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The Yamaha's picture performance is uniformly excellent. We used the trusty King Kong disc on a 52in 1080p flat-panel, and with the upscaling set to 1080i we were impressed by the sharpness and solidity of the image. Its strong detail reproduction is best demonstrated by shots of Kong perched on his cliff top lookout - the surrounding scenery, with its busy mixture of vines, bushes and plants, looks steady and focused, with very little twitching or noise to interfere with the clarity. Shots of Kong himself are expertly rendered too - his craggy face is displayed with every crease and wrinkle intact, plus you can pick out individual strands of fur.
Dark scenes don't reveal any problems either. Shots of Jack creeping through a cave full of bats demonstrate terrific black level as well as top notch contrast and shadow detailing, plus there isn't an excessive amount of noise lurking in the background.
And when the situation calls for it, the DVD-S661 conjures up some dazzling colours - an ability put to good use during the vibrant scenes on Skull Island. Skin tones are also well-judged, rounding off a really impressive performance.
The Yamaha also serves up some seriously exciting multichannel sound from its digital audio output - check out the planes swirling around the Empire State Building for proof - and with CD playback it stays true to Yamaha's respected audio roots with a polished performance from the analogue stereo outputs.
Had Yamaha slipped DVD-Audio/SACD playback and 1080p upscaling onto the DVD-S661's feature list, we would have had a certified ‘must-buy' on our hands, but as it stands these omissions prove to be its undoing. You can pick up players from the likes of Pioneer and OPPO that provide these features for a similar amount of money, greatly reducing the Yamaha's value factor.
But what you do get for your green is a slimline, attractive and well-built player that offers a competent performance and some handy features. It certainly won't leave you feeling disappointed, but just be sure to check out the competition before buying.
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