The budget DVD market is a fearsomely competitive world, where obscure Far Eastern players made from what appears to be polystyrene do battle with stripped down players from bigger brands.
King of this jungle at the moment is Toshiba’s ££60 SD-370E, but a new beast is threatening to take over – Samsung’s 1080i upscaling HD870.
The HD870 does indeed redefine what you can expect from a sub-£100 player, knocking stars off its rivals along the way. Its claws are perhaps somewhat clipped by only managing to upscale to 1080i, but the real-life difference between that and 1080p is hardly a deal-breaker at this price.
The sleek lines of the Samsung belie its cost, and will have the cheaper plasticky models hastily covering up their sleazy styling.
Features aren’t lacking, either. HDMI, component, TGB Scart, composite plus a digital coaxial output for audio all receive a big tick. You’ll also hear it roar from afar with Dolby Digital and DTS encoding on board.
The Devil’s in the details
The amount of detail and insight on offer is very high indeed, even in the gloomiest of dark scenes. In fact, not even fast motion can throw this player off-kilter.
In lighter scenes, the colour palette is vivid without being garish. Reds are full-blooded while skin colours are, thankfully, fleshy, with no over-encroaching pinks or greens.
You’re not going to be blown away by the music performance, but sonic ability is also more than adequate.
While other budget players have a down-side – whether it be lack of detail (Toshiba’s SD-370E), motion problems (Philips’ DVP5980) or price (Denon’s DVD-1740) – the HD870 has no such weaknesses.
It’s a real DVD all-rounder, which is quite incredible for £70. The next question is: who can take this sort of performance below the £50 barrier? Thanks to this Samsung, it now doesn’t seem so impossible.