1800BD, although both share the idea of splitting the setup menu into Custom and Quick modes. Onkyo's setup menu looks modern and tasteful, with a logical structure, legible text and cute graphics. The cursor moves around quickly and the options are easy to understand without the aid of the manual, although the various HDMI audio options might require some clarification.
There are two BD Audio output modes, HD Audio Output and Mix Audio Output, and you'll need to select the former to pipe the raw bitstream to your amp, or the latter if you want to listen to the primary and secondary audio tracks with BonusView PIP content. A separate set of options allows you to select HDMI Multi (Normal), which outputs either bitstream or LPCM, or HDMI Multi (LPCM), which forces it to output LPCM.
The remote is a far cry from the Denon's elegant zapper - it sports a big, chunky shape and feels light and plasticky, but the button placement and labelling are spot-on and there are handy keys for changing the resolution, activating PIP and accessing the pop-up menu.
Operating speed is fairly average, and pales in comparison with the LG BD300, our current load-time champion. It boots up in about 25 seconds, which isn't bad, but takes a whole minute to fire up The Dark Knight's first menu screen.
The DV-BD606 delivers a pleasing Blu-ray picture, particularly with The Dark Knight in the disc tray. The movie is presented with plenty of detail, deep blacks and vibrant colours, which make the images look rich and cinematic throughout.
Particularly impressive are the spectacular IMAX sequences showing panoramic shots of Gotham or The Joker blowing up the hospital - they're delivered with exactly the sort of eye-popping clarity and grandeur that the director intended. But it's equally adept at handling the movie's frequent night-time scenes and dingy interior shots, and its refusal to relinquish its grip on detail and contrast in the dark makes for a pleasing watch.
The 1080/24p output results in smooth, judder-free movement, best demonstrated by the bat-bike dodging in and out of traffic, while edges are clean and smooth and there's precious little noise to sully the picture. But a comparison with the superb Pioneer BDP-51FD shows that the Onkyo's pictures aren't quite up to the same standard - its images seem just a fraction softer and less distinct, but there's not much in it.