The only area where the X5000 falls down is on edge smoothing, which the DCDi processor in the Denon is particularly good at. Load up something with lots of crisp edges – Finding Nemo, for example – and jaggies become apparent on the output of the X5000. It’s a small issue, however, that only the most picky of viewers will be bothered about, and other than this it’s a very capable upscaling player.
Despite the claims of audiophile performance, the X5000 can’t compete with a dedicated CD player of £200 or more, but again it stacked up pretty well against the Denon, which has pretty good audio output, and was certainly far more accomplished than either the Netgear HD EVA 8000 or the Freecom Network Media Player 350 I looked at earlier this year.
Jazz tracks from Stacey Kent’s The Lyric album sounded clear and precise, but with good stereo imaging and instrument separation. Bass is a little over-enthusiastic, with a loss of control evident in bass heavy tracks such as those found on Nitin Sawhney’s Beyond Skin, but overall there’s very little here not to like.
Any product that can do as much as the Helios X5000 can for less than £300 is bound to be a bit of a compromise, but here things that normally suffer in other products – build quality, sound quality and picture quality – are actually very impressive.
If it hadn’t been for the setup, usability and stability issues, I’d have given this product a big thumbs up. As it is, I can only say buyer beware – this is a product whose good points are balanced by plenty of very annoying ones.
Score in detail