Not to be outdone by all the other manufacturers making a mint overcharging for Blu-ray players (PS3 notwithstanding), Denon announced its own Blu-ray player today for the ice-cool price of $1,999. The DVD-3800BDCI will be available this fall.
The at-least-$1,000 premium over current Blu-ray players gets you BD-ROM Profile 1 Version 1.1, which will enable, according to the press release, "simultaneous playback of a secondary audio and video track, which may be used for interactive audio and commentary and for picture-in-picture capability (respectively). Additional information (subtitles, audio streams, camera angles, trailers, games, etc.) can be downloaded from the Internet via computer and stored on an SD card that either player will accept." Translation? Unless you're really into special features, Version 1.1 hardly makes current Blu-ray players seem obsolete. We're still scratching our heads why Denon couldn't include an Ethernet connection, found on players like the Samsung BD-P1200, instead of making you rely on SD cards. Aside from Version 1.1, the new "reference standard" player will include the step-up version of HQV's video processor, known as Realta. Current HQV-equipped units, like the aforementioned Samsung, get the step-down Reon processing, which to our eye works pretty dang well. Realta is said to improve the video quality of Blu-ray discs, and so it may inspire purchases Version 1.1 wouldn't. It's worth mentioning that simultaneous secondary AV track playback, along with an Ethernet port, are standard on all HD DVD players regardless of price.
In terms of audio, the DVD-3800BDCI will internally decode the new higher-quality surround Dolby True HD soundtracks (we're not sure yet if it can also decode DTS Master soundtracks, although the one we photographed was missing the DTS-HD Master logo) and can pass both Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio via bitstream to a compatible receiver like one of Denon's new models, the Onkyo TX-SR605 or Sony STR-DA5300ES, for example. Unfortunately the new Denon Blu-ray player lacks DVD-Audio and SACD playback, which might make it a more-compelling purchase for audiophiles invested in those formats. Speaking of formats, Denon's spokesman was careful to mention that the release of the DVD-3800BDCI didn't necessarily mean the company was an exclusive supporter of Blu-ray, a statement that naturally leaves open the possibility of Denon producing a combo HD DVD/Blu-ray player.