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No, it's not a misprint, the Integra DV-1 really does cost more than two and a half grand, and no it doesn't have a 22-carat gold chassis or diamond encrusted remote, so why is it so expensive?


To begin with, it's dripping with advanced features, like some impressive sounding DVD-Audio processing (Vector Linear Conversion and Apogee Electronics' Master Clock), it has a component video progressive scan output, on-board Dolby Digital decoding and a dual power supply in the shape of a couple of hefty toroidial transformers, contribute to the player's shelf-creaking 11.5kg weight.


Other highlights include a digital bitstream input, enabling the RDV-1 to act as a outboard decoder for other digital sources, it's THX Certified, there's a full set of picture controls, a duplicate set of analogue 5.1 channel outputs on a PC type DB-25 connector, plenty of toys, like variable picture zoom/shrink, chapter digest and strobe plus the remote handset is a multi-brand device. Speaking of which, it's horrible with imprecise and difficult to use cursor/enter button, definitely not the kind of thing you expect to find on a player of this calibre.


It's big as well as heavy but the front panel layout makes good use of the space and the motorised flap covering the loading tray is fun to play with. Unfortunately a set of bright blue lamps around several of the buttons are incredibly distracting, especially in a semi-darkened room and in line of sight of the TV screen.


The rest is all good news, the  picture is razor sharp with near-perfect contrast balance. The Phantom Menace gives the player a very thorough workout, darker scenes --- interior shots of Anakin's home and the Jedi Council chamber -- are brim-full of detail, like, but it's the player's ability to render colours and shades that make you sit up and take notice. Colours and skin tones are vibrant and it faithfully captures subtle graduations in hue and texture. Fast movement is smoothly revealed and it never misses a beat when displaying rapid changes in brightness and explosions, the destruction of the Control Ship towards the end of Phantom Menace looks like it's going to burst out of the screen. Progressive Scan will be a bonus for those with suitably equipped display devices but be aware that it only works on NTSC recordings. Incidentally, whilst our sample had a Region 2 badge, it happily played Region 1 discs, but do not assume that this is a standard configuration.


Dolby Digital processing is immaculate with each channel crisply defined; effects big and small are sharply focused and there's only a trace of background hiss on the 5.1 and analogue stereo outputs. The bitstream outputs are there if you need them though few mid-range decoders are going to be able to match its clarity and precision.  Audio CDs benefit from the high-end processing and the heavy-duty power supplies undoubtedly contribute to the pin sharp sound. 


Our limited repertoire of DVD test test recordings have all become rather familiar, nevertheless the RDV-1 still manages to impress. It creates a sharply defined soundstage revealing an impressive depth and clarity that handles intricate classical and raunchy jazz with equal finesse. It's hard to say without a side-by-side comparison but the initial reaction is that it's the best DVD-A player we've heard to date. 


AV performance is excellent but itís not unique and we have seen its like before on players costing considerably less than this one. DVD-Audio is a revelation though, and the RDV-1 turns in what could turn out to be a benchmark performance. So is it worth it? It's a close call but if DVD-Audio is your prime consideration then it's a guarded yes, however, if you're mostly interested in video playback then it's worth bearing in mind you don't have to spend anything like that much for the same kind of performance. 


Verdict 4/5


Onkyo 01788 556777, www.onkyo.net



Overall              4

Picture Quality            5

Sound Quality            5

Features                       5

Ease of Use                  3

Build Quality                  5

Value for Money            3



Outstanding picture, excellent sound and superbly well equipped  



Rich kids only, really annoying blue lights and for that money you'd expect a better remote


Rival Buys



'Ö the destruction of the Control Ship towards the end of Phantom Menace looks like it's about to burst out of the screen'





£                                  £2,700

VERDICT                      4


COMMENTS            top notch performance, and DVD-Audio is a bonus, but at a priceÖ

TYPE                            DVD/DVD-A

5.1 OUT                        Y

OUTPUT                       DD/Dig

COMPíNT VID            Y

SCARTS                       1





R. Maybury 2001, 1810


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