Following last year's DVD-1730, this new version adds 1080p upscaling to the 1730's already impressive feature list.

Denon says it has upgraded the performance, but another interesting addition is a green ECO standby mode, which cuts the power consumption down to 0.8W. Great news if you're keen to reduce your carbon footprint.

The design has also been tweaked, giving the 1740 curved edges to complement the Japanese company's new receiver range, resulting in a gorgeous and impeccably-built deck. It's also quite chunky, but Denon has never made ultra-slim DVD players, preferring to use the fascia space for a large display panel and clearly visible controls. Our sample was black, but it's also available in silver.

The key feature here is 1080p, 1080i and 720p upscaling, which makes this a perfect partner for a full HD or HD Ready TV.

In order to deliver these boosted pictures to your display, there's an HDMI output on the rear panel, which can also deliver multichannel digital audio to an amp. It lines up alongside component video output, an RGB-capable Scart and two digital audio outputs.

As per all Denon DVD decks, the 1740 supports an impressive range of disc and file formats. Playable media files include MP3, WMA and JPEG, plus the deck will play any type of DiVX video file (including v6 and VOD), as well as offering plenty of support features like multiple subtitles, chapter points and interactive menus.

Fitted inside the deck's reinforced, vibration-absorbing chassis are 12-bit/108kHz video DACs and 24-bit/192kHz Burr Brown audio DACs, plus discrete video circuitry and separate analogue and digital circuit boards to ensure high-quality performance.

As much as we admire Denon's 'performance is everything' attitude, we would have expected a few more bells and whistles for the money, such as a USB port or DVD-A/SACD playback - particularly when rival decks like the Pioneer DV-600AV offer all these features for the same price.

The setup menu offers a choice of Quick and Custom menus, the former presenting you with a shortlist of the key settings to get up and running quickly, while the latter covers all of the available options. Both are beautifully presented and logically structured, making it very easy to prepare the deck for action.

Likewise the remote is uncluttered and thoughtfully designed, boasting well-placed menu buttons and clear labelling. It's large, but at least you won't lose it down the back of the sofa.

The 1740 offers Denon's customary high quality video via HDMI, as demonstrated by its handling of our demanding Lady In The Water test disc.

The most striking aspect of the picture is how clean it is, with no trace of MPEG block noise even on background walls during dimly lit scenes. Other types of noise are also kept at bay, which ensures that the image looks sharp and forceful at all times.

With the upscaling circuitry increased to 1,080 lines, fine detail is sharply rendered, making intricate textures and patterns look focused. It also reveals single strands of hair and facial blemishes in close-ups.

The DVD-1740 is also more than a dab hand with colours, as demonstrated by the vivid reproduction of balloons and eccentric clothing seen during the movie's climactic party scenes.

What's more, the 1740 delivers deep and convincing blacks, and shows outstanding subtlety when it comes to displaying dark scenes. For example, when Paul Giamatti confronts a scrunt in the darkness, its excellent shadow detailing (coupled with the aforementioned lack of noise) gives the picture a terrific sense of scale, not to mention detail that makes blades of grass and even individual strands of fur clearly visible.

In fact, we can report no major picture flaws from this deck, even when it comes to DiVX playback, which is both smooth and stable.

However, it is disappointing that the deck doesn't support any other MPEG4 video formats as do some other players costing less than this one. On the plus side, though, JPEGs look extremely crisp and vibrant and are surprisingly free from jagged edges.

Piping a Dolby Digital or DTS soundtrack to a competent amp results in astonishingly good 5.1 performance, but a better gauge of the 1740's sonic prowess is its two-channel CD playback - and on that score it delivers the goods.

Corinne Bailey Rae's beautiful cover of Editors' Munich sounds fantastic, with Ms Rae's soothing voice reproduced in a warm and controlled manner, supported by a crisp and authentic-sounding acoustic guitar. The results aren't quite as clean as our dedicated CD player, but they are superb by DVD deck standards.

MP3 and WMA files also sound great, particularly when they've been encoded at 192kbps or higher.

The 1740 boasts sensational picture quality, making it perfect for owners of bigscreen displays who want the best possible picture quality for a minimal outlay.

What's more, its solid build quality and high-grade components put supermarket cheapies to shame and perfectly illustrates the 'get what you pay for' adage when it comes to purchasing a DVD player.

But from a features perspective, some rival players offer better value for money, boasting extra functions for the same price or less - and it's arguable that the Denon's picture quality (while excellent) isn't sufficiently superior to excuse the missing features.

Taken at face value, however, the 1740 is a typically classy deck of a standard that should appeal to home cinema fans everywhere.