We've perhaps become a little blasé about budget DVD players, but this deck from Pioneer deserves nothing but your full attention.

It will obviously appeal to those who don't want to spend a fortune to get a quality experience, but its staggering specification also means it will appeal to those who simply want a DVD deck that does just about everything.

Video upscaling is almost a deal-breaker on a DVD player these days - if the deck doesn't have it you'll look elsewhere. The DV-400V has that very feature - all the way up to 1080p too, which is remarkable at the price.

Eye candy

Next to catch our eye is the superb multimedia compatibility and the provision of a USB port on the front panel for connecting an external storage device.

The Pioneer DV-400V has other digital goodies that may tempt you, including a zoom, DSP modes and video adjust menu (comprising sharpness, brightness, contrast, gamma, hue and chroma level).

The only really notable omissions are DVD-Audio and SACD playback, plus there's no digital optical audio output included.

Set-up is easy thanks to a tried and trusted menu layout and the remote is flawless, just like the sleek design of this model.

We started off with an RGB Scart connection, still likely to be popular with many users. The image is highly detailed and has a great colour range.

Switch to the HDMI output and things improve. The picture is now more dynamic and there is a touch more depth to the image.

You may be tempted to dive into that video adjust menu to get exactly the picture you want, but things look great with the factory settings.

Engaging upscaling sees a slight effect, but nothing especially dramatic. Remember that an HD Ready TV may well already upscale a non-HD image better than a budget DVD player anyway, so a bit of 'compare and contrast' will help you to decide which is the better of the two.

Still, you're not paying much for the feature and the fact remains that the HDMI output is worth having even without upscaling thanks to its superior picture delivery.

The DV-400V is no slouch when it comes to audio either. It's a super performer with home cinema soundtracks and does a commendable job on CDs too.

In short, this player is well equipped to be the workhorse of a very respectable home cinema system. As you can get a quality DVD player like this for £100, you may be reluctant to pay any more, unless you're planning on stepping up to a high definition disc player.