Blu-ray and HD DVD are certainly shaking up the way we watch movies, but not everyone has the cash (or the energy) to buy all their favourite films again on one of these new HD formats.
So if you're going to be stuck with DVDs for a while, you might as well pick up a player that makes them look their very best - and that's where the Denon DVD-2930 comes in.
It's an upscaling DVD player, which means it can take the 576-lines of video stored on a DVD disc and boost them up to 720 or 1080 lines. But whereas the majority of upscaling DVD players only upscale to 720p or 1080i, the DVD-2930 goes one better and offers 1080p output, the same resolution offered by most Blu-ray and HD DVD decks.
So if you've got a 'full HD' TV - in other words, one that boasts a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels - then this player's pictures can be 'mapped' directly onto the screen pixel for pixel, without needing to be upscaled or deinterlaced by the TV. The result? DVD pictures look better than ever.
Size of a pig!
The deck's other big selling point is its immaculate build quality. Granted, it's a bit porky when it's compared with the swarms of wafer-thin machines on the market, but this is a deck that puts quality over cosmetics.
It boasts an aluminium front panel and a three-layer bottom chassis to reduce any meddlesome vibration, and it's fitted with high-grade video and audio components to keep the signal ship-shape. Everything about this piece of kit oozes quality, from its reassuringly heavy 7.6kg weight down to the smooth disc tray mechanism.
The feature list reads like an A-Z of home cinema jargon. It plays both DVD-Audio and SACD, which makes it a top choice for audiophiles, while Web downloaders will be happy with DivX playback. It's also compatible with MP3, WMA and JPEG files plus a decent array of recordable disc types.
You're spoilt for choice when hooking this up to your display. HD devotees should head straight to the HDMI output (which is version 1.1, socket-spotters) but there's also a set of progressive-scan component video outputs and a single RGB-capable Scart.
On the audio side, you'll find six-channel analogue outputs for DVD-A and SACD playback, or binary buffs can use the Denon Link socket, which carries the multichannel signal digitally to a Denon receiver.
Chip on its solder
Denon's videophile heritage means there's an overwhelming array of picture power at your disposal. Space prevents us discussing it in depth, but the highlight is undoubtedly the Silicon Optix REON VX chip, which makes its debut on the DVD-2930.
It can perform one trillion video processing operations per second, and is used by broadcasters and the movie industry to ensure optimum picture quality. It handles scaling and deinterlacing, noise reduction and image enhancement.
It's backed up by Denon Pixel Image Correction (DPIC), Noise Shaped Video (NSV) and a built-in video equaliser, which should all pay dividends on a big screen.
And sure enough, this awesome specification sheet translates into some seriously good picture quality. We slung Superman Returns into the disc tray and were knocked for six by the truly heroic images it was able to conjure up, which look fantastic no matter what scene is being played.
First up, colour reproduction is stunning. Superman's iconic outfit is displayed with a rich and convincing shade of blue, while bright outdoor shots like the baseball stadium where Supes lands the plane look radiant. Not only is it a dab hand at reproducing forceful colour tones, it also displays a deftness of touch with subtle hues like Lois's skin, or the blue-tinged ice at the Fortress of Solitude.
You'll also be amazed at how clean the pictures look. Not once did MPEG block noise rear its ugly head even during the most action-packed scenes, and other artefacts like mosquito noise or over-sharpened edges are mercifully kept at bay.
As for the deck's scaling capabilities, they're nigh-on faultless. At 720p or 1080i there are no artefacts to speak of, and the detail in the picture is staggering. It lends a texture and three-dimensionality to the image that budget decks can only dream of, dragging the standard definition content as close to hi-def quality as possible. It's no match for a good Blu-ray disc, though - even a DVD deck as powerful as this can't add detail that isn't there.
You won't be disappointed with its audio playback. Both Avalon by Roxy Music on SACD and Variationsby Atagiin on DVD-Audio sound astonishingly rich, detailed and organic, with expert handling of the surround channels. You can also hear the deck's quality in the clean, well-separated stereo CD playback.
As you can tell, we like this DVD player. It delivers dreamy picture quality, great features and is packed into a chassis so robust it could withstand a bomb. The only issue is price. At £650, it's a bit expensive, but considering the performance is equal to that of a £1,000 deck, we think it's worth every penny.