Elsewhere the deck does all the basic stuff you’d expec – three-stage zoom, slow-motion, frame advance, four-speed search, bookmarks – but more unusual is the EZ View feature, which offers a range of viewing modes for 16:9 and 4:3 material. These are mostly aimed at people who want to get rid of black bars, the downside being that they either distort the picture or reduce the quality.
Most of these features are accessed from an onscreen display, accessed by pressing info on the remote. This handy list also shows the current title, chapter, running time, selected subtitles and audio track in an easy to read box. This menu is vital given the unit’s lack of a physical display panel on the front.
The setup menu is similarly well laid out, superimposing a transparent menu box over an attractive graphic. Unlike some previous Samsung DVD players it responds instantly to remote commands and covers all the key options. There’s even a separate section for the HDMI connection, which lets you choose the output resolution, activate Anynet+ CEC and enter the Picture Quality menu. The latter lets you alter the levels of brightness, contrast and colour saturation in five increments.
The dinky remote looks fiddly at first glance, but its chunky, ergonomic shape fits beautifully into the hand. The buttons are on the small side but they’re all placed within easy reach of the thumb, which makes it surprisingly easy to use.
Hooked up to a 42in plasma, the DVD-H1080 produces very respectable picture quality for such an affordable machine. It can’t match the sharpness or noise-free purity offered by players from Pioneer or Onkyo, but as budget players go this is a fine effort. It tackles the gorgeous visuals of ”Amelie” with admirable conviction, and is particularly adept at conveying the movie’s lavish colour palette. When Amelie rides the ghost train at the funfair, its green and orange hues are deep and radiant, plus skin tones, shading and subtle gradations are smoothly expressed throughout the movie.