Blu-ray Players

Denon DVD-1800BD Blu-ray Player - Benchmark


Feature Set

The Denon does not break any new ground in regards to its feature set. The unit is merely “Bonus View” (profile 1.1) compliant, not “Live View” (profile 2.0) compliant and it does not have the LAN jack or memory to support a firmware upgrade to “Live View.” There are no capabilities for Netflix or Pandora video streaming either. However, Denon has done very well in the disc compatibility arena. The unit supports BD-video, BD-RE (version 2.1), BD-R, DVD-R, DVD-R DL, DVD-RW, CD-DA, CD-RW, CD-R, Kodak Picture CD, and DTS CDs. The 1800 also supports MP3, Windows Media™, and JPEG on either CD/DVD or via the front panel SD card reader slot. DivX media is supported on either CD or DVD only. HDMI CEC control is included to assist in controlling other CEC equipped devices.

One item I must give Denon serious kudos for is the inclusion of multiple video adjustment options, including Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Gamma Correction, Color, Black Level (component output only), and Noise Reduction (component output only). With so many of today’s consumers taking advantage of the video switching capabilities of their new receivers and pre-processors, the ability to tailor the output of a source device can be a very useful feature. As most receivers lack the ability to adjust the multiple incoming video sources before outputting them to the display device over a single HDMI or component video output, the user winds up having to calibrate their display for only one of their sources, with the rest being forced to make do with less than perfect calibration.

The 1800BD also allows the user to select either YPbPr or RGB for HDMI output, with two separate output options for RGB; 16-235 or “Enhanced” 0-246. Depending upon your display, this may help you get a better rendition of black and white. Most users will be able to leave all of these settings at their default levels, but for the more advanced “tweaker” it may help eek out a slightly better image. The 1800 supports 24fps output on 1080P sources provided that the source was recorded at 24fps, otherwise 60fps is output. HDMI “Deep Color” is also supported as long as the display can handle it, though there is still no Deep Color source material available.

Audio capabilities are pretty robust for those of you with HDMI equipped receivers/pre-processors. Since the 1800 does not include a 5.1/7.1 analog output, only consumers with newer surround processors with built in Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding can take full advantage of the Next Gen lossless soundtracks. This is done in the menu by setting the 1800BD to “HD Audio Output” which selects the bitstream format. If you wish to hear the built-in menu sound effects or a secondary audio stream from “Bonus View” content on BD, you set the 1800BD to “Mix Audio Output” in the audio portion of the menu system. Doing this prevents listening of TrueHD or DTS-Master soundtracks at their true resolution though so you'll want to switch back if you are intending on listening with maximum capability.

The1800BD lacks internal decoding for TrueHD and DTS-Master Audio however, you could have the player output everything as LPCM to get around this limitation. If your processor is a little bit older (HDMI 1.1 or higher), the Denon can transpose TrueHD or DTS-HD to LPCM, provided that your receiver/processor can handle a high bit-rate LPCM stream. Otherwise, the Denon can be set to output the lower bit-rate “core” streams via the player’s coaxial digital audio output. If you wish to do this, don’t forget to set the “HDMI Audio Out” setting in the menu to “Mute” and then change the “Digital Out” setting to “Bitstream” in order to activate the Co-axial digital output.

If all of this sounds a bit confusing, it is. Denon’s instructions don’t make clarifying this much easier, as the explanations for the three different audio output settings are found strewn across the manual in multiple locations. It took quite a bit of reading, re-reading, and trial and error to figure out exactly how all of this worked. As I had the 1800 hooked up to the Marantz SR6003, I simply set the BD Audio mode to “HD Audio Output” and the HDMI Audio Out to “HDMI Multi,” which bitstreamed all audio formats at their native resolution and let the Marantz handle the decoding.