Samsung's DVD-HD860 is essentially aimed at owners of high-definition displays who want to maximize the performance of their existing DVD collection. The player features an integrated video scaler that converts ordinary DVD films to high-definition quality 720p or 1080i standards. This doesn't give you true high-definition performance because it's derived from ordinary content -- but it comes close.
At this price there aren't many entry-level players that afford this specification and an attractive design, easy-to-use features and outstanding performance, meaning the HD860 is a bargain waiting to be bought.
For the price, the design and specification of this player is extremely impressive. Even in the company of a far more expensive flat screen the discreet design and minimal styling doesn't look out of place, or let slip its budget price tag.
The compact unit is typically slim and shallow enough to be mistaken for a set-top box. The front panel has been kept attractively clean using a single circular control for all playback functions with only one visible button for selecting the video output mode. The contrasting black and silver styling will complement most modern displays.
Rear panel connectivity looks limited, but offers all the output options you'll need for any screen scenario. If you want to make the most of the player's upscaling ability, you'll need a high-definition display with compatible HDMI connectivity. HDMI is a digital only interface that carries both video and audio signals in a single cable. Unlike analogue connections, there's no need for any conversion to get improved performance. You can use HDMI to send upscaled images from standard DVDs, which appear close to high-definition quality on screen.
Conventional screen users haven't been ignored with both a ubiquitous Scart terminal and component outputs also featured in the arrangement. Although you won't be able to play upscaled images using these connections, the component outputs support progressive scan, which reduces screen flicker for a smoother picture. The Scart has been RGB-enabled for the best possible performance from a standard connection.
There is also a choice of optical or coaxial audio outputs, which can carry Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks to an external home-cinema amplifier used in surround-sound set-ups.
The small remote is attractively tapered and features similar styling to the player. There isn't much space between keys, but the compact design is more comfortable to use than most -- even if it is easily lost down the side of the sofa.