In terms of disc compatibility, the Oppo DV-970HD is about average. It choked on most of the discs in our test suite that are marked difficult and even a couple that are marked easy. On the upside, it had no problem playing DVDs with MP3s on them, as well as DivX files burned on DVDs and CDs. The DV-970HD also provides excellent support for high-resolution audio discs, including SACD, DVD-Audio, and HDCD. Even better, it's able to send multichannel SACD and DVD-Audio over its HDMI output, assuming your receiver can handle it. Note that the Oppo's internal bass management options won't satisfy serious audiophiles, so they'll want to offload that task to a receiver, anyway.
We put the DV-970HD through the steps of Silicon Optix's HQV Benchmark test and it performed very well. Resolution tests were detailed and stable, rotating lines suffered only a little distortion, and it successfully engaged 2:3 processing on the difficult "race car" test. However, it wasn't perfect--we could see some slight artifacts on a waving flag, and its noise reduction was lackluster.
We decided to put the DV-970HD head-to-head with the aforementioned $850 Denon DVD-2930CI and watched several scenes from the Serenity DVD. It was extremely difficult to pinpoint any scene where the DVD-2930CI was demonstrably better. Even on a sizeable screen such as the 50-inch Pioneer PDP-5070HD's, we felt the DV-970HD held its own.
In all, the Oppo DV-970HD delivered an experience more reminiscent of the decidedly high-end Denon DVD-2930CI than that of similarly priced players. That's a big compliment, considering the huge price differential. With its fully loaded feature-set and excellent performance, the DV-970HD is an exceptional choice for videophiles and home-theater enthusiasts who are on a budget.
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