The Bravo D1 DVD player is a leap forward. Unlike other new technologies it does things not only by making them simpler but, at a retail price of $199, also cheaper. The D1 is a brainchild of V Inc. (now Vizio), a company started by a group of people from Princeton Graphics, a name known not only to those who have followed HD televisions, but also computer monitors. Among the first of their products is a pair of plasmas (review forthcoming) and this rather unique player that (surprise, surprise) is made for plasmas.
You see, the D1 is one of the first players to offer a DVI output to digitally link it to a DVI-enabled monitor or projector. The advantage of the DVI connector is that there is no digital to analog conversion at all, minimizing resolution loss and added video noise. Instead, the digital interlaced signal is decoded by the player's MPEG-2 decoder, converted to a progressive scan signal in the digital domain, and transferred as an uncompressed digital stream via the DVI connector to the display device. The D1 with its Sigma Designs integrated chipset takes this one step further by upscaling the picture from 480p to 720p or 1080i. Upscaling is the process by which information is interpolated between existing scan lines to create a higher resolution. In this case, a 720p signal closely matches the native resolution of most HD capable plasmas (and HD fixed-pixel projectors). Although DVI can use the HDCP encryption mechanism to prevent non HDCP enabled devices from accepting signals above 480p, it turns out that the D1 does not need to use HDCP encryption for 720p or 1080i signals, so even those of you that have a display without the latest and greatest monument to the MPAA's paranoia can get the benefits of the upscaled picture.
Unique Features - The Bravo D1 is a rather unassuming DVD player, finished in black (or silver) plastic in the now de rigueur two inch high fashion. The back of the player has coaxial and digital audio outs, composite/S-Video/component video outs, and the all-important DVI output. The front has the disc tray to the left of an LED panel and several player controls. There is a master power switch to the left of the tray, but only the remote can place the player in standby. The open/close key does not power the player on, so if the D1 is in standby the only way to turn it on is via the remote, or by turning the master switch off then on. This was just the first of the quirks that I discovered in the D1. The second was a manual that is minimal at best, missing important information at worst. It took a phone call to find out that you cannot set up the player using the DVI out, as it comes from the factory with the S-Video/composite outputs on, and you must hook one of these up to switch video outputs. The D1 cannot output from multiple video outputs at the same time; you must pick between them in the menu. Although that helped me to get the unit up and running, the shipping company had treated my first review sample too harshly as the display never worked. V Inc., to their credit, was kind enough to replace my review unit immediately, and the new one worked without a problem.
Click to Page 2 for Installation, Evaluation, and the Final Take.