V, Inc Bravo D2 DVD Player Reviewed

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V_Inc_Bravo_D2_DVD_player.gifThe original V, Inc. (now Vizio) Bravo DI DVD player was the first DVI-equipped DVD player to hit the market. Signaling the relative acceptance (finally!) of a digital connection technology, it not only output a pure, unadulterated signal best matched to today's fixed pixel devices (plasma, DLP, LCD, etc.), but did so without needing HDCP encryption.

It also up-sampled the 480 interlaced signal to 720p or 1080i. Although it produced an absolutely gorgeous picture, it had some flaws that included the fact that it looked and felt cheap. Nevertheless, it was a critical hit as the smooth picture it provided had very little grain or noise to it because it never went through an analog stage.

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Unique Features - Let's take a moment to go over DVI technology. The signal that comes off a DVD is 480 interlaced. Whether it is output as a 480i signal, or run through an internal de-interlacer to make a 480 progressive (480p) signal, it was normally output via an analog connection such as component video. What this means is that the signal quality being fed to your television is only as good as the analog conversion stage of your DVD player. To make matters worse, today's television market is dominated by fixed pixel devices. These devices convert the signal back to the digital domain as they must light up a fixed array of pixels (this is the same as a computer monitor). Due to this conversion of digital to analog back to digital, there is loss of resolution and addition of noise. (The best analog stage that I have seen on a DVD player belongs to the Krell DVD Standard. It is so good that the component video output on that machine is as clean as a whistle, with almost no discernable noise or loss of resolution. Unfortunately, you pay a cool $8,000 for it.)

The DVI connection outputs a signal that is not converted to analog, therefore is not subject to an analog stage. The Bravo D2 reads the 480i signal off the DVD, uses a Sigma Design de-interlacer to convert the signal to 480p (still in the digital domain), and then sends that signal digitally to a television via the DVI connection. If the TV is one of the aforementioned fixed pixel devices, it takes the signal without conversion and displays. Voila! No messy analog conversions!

Now, a year after the D1 came out, the D2 is here to fix some of the problems of the original. What a difference a year makes! The new D2 replaces the boring, black plastic construction with a new silver mirrored face that looks much more attractive. The LCD behind that mirrored panel is a similar blue one, but looks so much better with a pretty face. The remote is also new, and much nicer. It's large, easy to use and glows in the dark.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - The remote has a button on it that fixes one of my main complaints with the D1, namely the need to set it up with a composite or S-Video connection as it came out of the box with the DVI turned off. The TV mode button allows you to switch between 480i/480p/720p/1080i on the fly, therefore making the setup of this unit infinitely easier. One of the original pluses of the D1 has not been left behind, and that is the lack of need for HDCP encryption. The D2 upscales a signal to the native rate of your display whether it be 720p or 1080i, and does this without the need for an HDCP encrypted DVI connection, which the MPAA demanded. Although the benefits of upscaling are not exactly drastic, they provide a slightly better picture and are nice to have.

The back of the player has the pre-requisite connections -- DVI, component out, S-Video, and composite. It has both TosLink and coaxial digital out, and also RCA analog outputs for the left and right channels. This player does not decode DVD-A or SACD.

Click to Page 2 for Setup, Evaluation, and the Final Take.

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