Denon DBP-1611UD Universal Blu Player First Look
- Profile 2.0, BD Live - Profile 5.0 ready (3D - and no, we don't know what happened to Profile 3.0 and 4.0 either)
- BD/DVD/CD, SACD and DVD-Audio playback (MP3, WMA, jpeg and others the same as older models)
- Rigid chassis
- New center drive mechanism
- Netflix and YouTube streaming
- DLNA 1.5 certified
- 1 Gig on-board memory with USB to add more
- DivX HD playback
- Less than 20 seconds from load to play
- New remotes
- 3D ready via fall firmware update
- Full compliment of digital outputs, only 2 channel analogue
- Available July
Let's face it people, there is a dominant force in Blu-ray players. Oppo released their $499 Universal Blu player when others cost multiple thousands of dollars. While in the audio and videophile world Oppo may be a household name, for most of the rest of society, it is somewhat less known. I don't know how many people have asked us for Blu-ray recommendations just to shake their heads in confusion and walk away since they don't recognize the name. This isn't a slam against Oppo - their player is so good others have dropped them into their own chassis and charged 7x's the price. It's just a fact.
Denon, on the other hand, has the name recognition. What they also had was a Universal Blu player that cost more than most of our reader's complete home theater systems. While the player may rock, for the prices they were asking, it was just out of the budget of many of our readers.
Denon recently released their new line of AV Receivers, Headphones, and Blu-ray players. While most of them aren't shipping yet, they will be soon. The entry level Blu-ray player is EXTREMELY interesting to us. Not only does it undercut the Oppo price, but it also adds some functionality.
The Denon DBP-1611UD is the new entry level Blu-ray player from the electronics giant. At $399, not only is it a very affordable player, it's the cheapest Universal player we've ever seen. For those that don't know, a Universal player is one that not only plays DVDs, CDs, and Blu-rays but also DVD-Audio and SACD discs. The last two are high definition music discs that were released after DVDs but before Blu-ray. These discs sport higher bitrates and often multi-channel tracks. If you don't have any, well, maybe you never will. But for those of us that do, having to keep two players around - one for Blu-ray and one for SACD/DVD-A - is annoying. When we upgrade, we don't want to leave a format behind.
The DBP-1611UD has a lot going for it. Not only is it a full universal player, but it is 3D-ready with a planned fall update. The player includes a full GB of on-board memory and a USB port to add more if you need it. Denon has added a new remote to all of their devices and the DBP-1611UD is no different. The Denon DBP-1611UD will be DLNA 1.5 certified which means you'll be able to stream audio, video and photos off your network. For those with DLNA devices will attest, this is a very painless process and one that takes almost no setup on the users part. It is also DivX HD compatible. DivX is a compression format that allows you to maintain the quality of your content while shrinking the file size enough so that you can stream it on a network.
The big announcement, however, is Netflix and YouTube streaming. The Denon DBP-1611UD will support both and we are shocked to find this at such a low price point. We know there are lots of people out there that want to upgrade to Blu-ray but want both Universal playback and Netflix streaming. Now they not only have that option, but it is affordable as well. When comparing the Oppo and the Denon DBP-1611UD, this is the standout difference. In fact, let's do just that:
|BD Live Profile
|VRS by Anchor Bay
| RS232 port
|Netflix and YouTube
| 3D Ready
Glancing up at the above chart, there are a few question marks. We know that the $799 Denon player (the DBP-2011UD) has Anchor Bay video processing so the fact that Denon didn't mention the video processing on the DBP-1611UD is probably telling. At the very least it means it has a no-name processing that probably does only the basics. Both the players have USB ports but there is no indication from Denon that it can be used for streaming content (though it does make sense). On the other hand, there is no indication from Oppo that their UBS port can be used to expand the internal memory (which probably isn't the case). If you don't have an HDMI equipped receiver, the Oppo is the better choice with the 7.1 analogue outputs and the quality video upconversion is definitely a plus. But if you want streaming, a lower price, and are going to connect HDMI to a display that does a decent job of scaling, the Denon is the better choice. While Denon was talking up their HDMI 1.4a connections on their receivers, we're guessing that their Blu-ray players have 1.4 (since that is all they need). We know that HDMI 1.3a (which is what the Oppo has) doesn't support 3D currently but we haven't heard definitively that their won't be some sort of fancy firmware update workaround (hey, the PS3 is getting one, why not the Oppo?)
If you had asked us the day before the Denon press event is anyone was going to challenge Oppo for Blu-ray recommendation dominance, we'd have said "No way." Boy, would we have been wrong. The new Denon DBP-1611UD might not have all the bells and whistles that the Oppo does, but it does sport a lower price, Netflix streaming, and more than enough functionality for the common user. We think this is going to be a huge hit for Denon and expect them to sell these by the boatload (literally). Due to be released in July, if you have been on the fence about Blu-ray, this might be the one that pushes you over.
For more information, please visit www.usa.denon.com.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.