This £70 deck certainly has the measure of the budget market, but faces a tougher task against rivals in the sub-£100 HD-upscaling arena.

Visually, it puts them all to shame with a beautiful black finish and gently sloping fascia that evokes the style of Samsung's Blu-ray player.

The Korean manufacturer has found space for a decent set of sockets, the most important of which is an HDMI that fires 720p and 1080i pictures to any TV that will accept them. Sadly, 1080p isn't on offer, which immediately loses the deck some points. You also get Scart, component, S-video and composite connections into the bargain, plus optical and electrical digital audio jacks.

Unsurprisingly for the price, the DVD-HD870 isn't over-endowed with features (there's no memory card, USB, SACD or DVD-A playback), but there are one or two useful functions. You can manually adjust individual aspects of the picture, such as brightness, black level, colour saturation and contrast, giving you a lot of control over how they look.

There's also DiVX video playback, plus MP3, WMA and JPEG support. The deck outputs Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams from its digital audio ports.

Operating the unit is far from a chore, thanks to the tidy and attractive menu system that lets you locate settings quickly and easily. The remote's basic button arrangement helps you master it in minutes, with all the key navigational controls in convenient reach of the thumb.

The DVD-HD870 punches above its weight with a picture performance that makes movie material look superb.

Most striking is black reproduction, which gives pictures a rock-solid foundation on which to build, but with good enough contrast to display delicate shadow detail within those areas.

Colour reproduction is also top-notch, with bright tones looking vibrant and full-blooded, while trickier skin shades appear natural. The beauty is that with so many picture tweaks at your disposal you'll always find the right balance.

Fine detail is sharply reproduced, with the excellent black level making it look suitably punchy. With the HDMI set to 720p or 1080i there's a slight, but noticeable improvement in detail clarity with no artefacts to speak of, but the improvements aren't as pronounced as they are on high-end upscaling players - but for £70 it's unreasonable to expect more.

What's pleasing, however, is the lack of MPEG decoder noise or grain in the picture, which allows detail to burst through in all its unadulterated glory.

DiVX playback is smooth and stable, and audio performance is decent, if not spectacular. It retains plenty of sonic detail and keeps the whole thing from descending into a muddy mess, as many DVD players are prone to do.

Overall then, we remain impressed by this deck, but once again it doesn't quite have the picture chops or killer features to topple the competition.

But in all other respects, this is an accomplished deck, so if 1080p isn't for you it's still worth a punt.