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The report card for the onscreen displays also reads 'could do better'. The in-playback displays, showing chapter, title and running time info, are also far too rudimentary for a product this pricey - the generic white text is better suited to a cheapo Chinese knock off. The setup menu is equally unpleasant, using ZX Spectrum-like graphics and a basic colour palette. The fact that it's easy to use stops this being a deal-breaker but it does slightly erode the deck's high-end aura.
But after witnessing the Primare in action with Apocalypto on DVD, our faith is completely restored. Rigged up to a 1080p TV, it delivers wonderfully clean and evocative images, bursting with vivid-yet-natural colours, ocean-deep blacks and shedloads of crisply rendered detail. These qualities are clear to see in any of our test movie's rainforest backdrops, with the textures of tree bark and tiny leaves looking wonderfully sharp, plus the screen is filled with rich, realistic browns and greens. Skin tones are perfectly pitched too, and the unit's slick processing tracks Jaguar Paw's movement with fluidity and focus during his heart-pounding chases through the rainforest.
It's equally at home with the range of tests thrown up by the HQV DVD - it does a wonderful job of eliminating jaggies during the diagonal filter pattern, takes the flapping flag clip in its stride and renders fine detail (moving and still) with admirable acuity. All in all, this is a fine video performer.
Even more impressive is the DVDi10's sound quality, which is no real surprise given the hi-fi pedigree behind it. Apocalypto's pounding DTS track is sparky and dynamic yet smooth on the ear. It attacks transients with plenty of bite, delivers top-end frequencies without straying into harshness, and relays the subtler background elements of the film's sound design with no problem whatsoever. Through our Teufel Theater 3s it delivered a fast, transparent sound which delves down fairly deep even without a bass-bin connected, but for true cinematic clout make sure you employ that sub output.
The Primare's music reproduction is a revelation, delivering a mature, finely-balanced rendition of Blue in Green by Miles Davis. The sound is admirably neutral - a far cry from the crude cacophony offered by some one-box 2.1-channel systems - but it still retains that element of warmth needed to make this mellifluous masterpiece tweak the heart strings. Lovely stuff.
Although we initially baulked at the DVDi10's eye-popping price tag, after spending time in its company we can now see and hear where your money's going. The picture and sound quality on offer is nothing short of sensational, while the bulletproof build quality and sophisticated looks make it an eye-catching home cinema centrepiece. The bizarre operational idiosyncrasies, poor onscreen menus and lack of DivX support diminish the quality of the overall package and hardly put it at the cutting-edge of AV tech, but in terms of pure performance you certainly won't be disappointed.
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