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Despite its reputation as a pioneer in the DVD market, Denon has been surprisingly slow to embrace Blu-ray. But now it's making up for lost time with three hi-def players - the top-end DVD-3800BD, the DVD-2500BT transport and the entry-level DVD-1800BD. We say entry-level, but with an MSRP of £550 (or around £450 online) the DVD-1800BD is a lot pricier than entry-level players from the likes of Panasonic, Sony and Samsung, so let's find out if it justifies the extra cost.
Denon sent us the black version of the player and after pulling it out of the box we were pleasantly surprised by its understated and slightly old-fashioned looks. The fascia has a fetching curved ridge along the top and a helpfully large display panel, while the inclusion of just five buttons keeps things nice and minimal. But if you're after a bit more pizzazz then go for the silver version, which for our money is the better looking of the two.
On the front panel is an SD/SDHC slot, which enables you to play music and photos stored on SD cards through the player. It's a convenient and somewhat surprising feature, given that Denon doesn't even put card slots on its DVD players, let alone Blu-ray decks.
The DVD-1800BD's entry-level status means that it sports fewer sockets than the 3800BD, but for this sort of money we would have expected more. You obviously get an HDMI output, whose v1.3 specification offers Deep Colour support and HD audio bitstream output, plus component and composite video outputs. On the audio front you get coaxial digital and analogue stereo output, but sadly there are no 5.1- or 7.1-channel analogue outputs or optical digital output.
The other major omission is an Ethernet LAN port, an indication of the player's Profile 1.1 specification. This of course means that it doesn't support BD Live, another feature we would have expected at this price - particularly as it's found on even the cheapest players (the Samsung BD-P1500 springs to mind). The DVD-3800BD doesn't support BD Live either, making Denon's Blu-ray family better suited to those who would rather watch the film than download trailers or chat online. You can, however, access BonusView content such as picture-in-picture commentaries.