Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - I set the DVI output to 720p, and hooked up the player using a Monster Cable DVI cable to a 50" Fujitsu plasma. The DI. was plugged into the HTPS7000 power conditioner, with a coaxial audio output to my Krell HTS 7.1 Standard processor. The rest of the system included the Parasound Halo A51 amp, Krell DVD Standard, and KEF 207/204c/201/Rel Strata III speakers.
A word on the remote, as it has the comprehensive control set for the D1. The buttons are laid out rather poorly, as the transport controls are small and on the bottom, while the navigation keys are larger and on top. None of these are backlit. The labeling is grey on black which makes it difficult to read during the day, and impossible to read with the lights dimmed. Fortunately, I understand that new versions of the remote have a white background which should make this job infinitely easier.
Final Take - When I had finally hooked up the D1, I popped in a DVD, and began my first experience with DVI. I was immediately stunned. The picture quality was excellent--clean and detailed. Video noise was very low and black level was quite good, creating not only a smooth picture, but also a sense of depth. Deinterlacing with the Sigma Designs chipset is the weak point of this player. It is mainly a flag-reading player, and certain DVDs do trip it up, so occasional combing can be seen. It's a bit confusing when you're sitting there staring at the jaw-dropping clarity and you cannot decide whether you should really be annoyed by that artifact you just saw. I guess it's probably going to be hard to complain until someone brings out a player with such a well implemented DVI output and a great de-interlacing chipset. Who knows, at this rate it may well be V Inc.
The MPEG decoder does not have the chroma bug. Don't bother wasting your time with the component outputs as the picture is soft, and the S-Video output has considerably more grain. No, the real reason to own this player is the DVI output, and it certainly does work well. I tried the 1080i setting, and this looked very similar to the 720p. Both looked sharper and more detailed than the 480p setting, which is exactly what the upscaling is trying to achieve.
The picture quality is so good because there are no digital to analog conversions in the chain. This is what leads to that clean, crisp picture quality, and the cleanliness of the picture rivals many of the best players out there. For those with fixed pixel digital devices such as plasma, LCD and DLP, there is no conversion to analog until the one reaching your eyes. This is very different from a normal DVD player with component output, as the picture is converted to analog within the player. The clarity of this output is dependant on the quality of the analog stage of the player. You can have the player do everything perfectly in regards to de-interlacing, chroma bug, etc., yet the picture may be soft or grainy from the analog stage. If using a fixed-pixel device, the analog input would then be reconverted back to the digital domain. These conversions cause loss of information and resolution, and the DVI output (which keeps all the information in the digital domain) avoids this. Essentially, there is no analog stage to muck up the picture. (This, of course, assumes that the DVI output is implemented well.)
Aspect ratio control for 4:3 discs is handled via a zoom button which makes the image fit in a 16:9 screen. Personally, I have never been all that fond of zooming 4:3 material--I prefer a stretch mode. The D1 player has the standard goodies such as a subtitle toggle switch, parental protection, and a reasonably quick layer change.
It still boggles my mind that V Inc. has put out a player that has a DVI output and upscales for $199. This is so cheap that every plasma/DLP/LCD owner should have one. There are some downsides to this unit, however. I do not understand why all the video outputs can't be turned on as in most DVD players, why the manual misses so many details, and a better de-interlacing chipset would really be nice. You certainly will not feel that it is built like a Krell, but once it's playing movies, who cares what it looks or feels like? The very fact that it can put out such a clean picture via the DVI port makes this an exceptionally unique unit. I can live with the quirks for this level of picture quality and, judging by the Dl's ambitious nature, something tells me that the folks over at V Inc. are going to be an interesting bunch to watch.
Bravo D1 DVD Player
Dimensions: 2.5H" x 17"W x11"D
Media Supported: DVD-Video, SVCD,
VCD, DVD-R, DVD+R, CD, CD-R, CD-RW,
MP3, MPEG-4 AVI files, Kodak Picture CD
Video Outputs: Composite, S-Video,
Analog YPbPr video, and digital DVI (Progressive
or Interlaced) scalable up to 1920 x 1080i or
1280 x 720p resolutions
Analog Outputs: Stereo analog, TosLink,