If you have a big DVD collection -- or you simply can't be bothered with the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray battle that's sending some movie fans potty -- then why not wait and enjoy your existing film collection for a bit longer without worrying about becoming obsolete?
For around £175, the Oppo DV-981HD aims to get the very best possible picture quality out of your current DVDs, plus adding more handy features into the mix that should keep you happy for a while longer.
First of all, we're impressed by the packaging the Oppo comes in. You get an outer, brown cardboard box that protects an inner box. The DVD player itself sits within a dust-repelling fabric sleeve within the box. This might sound like an environmental catastrophe, but the chances are you won't throw this packaging away, using it to move the player around when need be.
However you look at it, the Oppo must get points for presentation. This is a premium player, so it's not unreasonable for the company to do a good job with the boxes.
When you get the DVD player out, you'll notice that it's sturdy, stylish and compact. The front panel has a simple display, slimline disc tray and a few controls such as disc eject, play/pause and stop.
We were also thrilled to discover that the Oppo comes with an HDMI cable, and what's more, it's one of the nicest and sturdiest 'free' cables we're ever laid eyes on. Oppo should be congratulated for this, as it's a great addition the package.
To the rear you've got the outputs -- there are HDMI, composite and S-video outputs but component is conspicuously absent. You'll also find 5.1 analogue audio outputs, and both coaxial and optical digital out.
The supplied remote control is fairly ugly, but does glow in the dark quite enthusiastically, which is helpful for the home theatre buffs. There's only one problem -- some of the buttons have their functions written above them, not on the key, which means you can't see what those controls do in the dark. Not a major issue, but a shame nonetheless.
As you might expect for a modern DVD player, the 981HD is happy playing DivX and MPEG-4 encoded material. This is a nice bonus that we always like to see on DVD players. We tested a number of files, and all played without any hassle.
The Oppo will also play both high definition audio formats, SACD and DVD-A. So if you want to take advantage of very high quality music, then this is no doubt a welcome addition.
The menu system that drives the 981HD is comprehensive, if a little ugly. It's quite obvious they've spent considerably less time working on the menus than the exterior of the player and the packaging. That said, you probably won't spend huge amounts of time using the menus anyway.