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Like any DVD player worth its salt the SD-480E supports a variety of audio and video formats, including DivX, MP3 and JPEG. For DivX playback, it supports all versions up to 6 as well as video-on-demand using the registration code in the setup menu, but you can only play files from CD-R/-RW. The lack of WMA or WMV support is a shame but not the end of the world. It also spins every recordable DVD format except DVD-RAM.
The rest of the feature list is hardly revolutionary but includes all the stuff you’d expect. You can search through DVDs at up to 100x normal speed, play them frame by frame or in slow motion, or play chapters, titles or tracks at random or in a specific order. There’s also a three-stage zoom mode for getting up close and personal with movie minutiae, and you can rotate or magnify JPEGs.
The deck lacks the extensive image and sound tweaks found on your average Pioneer or Denon, but the Enhanced Picture Mode (EPM) affords more versatility than you might expect. Hit the dedicated button on the remote and up pops a box that enables you to change the levels of brightness and contrast in the picture, but unlike many similarly-priced players that offer only a few steps, the levels can be set anywhere between 1 and 32. We achieved some impressive results after a quick fiddle with these settings. EPM is joined by EAM (yes you’ve guessed it – Enhanced Audio Mode) which adds a virtual surround effect when listening through two speakers. It works with audio from the analogue outputs or PCM from the coaxial port.
We can’t fault the deck from an ease of use perspective, as it’s quick to respond to any command and the menu structure is straightforward. Onscreen displays use an attractive blue colour scheme and are consistently legible, plus the disc status display includes a bitrate count to keep video geeks happy. The remote won’t win any prizes for its looks but proves useable enough, with good button placement and labelling.
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