BRAVO D2 DVI Enabled Digital Media Player
V Inc. is a relatively new company that is based in Costa Mesa, California. They are known by many home theater enthusiasts primarily for their DVI capable Bravo D1 DVD player that received high praise from the media last year. They have now entered the consumer electronics market with a wide range of new products that include not only DVD players, but LCD and Plasma displays, a high-definition receiver and the recently announced VIZIO RP56 (an HD2 DLP Rear-screen Projection TV). We obtained a review unit of the new BRAVO D2 DVD player, which is an update from their previous D1 model. Unlike the majority of DVD players currently on the market, the D2 includes a DVI output that enables the DVD player to send out video digitally to a display. This allows the video processing (including deinterlacing and scaling) to be performed completely in the digital domain, eliminating potential conversion errors that often occur with conventional analog output only players. In addition, many digital displays and projectors prefer to never see the video in analog form. The DVI output supports 480p (720x480), 852x480, 720p (1280x720) and 1080i (1920x1080). Custom DVI resolution and timing is also possible with a special adjustment screen. In addition to supporting DVD-Video, the Bravo D2 also handles MPEG-4 AVI movies, SVCD, VCD, CD-R/RW, MP3 and JPEG images. Neither SACD nor DVD-Audio is supported with this player.
The looks of the Bravo D2 is attractive with a silver finish and a display hidden behind a highly reflective (mirror-like) front panel. It appears hidden much like one-way glass when the display is off, but can be seen when the unit powers up. The power button is located on the left side and the DVD control buttons are located on the right. Each of the six control buttons have a blue illumination behind them giving the unit a nice visual appeal. Build quality is not extraordinary, but then again neither is the $250 MSRP for this player.
Unlike the earlier Bravo D1, the D2 now includes picture controls for brightness, contrast and color saturation. The Bravo D2 also features picture zoom controls, MPEG-4, JPEG, DVD-R/+R CD, CD-R/RW, and Kodak Picture CD playback as well as PCM, DTS and Dolby Digital audio pass-through on its toslink and coaxial digital outputs.
The Bravo D2 firmware can be easily upgraded by the user. By simply downloading the latest file from the V Inc. website and burning a CD with the ISO image, the user can now benefit from the latest update immediately. We received the D2 and soon noticed an update was available for the player at the V Inc. website. We proceeded to update the player from version 1.1.9 to version 1.1.10 and noticed a bug having to do with losing memory settings during power off had been fixed. This is a great capability for any consumer product.
Navigating through the menus on the D2 is a simple task. There are three sets of user menus on the D2 setup screen; Initial Setting, Video Setting, and Audio Setting. Note that changing Video Setting may result in picture loss if you happen to disable the output you are currently viewing. Don't forget to use the TV Mode button if this should occur.
The Video Setting menu controls the three sets of video outputs. The HD DVI Out submenu selects from 480p, 720p, 1080i, 852x480 and Off. The allows for 1:1 pixel mapping with compatible displays for improved picture quality. The HD YPbPr Out submenu select from 480p, 720p, 1080i and Off. The 720p and 1080i modes only work with non-protected content when using the analog component outputs. The TV Out submenu defines whether the composite/s-video outputs are active or the component video output are active. Enabling the DVI or component outputs will turn off the composite/s-video outputs.
The Audio Setting menu controls the analog and digital outputs on the player. The Analog/DPCM setting turns on the analog outputs. The Encoded Digital setting sends out Dolby Digital or DTS bitstreams to an outboard processor or receiver.
The Bravo D2 also includes a DVI Custom Setting screen so that users can adjust the DVI parameters for their particular display. This feature offers flexibility for different display products. Once the parameters are entered, the data is stored in the unit's memory. However, the parameter settings are not intuitive and may require that the user contect V Inc. technical support for specific display information.
The DVI interface uses the proven Silicon Image PanelLink® SiI 164 transmitter chip to send digital data over the connected cable. This chip is responsible for providing the four TMDS differential pair link to the display. Fortunately, this device has been around for some time now and has been widely used in PC related products.
As expected, the DVI performance was excellent and should really be the primary reason for looking at this player. The DVI interface resulted in a very clean and noise free picture. The advantages of using a pure digital interface became apparent when watching movies on the Bravo D2. As an option, users can choose to run the D2 in 480p and have the projector or display do the scaling. This decision will be largely based on the video performance of the display device. Some may or may not see an improvement, but in either case the video still remains completely digital using the DVI interface. Deinterlacing was good thanks to the 3:2 pulldown detection and has many of the positive attributes one might expect. The scaling was also top notch with smooth contours and no objectionable jagged edges. Colors were nicely saturated creating natural looking fleshtones. We didn't see any problems related to Y/C delay with this player, which is good since there are no adjustments for such errors. Animated features such as Monsters Inc. and Toy Story rendered beautiful images on the screen with excellent detail.
Even though this player can send video data digitally to the display, it is limited to the quality of the processing electronics. While we feel the deinterlacing and scaling are very good, it is certainly challenged by others such as Faroudja's DCDi and DVDO's iScan processors. Merely keeping data in the digital domain doesn't equate to a perfect picture as there are other factors that affect picture quality. However, the advantages of DVI were apparent and the player has the benefit of sending unscaled 480p DVI video to a display or projector that possibly has better scaling abilities.
Audio performance was on par with other products in this price range. We didn't focus much on the analog outputs as most users will most likely be using an outboard processor or receiver. The digital audio interface to our Parasound AVC-2500u resulted in excellent sound quality. However, there were annoying "clicks" that we heard when skipping through chapters. This only occurred when chapters were manually changed and didn't come into play during continuous viewing of a DVD. We are not sure if this is a problem for all players and processors, but we heard it on our Parasound AVC-2500u.
- Kevin Nakano
High-Definition LCD Projector
|Review - At a Glance|
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