The DVP3980/05 is DivX Ultra certified, which means it'll play all versions of the format, including video-on-demand, plus other features like subtitles, multiple audio languages, multiple tracks and menus. Other supported file formats include MP3, WMA and JPEG, and with the latter, the files are displayed in high resolution, without the loss of clarity that normally occurs when watching photos on a DVD player.
As for discs, the drive reads DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD-R, CD-R, CD-RW, Video CD and Super Video CD, but the low price rules out SACD playback (apart from the CD layer on hybrid discs, of course).
Other features include an effective zoom mode, which blows up the picture to 4x its normal size without greatly reducing the quality of the image, and can also shrink the image to a quarter of its normal size. Elsewhere the deck gives you a pleasing level of control over DVD playback, offering a zippy 32x search speed, as well as slow motion, repeat and repeat A-B modes.
The supplied remote is cute and ergonomic, fitting into the hand snugly and placing all the main control pads within easy reach of the thumb. All the buttons are made of rubber and are clearly labelled, making it very pleasant to use.
Configuration settings are limited, but there are a few tweaks on board. In the picture setup menu, you'll find the HDMI resolution options, including a handy Auto mode, and a choice of picture presets. One of these (Personal) lets you change the levels of brightness, contrast, sharpness and colour, but as you're adjusting the levels the menu gets in the way of the picture so you can't see the results until you exit. As for audio, you can set a lip sync delay of up to 200ms, activate a Night mode that boosts the sound at low volumes, and there's a set of audio presets designed to mimic different listening environments or to suit different genres.
The setup menu is basic but functional, arranging all the options in a logical structure. There's a very useful display that can be called up during playback, which shrinks the movie down to a small box and shows all of the relevant details about the current playback status, including the current bitrate.