Given that Blu-ray has long since buried HD DVD, we think it's a little weird that so far only a few manufacturers have released new Blu-ray players.

However, Onkyo, whose recent home cinema kit has been either ‘very good’ or ‘really very good indeed’, has stridden in where other brands seemingly fear to tread with its first Blu-ray spinner: the DV-BD606.

Straight from the 80s

First things first: we're never ones to judge a book by its cover, but the DV-BD606 is emphatically not a looker. Black might well be the new black, but the Onkyo's facade is a bit too ’80s for our liking.

No real complaints where specs are concerned, though. The lack of multichannel analogue outputs will disappoint owners of more elderly amplifiers, but in all other respects the Onkyo stacks up just fine.

Wired for HD sound

Undecoded Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio is available via the 1.3a HDMI output, as is decoded PCM sound. The same output can also deliver 1080p/24fps images, as well as DVD pictures upscaled to 1080p.

The fascia features an SD-card slot for playback of DivX or MP3 files, and the on-screen menus are as clear and concise as they come.

Lacklustre pictures

Sadly, compared to similarly priced rivals, images lack the last scintilla of detail – there's a vague, but undeniable, hint of softness to even the least demanding scenes.

Impression of depth doesn't convince like the best players around, either; dark images don't carry as much information as they might, and there's a dispiriting lack of vitality to colours and contrasts.

The DV-BD606 makes a far better impression with high-def sound. It's weighty and distinct, so soundtracks are presented expansively, with clear dialogue and a vibrant soundstage.

Better at DVDs

Luckily, upscaling to 1080p, the '606 displays the sort of clarity and stability more readily associated with comparably priced DVD players, as well as a more confident colour palette. The same burly, detailed sound is present too.

It's also worth mentioning that despite its older BD Profile 1.1 spec, the Onkyo loads and plays your discs with impressive speed.

Welcome though this is, it can’t detract from our dissatisfaction with the way the DV-BD606 performs as a high-def player. We’re certain you can spend your money more wisely.

Stuff says... 

Onkyo DV-BD606 review

A capable player in most areas except, crucially, picture quality