Although high-end decks can sometimes be dull, featureless affairs – justifying it with a focus on performance over ‘gimmicks’ – that doesn’t apply to the DBP-2012UD. It’s equipped with many of the latest tricks currently en vogue in the Blu-ray world.
Not only is it primed for 3D playback, but it can also stream videos from YouTube (after a firmware update that wasn’t available at the time of writing) and stream media over your home network thanks to the deck’s DLNA certification. This networking functionality isn’t a patch on the latest players from Samsung, LG or Panasonic, for example, but it’s better than previous Denon decks. On the downside there’s no built-in Wi-Fi or support with a USB dongle, so you’ll need to use the more cumbersome Ethernet port and LAN cable.
The USB port in the front allows you to play DivX HD, MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, JPEG, MPEG-1/2/4 and WMV and you can also stream these over a network, but the lack of MKV support may be a turn off for some users.
The key feature as far as audio enthusiasts are concerned is the DBP-2012UD’s universal disc support, which includes DVD-Audio and SACD. This, combined with the USB port and network streaming, means you can play your music and movies all from one source, whether they’re on disc, PC or digital device, which is a real bonus.
What’s more, the deck’s high-quality internal circuitry is a feature in itself. There’s a 297MHz/12-bit video DAC, 192kHz/32-bit audio DACs for all channels and Anchor Bay’s highly-regarded ABT2015 chipset for DVD upscaling. The deck will decode DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby True HD, as well as feeding them in bitstream form from the HDMI output.
Denon hasn’t gone to town on its operating system in the same way as Samsung or Sony, but there’s a reassuring simplicity and responsiveness about the deck’s displays that makes it a breeze to operate. The Home menu sports a row of four options – Media Player, YouTube, Setup and Quit. The setup menu is comprehensive yet easy to follow, while the DLNA menus (accessed via the Media Player option) make it easy to find your content.
To tweak the picture – as AV enthusiasts are wont to do – you need to enter a separate, dedicated menu. Here, you can alter the levels of contrast, brightness, gamma, sharpness and hue, as well as fine tune the levels of white and black and apply 3D, block and mosquito noise reduction. There are five memory presets to store your tweaks.
The remote is terrific, using capital-letter labels and a generally intuitive structure that allows you to navigate round menus without looking at it.