Integra THX Certified DBS-50.2 Blu-ray Player First Look
AUDIO & VIDEO FEATURES
With the glut of Blu-ray players on the market, manufacturers really have their work cut out for them to differentiate their products from the field. The easiest way to do so it to be the lowest price. But only one can be the lowest price (and frankly, we don't think giving up essential features in favor of price is the way to go) so what you need is a very positive price to performance ratio. Name recognition is a good first step - it gets the consumers to look at your box. But if the features and the price don't match up (of if the price seems high for the features offered), then they'll move on. Integra is hoping their new, flagship THX Certified DBS-50.2 has the goods.
First, let's start with price. At $700 MSRP, the DBS-50.2 certainly isn't breaking the bank. A few years ago it would be considered one of the cheapest on the market. Obviously, the THX certification is part of Integra's overall marketing strategy. According to THX:
The THX test bench evaluates color and black levels and video processing to make sure Blu-ray players accurately reproduce the highest resolutions without introducing distracting artifacts, jaggies and video noise. And, THX certification ensures every audio format and technology is tested to make sure your surround sound experience can be reproduced with the fidelity of the original studio mix.
Of course, when we pressed THX, they admitted:
The major focus of the THX Certified Blu-ray Disc Player certification is on video performance. THX engineers conduct in-depth analysis of image quality and signal processing to ensure Blu-ray disc players present accurate color, contrast, and black/white levels without softening the picture or producing digital artifacts. The testing is rigorous, precise and few players can meet our specification. Generally, we believe that the Blu-ray player will be connected via HDMI to an AV Receiver and Display in the home theater chain, eliminating the need to use analog interconnects.
Which suggests that their audio evaluation is cursory at best. Regardless, consumers see the THX certification on the Integra DBS-50.2 and will associate it with quality. Honestly, the DBS-50.2 is fully of quality components. It has upscaling to 1080p via Marvell Qdeo chipset (the same one slated for the new Oppo BDP-93 BD player) with compatibility with almost all (BD-Video, BD-R ver. 2.0, BD-RE ver. 3.0, BD-ROM, DVD Video, DVD Video DL, DVD-R/RW, DVD-R DL, Audio CD, CD-R/RW) disc types on the market. There is front mounted SD/SDHC Memory Card Slot for Media Content, 1080p/24 Video Output for Full-HD Movie, 297 MHz/12-Bit Video DACs, and 192 kHz/24-Bit Audio DACs.
Of course the DBS-50.2 is BD-Live Profile 2.0 for downloading and accessing online content as well as DLNA 1.5 certified for streaming content from your networked devices (AVCHD, WMA, JPEG, and MP3. The Integra can also stream Netflix, CinemaNOW, and Blockbuster on Demand natively. For integrating with legacy receivers and amps, the DBS-50.2 has 7.1 channel outputs and can natively decode all the major HD audio formats including DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD. One thing we really like about the player is that all the outputs are active simultaneously. While most consumers are only using one, custom installers may find this a huge plus.
The real question, however, is 3D. The Integra DBS-50.2 sports HDMI Version 1.3a outputs which supports 1080p, Deep Color, x.v.Color, and CEC. HDMI 1.4 is needed for 3D and other newer HDMI functionality. Will consumers want to spend $700 on a player that won't be 3D compatible when they can spend less on a PS3? With focus on functionality and quality (audio, digital video, and analog video circuits are physically isolated from each other), not to mention not having to deal with using a console as a player... maybe.
The THX Certified Integra DBS-50.2 has a lot of features consumers and custom installers like to see in the Blu-ray player at a low $700 price tag. With HDMI 1.3a, physically separated circuits, Marvell Qdeo upscaling and quality components, there is little not to like. While some consumers will wonder at the lack of 3D support, others won't care. While we would have liked to have seen SACD and DVD-A support, we recognized that we are in the minority. With DLNA 1.5 and THX certification, integrated Netflix, CinemaNOW, and Blockbuster streaming, and 297 MHz/12-Bit Video, 192 kHz/24-Bit Audio DACs, and 7.1 channel analogue outputs, there is something for everyone. If you are looking for something a little cheaper, Integra has also announced the DBS-30.2 with a similar feature set without the Marvell Qdeo upscaling (still upscales but uses a different chipset) and 7.1 analogue outputs for $500.
For more information, please visit www.integrahometheater.com.
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