- Review Price: £99.95
The DVD-1740 is the little brother of the DVD-1940, which we recently raved about here at TR. As Denon’s entry-level deck, it lacks many of the features found on the step-up 1940 but as a result it’s a good £80 cheaper, bringing Denon’s enviable AV prowess to a wider audience.
So what has Denon removed from the 1940 spec sheet to reach this lower price? The most significant omission is DVD-Audio and SACD playback, which denies it universal status, and it lacks built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoding – but who really needs these anyway? Also missing are the Faroudja progressive scan engine and aluminium front panel, but on the whole the 1740’s feature list still looks fairly tempting, if not irresistible.
Of greatest interest to HDTV owners is the presence of an HDMI output, which has the ability to fire out video upscaled to 1080p, 1080i or 720p, depending on what’s best for your display. We doubt this will rival the magnificent upscaling found on Denon’s high-end players like the DVD-2930, but should still offer significant performance benefits. Owners of older TVs can use the RGB-capable Scart, S-video, composite or component video outputs, the latter offering progressive scan courtesy of the Matsushita chip.
Obviously the lack of DVD-A, SACD and Dolby Digital/DTS decoding means there are no 5.1-channel audio outputs but you do get analogue stereo output and a choice of optical or coaxial digital audio outputs.
As ever, this Denon deck supports a decent range of compressed media formats. The list includes MP3, WMA and JPEG plus DivX Ultra certification, which means it’s fully equipped to handle every type of file from 3.11 through to 6 and will also play VOD content with a code that you’ll find in the setup menu (plus other DVDesque features like subtitles and chapter points).
The DVD-1740 also spins most home-burned discs, with a compatibility list that takes in all the DVD formats barring DVD-RAM, plus CD-R/RW, Video CDs and Super Video CDs (remember them?). Sadly Denon couldn’t stretch to a USB port, which always goes down well when it’s found on a front panel. Normally the lack of USB port and hi-res audio playback wouldn’t be a huge problem, but when you consider that some players (such as the Pioneer DV-600AV) offer both of these features for the same price, it becomes disappointing and could count against the DVD-1740 when push comes to shove.
But those of you concerned about your carbon footprint can take heart from the 1740’s ECO mode, which uses just 0.8W in standby – a reduction from its predecessor’s standby power consumption figure of 1.5W.
”’(centre)The DVD-1740 is designed to complement Denon’s AV receivers.(/centre)”’
Although the 1740 lacks the tank-like build quality of pricier Denon decks, it’s still solidly constructed and boasts gently curved edges that match the company’s latest range of AV receivers. It’s available in silver or black and isn’t exactly slimline, but its chunky frame makes room on the front panel for a sensibly-sized display and large controls. The reinforced, vibration-absorbing chassis is reassuring, working to reduce the influence of external forces on the AV performance.
Internally the deck is fitted with a 108MHz/12-bit video DAC and 192kHz/24-bit Burr Brown audio DAC, plus it features discreet video circuitry and separate analogue and digital circuit boards to ensure an interference-free signal path for both pictures and sound.
The ‘Custom’ setup menu presents you with a generous range of options to tweak, but there’s a ‘Quick’ menu if you only want to fiddle with the most important settings. Both are presented with admirable clarity and logic, using legible text and attractive icons and backgrounds. As for the remote, it’s a bit of a beast but still strangely ergonomic, and the excellent button arrangement makes it simple to navigate menus.
Denon backs up the high ease-of-use factor with top-notch picture performance, handling even the most difficult discs with the carefree confidence of a more expensive player. Lady In The Water is an unconventional but suitably challenging test disc, and thankfully it gets a respectful treatment at the hands of the DVD-1740.
What jumps out first is the strength and depth of the colours during the movie’s brighter moments, giving the picture the sort of vibrancy that the DVD format is famous for. Edge definition is razor-sharp and detail levels are high, displaying a great deal of movie minutiae such as pockmarks and hair follicles during facial close-ups. But when the light dims, the quality of those pictures doesn’t; the deck retains a lot of detail in the darkness, which gives the image a wonderful sense of depth at all times – check the scene where Paul Giamatti squares up to a Scrunt at night for proof.
Also impressive is the lack of noise. Even on a large hi-def display, it’s very difficult to spot any upscaling artefacts, jaggies or block noise. There are a couple of slight twitches here and there but no more than you’d expect from any other similarly priced player. Motion is also smooth and flicker-free, whether you’re using the HDMI output or the prog scan enabled component ports.
The deck also turns in a very strong audio performance, but we can’t help but wish DVD-Audio and SACD playback were on the agenda. Nevertheless, CDs sound crisp and colourful thanks to the deck’s terrific frequency range and lack of distortion. We’re also impressed by the quality of compressed music files, which sound clean provided the encoding is up to scratch.
We can’t deny that the DVD-1740 is a very competent deck, but even taking its excellent performance into consideration we can’t help but feel that you can get more for your money elsewhere – the Pioneer DV-600AV, for example, adds DVD-A, SACD, WMV and AAC playback plus a USB port for the same price, putting the Denon’s feature list to shame. The Denon’s pictures are possibly better, but not enough to make up for the lack of these features – most people would choose extra bells and whistles over fractionally better pictures any day of the week.
But judged on its own merits, the DVD-1740 is a solid player, once again demonstrating the Japanese brand’s uncanny ability to wring the very best performance out of a player within the limitations of its price point. Build quality is superb, the rich, cinematic quality of the images it produces are ideal for movie fans – even those with demanding bigscreen displays – while the smooth audio playback means you can ditch your old CD player with confidence.
Score in detail