2003 Sound & Vision Reviewer's Choice Awards Page 8

V Inc. Bravo D1 DVD Player v inc reviewers choice Photo by Tony Cordoza (original review, May) Sometimes something as seemingly insignificant as a connector can signify a substantial change in the way things are done. Right on the front panel of V Inc.'s Bravo D1 DVD player is printed, in tiny letters, "DVI enabled." The D1 was the first player we tested with a DVI connector, and that breakthrough earns it a Reviewer's Choice award. A DVI output is to video what the optical and coaxial digital outputs on a CD player are to audio - a way to get digital information, in this case digital video, out of a player without interim conversion to analog form. This is becoming important with the surge in popularity of fixed-pixel displays (plasma, LCD, LCoS, and DLP), which actually "prefer" a digital video signal, since otherwise they'd have to perform an analog-to-digital conversion to process the picture for display. With the Bravo D1 connected to an HDTV monitor using a DVI link, the picture quality was as good as I've seen out of a DVD player, combining excellent resolution and color fidelity with an absence of progressive-scan conversion artifacts. Not bad for $199. V, Inc. www.vinc.us, 714-962-4848

- David Ranada

Kenwood VR-7080Digital Surround Receiver kenwood vr-7080 Photo by Tony Cordoza (original review, November) Kenwood's trim, affordable 6.1-channel A/V receiver ($600) caught my eye and ear alike. I like its simple, retro silver front panel and logical layout of controls and knobs, and I love its blue-glowing, touch-membrane remote control. This is one of the best solutions to the problem of how to get enough controls onto a single system remote without overwhelming the user with a forest of buttons, displays, "pages," and "soft" keys. Better yet, it requires little practice or study to use. The receiver provides plenty of power and very good performance in Dolby Digital EX or DTS-ES 6.1-channel playback and other core home theater audio tasks. It includes THX Surround EX processing, which can be used on top of the other modes. Also worth a listen is SRS Circle Surround II, an entertaining (and usually more aggressively enveloping) alternative to Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 for 5.1- or 6.1-channel playback of stereo and other program sources. All the surround modes are adjustable, and it's this flexibility together with its very reasonable price - and that great remote! - that make the VR-7080 a winner. Kenwood www.kenwoodusa.com, 800-536-9663

- Daniel Kumin

Hitachi 57T500 57-inch HDTV Monitorhitachi 57T500 (original review, December) Although its exterior fits the old-school mold of "boxy big-screen," Hitachi's 57T500 rear-projection set ($3,499) has some New Age options under the hood. An extensive array of adjustments allows tech-inclined users to achieve extremely accurate color and other picture settings without having to hire a professional, though its default settings are accurate enough that you won't be shortchanged if you use it as is right out of the box. Because ambient light in your home theater has a huge impact on image quality, each of the 57T500's inputs is automatically associated with two custom picture presets, one designated for nighttime viewing and the other for watching during the day. Hitachi also threw in a system to control other home theater components via the set's remote and a simple onscreen interface. All this powerful customization is nonetheless quite easy to set up and use, which helps justify the 57T500's slightly higher than average list price. If you don't mind living with CRT technology for a little while longer, this big-screen TV will deliver a topnotch picture. Hitachi www.hitachi.com/tv, 800-448-2244

- David Katzmaier

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