HOME > OPPO Digital DV-970HD DVD Player Review
George Graves, June 20, 2006
After the critical success of OPPO's previous offering, the OPDV971H 1080i upconverting DVD player, one would think that this forward-thinking and innovative company would be content to rest on their considerable laurels for a bit. But no, today, we received from OPPO Digital, a new player dubbed the DV-970HD. This player differs from OPPO's earlier offering in a number of ways, not the least of which is price. The earlier unit (OPDV971H) remains in OPPO's catalogue and is still priced at $199, while the new player, the DV-970HD is $50 cheaper at $149.
Like its more expensive sibling, the OPPO DV-970HD will play many different disc formats including normal DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, Audio CD, HDCD, Certified DivX, Xvid, and Kodak Picture CD, but unlike the OPDV971H, this unit will also support Super Audio CD (SACD),. OPPO also handles CD-R/RW in DVD +/-R/RW and DVD +R DL.
In addition to composite and S-VHS (YC), OPPO also supports ATSC 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and PAL 576i, 576p, 720p and 1080i through both component (PbPrY), with the limitations noted above, and HDMI. A 2-meter HDMI cable is included with the unit.
Sound support for the DV-970HD is impressive for such an inexpensive player. It supports 5.1 channels of analog audio out, as well as, mixed-down stereo analog audio. Digital audio is output through both a coaxial SPDIF and an optical TOSLINK and via the HDMI cable.
All your digital slides, regardless of resolution, are output at 725 x 480 resolution. A zoom feature allows you to enlarge them; however, you will see the best results in the default resolution. In slide show the unit delivers an image about every 2 seconds and there is no way to vary the interval between "slides" other than operating manually. OPPO has also given the unit a myriad of "wipe" modes for transitioning from one slide to the next. The DV-970HD will wipe vertically from top to bottom, bottom to top, right to left and vise-versa, as well as diagonally from all four corners. The ability to view digital pictures on your TV is a convenient way to share those digital snapshots with others. Image quality,of course, depends on the resolution and quality of your camera.
Although the specs don't mention it and the manual merely alludes to it, it seems that MP3 music files stored on memory cards will also play on the DV-970HD via the card reader or the USB connection.
However, one of the key features of the DV-970HD is its ability to transport a 480i signal through the HDMI connection. This feature is not available on the OPDV971H, or other Faroudja based DVD players. 480i transport through a digital connection allows you to use either an external processor or television that has either the Faroudja DCDi or equivalent capability; thereby, ensuring image quality comparable to the highly acclaimed OPDV971H. In essence, you don't pay for the same solution twice.
The OPPO DV-970HD has some audio features that are well worth mentioning, however. First and foremost is the ability of this player to play SACD or Super Audio CDs. These discs use a different type of encoding than do normal CDs and many people find that they are much better than regular CD. They have a much wider frequency response than do normal audio CDs and can have as many as six discrete, full-fidelity channels without compression or PCM artifacts.
Until lately, these SACD discs required extremely expensive players and most of them would play only SACD and regular CD. The OPPO DV-970HD is a true combo player. Not only will it play SACD but it will also play DVD-Audio in all formats as well as standard CD. It will also decode the high-end HDCD format, which is quite rare. Another feature of the OPPO is the ability to defeat the video circuitry in this player when using it to listen to music. This makes the OPPO DV-970HD an ideal player for the audiophile as well as the home theater buff. At this price, most audiophiles will want to add a OPPO DV-970HD to their stereos even if they don't ever use it for video!
The main drawback of this player is its lack of DCDi processing by Faroudja; however, if your HDTV has DCDi or equivalent processing, you're paying for the same technology twice. By eliminating it, OPPO has brought down the cost of the DVD player while adding significant functionality. This player is a great deal for its versatility alone, and for those that already own an HDTV with DCDi or equivalent processing, this is a clear winner in both price and performance.
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[Correction: This article has been modified from its original posting to clarify the merit of DCDi in peripherals versus HDTVs and to clarify features and performance.]