Although it's far from the cheapest deck, unlike most of its rivals the Denon DVD-1720 boasts neither Super Audio CD or DVD-Audio playback, nor video upscaling. So, um, exactly what does it do?
Typically for Denon, the 1720 has no truck with the mega-slim approach favoured by most decks at this relatively low price-point. Hopefully, this is because the extra space inside the 1720's 'full-sized' frame is put to good use in screening the deck's audiovisual components from each other.
These are pretty basic. This Denon fails to offer either the 5.1 phono outputs that might indicate the presence of DVD-A and SACD playback, or a digital video output that might have indicated the presence of video upscaling. Thankfully there is at least a set of component jacks for progressive scan output, an RGB Scart, both electrical and optical digital audio outputs, and the usual lower-rent video fallbacks.
While higher resolution sound and vision isn't on the cards, there is compatibility with DiVX encoded homebrew discs, and there's a 2MB cache for minimising the pause during DVD layer switching. You also get a bitrate meter, allowing you to examine how your DVD has been encoded.
Picture parameter controls are good: the player allows you to adjust contrast, brightness, sharpness, gamma levels and colour saturation.
The 1720's images are, for the most part, reasonably pleasing. With both RGB Scart and progressive component feeds, I was immediately struck by the outstanding richness of the colour palette. This helps bring a real sense of solidity and vibrancy to whatever disc you watch.
RGB and component feeds also both exhibit high levels of detail and sharpness without any attendant edge exaggeration (especially visible in progressive mode), and black levels reach admirable depths. Video frequency response is excellent; typically -0.4dB at 58MHz.
The 1720's pictures do have one weakness, though: the appearance of quite a bit of dot crawl noise from time to time, such as during the opening scenes of both Se7en and Magnolia.
Sonically the 1720 is best heard via its digital audio outputs. Its audio jitter is 1152.8ps, which is poor.
After the recent disappointment of the DVD deck supplied for Denon's DVD-550 home cinema system, the 1720 comes as a welcome reminder of just how accomplished Denon's budget DVD decks usually are. Its DVD performance is very good (especially in progressive mode), leaving a lack of features and CD playback as its only causes for concern.