We preview the Samsung DVD-HD860 upscaling DVD player, which is designed to convert DVDs to high-definition resolutions.
The Samsung DVD-HD860 is an upscaling DVD player, capable of upscaling DVDs over its HDMI output to 720p and 1080i. Despite some of the marketing hype espousing that they'll make your DVDs appear in HD picture quality, the increase in picture quality from upscaling will never come close to matching that of HDTV, and the increase is completely dependent on how good the upscaling technology in your TV already is. Every HDTV is already capable of upscaling; the only benefit an upscaling DVD player can bring to the table is to do it better. In some cases the difference is easily discernable, while in others it's much more subtle. The bottom line for every upscaling DVD player is that it might be able to make your DVDs look better, but the difference will probably be worth it only to image-quality enthusiasts.
We haven't tested the DVD-HD860, but we have tested the step-up model, the Samsung DVD-HD960. The two models are very similar, the major differences being that the DVD-HD960 adds the ability to upscale to 1080p and has Faroudja video processing. If you don't have a 1080p HDTV, you won't be able to gain any benefit from this feature, and even if you do, the difference between 1080i and 1080p upscaling is often very slight. In fact, we found it very difficult to tell the difference between the 1080i and 1080p upscaling when we looked at the DVD-HD960. Again, we haven't tested the DVD-HD860, but if its performance is similar to the DVD-HD960, it seems to be a better value because we've seen it going for almost half the price online. On the other hand, it's possible that the Faroudja processing has a large effect on performance, so we don't know if the DVD-HD860 will deliver similar performance.