Arcam make players that do very well at both audio and video.
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In all honesty, save yourself some money and get one of the upper es series Sony's. They are well built, offer a 5 year warranty and video quality is about as good as it gets. Look through the reviews and you will always see them right up there.
To beat them, you'll need to spend a lot more bucks and I'm not sure how much you'll beat them by.
What's your monitor? Does it have the "DVI" input? My 61" Samsung DLP has the DVI input. I'm waiting for the next generation of their current player with DVI output. I've seen the first generation, it has problems with face tones & motion artifact.
I like the "digital direct" concept of DVI. The $299.00 street price doesn't hurt, either......
If you have DVI the Bravo D1 (for $199) gives an incredible picture that many reviewers see as equalling or bettering almost anything else out there (check reviews in Widescreen Review, projectorcentral.com, or go to avsforum.com for much discussion).
Two caveats: the component output is poor, and there have been reliability problems (tho' mine has not given me problems).
It's really not hard to sort the Sony's. The 7000 and 7700 are well built and offer an excellent picture. They are very similiar with the 7700 being the newer of the 2. The excellent 9000 came out after the 7700 series and is built like a tank and offers SACD audio playback with superb picture quality. Then the 999 replaced it. The picture quality is a touch better but the audio performance is not as good. However, the 999 offers multi channel sacd Playback. Sony is on the verge of replacing the 999 in the next few months.
I used the 7700 with my Sony 36" xbr with excellent results. I, like you, am not particularly interested in audio playback. I have another system for that.
My 36" has just been replaced with a 40" direct view xbr. I'm now using the Sony 999 and couldn't be happier. The 40" offers superb resolution and the 999 holds up its end.
Changes are coming and I just wouldn't spend a lot on current players. Find something economical and sit tight a little while. What is available now will be obsolete before long.
Drobin07, your caveats are well taken. My D1 did look great with my Sammy DLP, but would frequently have problems loading and finally gave up the ghost after about 7 months. Bravo has issued a RMA and maybe they will be stand-up about it, but it has been annoying. I have gone back to using a Sony DVP9000ES. The difference in picture quality is small, and everything else is superior. They are on Audiogon at regular intervals at about $500 and are a bargain at that price, considering the excellent build quality and audio performance. Denon is equally high quality and have just announced a new line of universal players, most of which have DVI and fit in your price range.
I have both a Sony (DVP-NS999ES) and an Arcam (DV-87). From a purely video-centric point of view, they both have advantages and disadvantages.
- provides best picture I've seen for videotape-sourced DVDs
- all kinds of options to tailor video output, probably more than anyone needs
- does not exhibit chroma bug (this only matters if you're sensitive to it)
- front panel display can be turned off
- has more bells and whistles than most people will ever use
- US model will not play anything but Region 1 NTSC discs
- picture not quite as "filmlike" with film-sourced DVDs
- has more bells and whistles than most people will ever use
- provides the best picture I've seen for film-based DVDs, very cinematic
- plays PAL discs, even on an NTSC-only television
- can change regions or make region-free from the remote, no hacks or hardware changes necessary
- very simple menu structure
- the remote control is very poorly laid out
- exhibits chroma bug; however, the effect is very mild and is less noticeable than most other players with the bug
- front panel display is bright and cannot be turned off
- very simple menu structure means not much fine-tuning control (although I don't think the player needs it)
From a sonics standpoint, the Sony plays SACDs and the Arcam doesn't. This may or may not matter to you. The Sony decodes DD and DTS, and can output decoded DVD-Vs through its 5.1 analog outs (with bass and speaker management). So, for someone with a pre/pro or receiver that doesn't decode DD or DTS but can accept a 5.1 analog output, this is the player. The Arcam decodes DD and DTS, but does not have 5.1 analog outs. The Arcam sounds substantially better than the Sony via two-channel analog outs. Arcam sounds marginally better on DVD-Vs through the coax digital out than the Sony. Arcam is substantially better on CDs, both via analog and digital outs. Arcam decodes HDCD.
Note - this is the cheapest Arcam DVD player. The more expensive ones are even better.
The "BEST" DVD Player for video only???? And what would I get if I had about $2,500.00 to spend???
If I am going to put together an all out assault video rig for about $10s of thousands of dollars, and if audio isn't going to be an issue (and by audio being an issue, I mean that the player will then be required to playback SACD's and DVD-A's as well as regular movie DVD's), then I would have to take a VERY hard look at the TOL Arcams. I have read many times (and has comfirmed sometime later) that at the steep prices these players seem to command, the picture quality coming from these players is something that must be seen to be believed. The Arcams are THAT good. And it's not enough that they are very good in video. They are very good audio players too. That's what I would look at if I had about $2,500.00 to spend on a DVD Player. The Denon DVD-5900 would come into a rather distant second (but would be the first player I would look at if I am going to going to do high resolution audio as well as state of the art video).
But then again, as I have read in an earlier issue of "The Perfect Vision" this year, you don't even have to spend that much money to get a VERY good DVD Player. Arcam also makes the DV-78 (which also produces a top drawer picture, and superior audio as well) which retails for just $1,000.00. And then, I also believe that Sony might be closing out the DVP-NS999ES. And if that's the case, then you could go ahead and get a DVP-NS999ES for a great price (brand new, at Crutchfield....... at about $800.00). That's a player that's worth looking into as well. Their ES players have always been excellent players.
My two cents worth on the subject.
Good luck with hunting down your player.