With one exception, everything about the DVP-NS975V's simple, intuitive menu system will be familiar to anyone who's set up a Sony DVD player. That exception is an option, buried in the menu system, to switch between 1080i, 720p, 480p, and 480i output resolutions for the HDMI jack. We would prefer to have a dedicated button on the remote for changing resolutions (the Bravo D2 has one), but in reality, most users will set the output to the best resolution for their TV and never touch it again.
The simple, functional remote lacks backlighting but includes dedicated buttons for lots of functions, including frame-by-frame step-through. It can control other brands of TV.In addition to the standard outputs--one component video, two A/V with composite and S-Video, one 5.1-channel analog audio, and one each optical and coaxial digital audio--the DVP-NS975V has a USB-looking HDMI output that delivers digital video and audio to HDMI-equipped displays. If you buy a DVI-to-HDMI adapter (starting around $30), you can connect the DVP-NS975V to DVI-equipped displays as well without any loss of video quality.
As noted, this player can also deliver HDTV resolutions over its HDMI output, although it can't send 1080i or 720p signals over any other video output. Unlike the Bravo D2, which with some careful tweaking and a lot of information about your display you can get to output "custom" resolutions that exactly match the native resolutions of fixed-pixel displays, the NS975V offers only the industry standard 1,920x1,080 interlaced or 1,280x720 progressive resolutions. The HDMI jack can also be set to 480i or 480p, as can the component-video output.
The DVP-NS975V also includes multichannel SACD playback via its analog 5.1-channel outputs. Separate bass management setup screens are provided for SACD as well as for Dolby Digital/DTS sources. You can control the contrast, brightness, color, and hue of the picture. Another notable feature is the adjustable audio delay (0 to 100 milliseconds), designed to establish sync in systems where video lags behind the audio. Unfortunately, the delay doesn't work with Dolby Digital or DTS over the digital audio or HDMI outputs.To test the Sony DVP-NS975V's video quality, we connected it to a few of the TVs in our A/V testing facility and compared the images to those of the Bravo D2 DVI-based player. We primarily used Sharp's LC-32GD4U, since it has both an HDMI and a DVI input and can provide a level playing field.
In most of our tests, the players were equal, although the Sony showed evidence of inaccurate color decoding when outputting high-def resolutions via its HDMI output. It deaccentuated green by 15 percent more than the Bravo (a significant amount), according to the color decoder check on Avia. This resulted in less-impactful green colors, such as grass and trees, in program material. This was also exacerbated by the tendency of many fixed-pixel TVs to deaccentuate green themselves.