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The HDTV Podcast
This review is featured in the latest podcast from The HT Guys

Oppo Digital DV-980H 1080p Up-Converting Universal DVD Player ($169)
It is no secret that the HT Guys like and recommend Oppo Digital upconverting DVD players. We have reviewed the current lineup of DV-970HD, OPDV971H, and DV-981HD players in the past. Today we take a look at the new Oppo Digital DV-980H (Buy Now). Essentially the 980 is the same as a 970 but with 1080p and better audio capability for just $20 more. This review will not be as detailed as previous Oppo reviews because we found that the performance was similar to the 970. We'll concentrate on what is new or what has improved.

The main features include:

  • High definition up-conversion up to 1080p “Full HD” resolution
  • 7.1 Channel audio with Dolby Digital Surround EX decoding
  • Optimized high-fidelity audio circuitry
  • HDMI v1.2a output with exceptional core video performance and high resolution audio support (multi-channel PCM and DSD)
  • USB 2.0 interface for video, picture and music playback
  • DVD-Audio, Super Audio CD (SACD) and DVD-Video universal playback
  • Official DivX Certified product. Plays all versions of DivX video (including DivX 6) with standard playback of DivX media files

We found that the 980 did a good job or upconverting to 720p and 1080p. While we won't say its as good as the Oppo DV-981HD we did notice an improvement over the DV-970HD. If you have a screen bigger than 50 inches and the extra $60 is not an issue for you, we recommend the DV-981HD. That's not to say you will not see an improvement, its just that you will see more of an improvement with the DV-981HD. The player did a good job with the HQV test disc. Where we saw a difference between the 981 and 980 was in the film cadence testing (3:2 Pull Down). To be clear, the 980 did pass all the tests. Its just that the 981, which is our reference standard for upconverting DVD players, did a better job.

When watching regular DVDs it was a bit tougher to tell the difference between the two on a 50 inch screen at 720p. When we moved to the 65 inch 1080p Mitsubishi we noticed a slight increase in digital noise. But not enough for us to write off the 980. We found colors were natural and were more lifelike than a typical DVD player. We noticed that the 980 did a good job with detail, even in darker scenes. From a video point of view the 980 did as well or better than the 970 and for only $20 more its a no brainer.

The DVD player has video controls to help you fine tune the picture. As with all our reviews, we leave the values in the default settings. The player allows you to change Sharpness, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation and Gamma levels. We also want to remind listeners that if the DVD is mastered poorly this player will not turn it into something better. But we found on high quality discs like any Pixar Movie, the Oppo 980 did a spectacular job of upconversion. With upconverting DVD players it is definitely quality in means quality out.

But video is not the only thing this player does. It does a great job with audio. From the Oppo Digital website:

OPPO designed the DV-980H with a focus on precision rendering from Super Audio CD, DVD-Audio, HDCD and regular CDs. Its digital-to-analog (D/A) converters feature 192kHz high sampling rate and 24-bit resolution. The driving stage uses carefully selected op-amps and capacitors. Combining these premium components in an optimized design, the DV-980H reduces quantization distortion and accurately reproduces the analog waveform, resulting in faithful, natural, detailed and rich sound.

We actually pulled out CDs and listened to music. We found that over our HDMI cable the music sounded cleaner, tighter, and more lively. We did a side by side comparison with our AAC and mp3 files, and let us tell you, it blew our high bit rate AACs out of the water. If you like audio you need to consider this device.

Other Things to Consider:
The 980 will decode Dolby Digital EX and output the audio over its analog audio outputs. This may come in handy for you if you have an older receiver without this feature. That is as long as your receiver has 8 analog audio inputs. Unlike the 981 this player has component outputs but it won't upconvert encrypted DVDs through them. The menus are easy to navigate. Note: The preference panel is only accessible if the player is completely stopped. The remote control is basic but has some dedicated keys that will make switching resolution easy. If you opt for a universal remote these commands will need to be mapped to a soft key. The 981 has a universal power supply and supports both NTSC and PAL so you should be able to use this player anywhere in the world. The player can also be made region free with with a code sequence input from your remote so you can watch DVDs from anywhere. It comes with an HDMI cable too!

HT Guys Buying Recommendation
At $170 you can to buy a cheaper DVD player but not one that will support more audio and video formats. The Oppo Digital DV-980H will elevate the viewing experience of your current DVD library. If you want to ride out the next generation DVD format war, this product will help you do it.

Posted by The HT Guys, August 2, 2007 8:10 AM

More in Category: Upconverting DVD Players

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.