When connecting the player to an AV receiver, there are a few things worth bearing in mind. The DVD-1800BD can output Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS HD as a raw bitstream, so if your amp can decode any of these then you’ll be able to enjoy hi-res audio quality. But the player lacks the relevant decoders to turn these formats into PCM and output them via HDMI, so if your amp can’t decode these formats then you’ll have to settle for two or six-channel PCM converted from the regular Dolby Digital or DTS core. For two-channel audio the deck boasts Burr Brown 192 kHz/24-bit digital-to-analogue converters.
Video features are excellent. The Denon can output Blu-ray films in 1080/24p and will also upconvert DVDs to 720p, 1080i or 1080p. It features complete 10-bit signal processing and a video equalizer, which lets you alter the levels of colour, contrast, brightness, sharpness gamma correction and noise reduction. These settings are easily tweaked by pressing the Mode button on the remote, which also lets you turn secondary video on and off.
The DVD-1800BD also supports DivX files from DVD-RW/-R and CD-RW/-R, and also supports video on demand. In fact the player’s format support is impressive across the board, as it also welcomes MP3, WMA, JPEG and DVD+RW/+R discs.
Using the DVD-1800BD is a pleasant experience, as it responds quickly to commands from the remote and onscreen displays are easy on the eye. The superb remote has a spacious and intuitive button layout with clear labelling, plus its brushed aluminium finish makes it an eye-catching adornment for your coffee table. Disc loading times aren’t lightning quick but perfectly tolerable, taking 54 seconds to display ”Hellboy 2’s” first menu screen, which is pretty much the average these days.
Our initial impressions of the unit’s picture quality are generally positive, but it doesn’t quite deliver the awe-inspiring performance we were hoping for from a player bearing the Denon name, especially one that costs so much money. That’s not to say it’s bad though, far from it. ”Hellboy 2’s” richly textured visuals are imbued with layers of detail, bright, vivid colours and deep blacks, with well-defined edges and little noise to speak of. The Troll Market scene is the sort of thing Blu-ray was made for, and the Denon does a decent job of bringing the background characters and textured prosthetic make-up to life, plus the image has a convincing sense of depth, even with the dark surroundings.