Perhaps the DVD-S661’s most impressive aspect is its wide format compatibility. The unit is DivX certified, which means it supports all versions up to and including 6, alongside interactive menus, subtitles, alternate audio tracks and video-on-demand. It also plays MP3, WMA and JPEG files from discs and USB devices, and can even play MP3s and JPEGs simultaneously. Another bonus is HD JPEG playback, which displays photos in their native resolution via the HDMI output – a real boon if you’re fed up with the jagged, blurry JPEG playback offered by most DVD players.
On the disc front, you can play DVD-R, DVD-R (DL), DVD-RW (formatted in either Video or VR mode), DVD+RW, DVD+R and DVD+R (DL), alongside Video CD, Super Video CD, CD-R and CD-RW. However, it won’t play DVD-Audio or SACD, which is disappointing given that decks like the Pioneer DV-600AV play both for around the same price.
Elsewhere there’s a range of less important features, such as a six-stage picture zoom, resume play with a 10-disc memory and night mode. Internal components include a 108MHz/12-bit video DAC and 192kHz/24-bit audio DAC.
Delve into the video setup menu and you’ll find a selection of picture presets (Standard, Bright and Soft) plus a personal setting that lets you input your own brightness, colour and contrast levels. On the audio side you can set a sound delay to combat lip sync issues.
Elements of the player feel derivative – the setup menu is a generic affair, the sort of basic interface we’ve seen countless times before, and the multi-language manual looks like one you’d get with a Sony. On the plus side, onscreen displays are easy to navigate, lettering is clear and the software responds snappily to remote control commands.
Talking of which, the zapper is a little unusual – its stumpy shape makes it less ergonomic than most ‘full sized’ remotes, but the placement of the menu controls at the top where your thumb naturally lies is a canny move. Otherwise the buttons are well labelled, but the need to hold down the chapter skip keys to search forward or back is highly annoying.