Denon DBP-4010UDCI Blu-ray Player
A Chip Off the Flagship’s Block?
Denon turned the Blu-ray world on end when it introduced the $4,500 DVD-A1UDCI universal Blu-ray player (HT, October 2009). At 41 pounds, that player is overbuilt for an A/V receiver. It played all past and current high-end audio and video formats and offered astonishing pure audio and video performance and the most impressive host of performance-enhancing features we’ve yet seen on a Blu-ray player. But ergonomically, it was sluggish loading and playing Blu-ray Discs. When you consider that, along with the hefty price tag and the superlative performance we’ve seen from lower-priced players, Denon’s flagship rated too low on the value scale to earn an unqualified Home Theater Top Pick. Now comes Denon’s DBP-4010UDCI, another universal Blu-ray Disc player. This player has an impressive number of performance-oriented features, and at $1,999, it’s less than half the flagship’s price. So, at this lower price point, is this Denon a solid choice in a high-end-priced player?
Like the Flagship
It’s worth noting that this is another ground-up design from Denon, not an OEM based on another company’s platform. Although it’s not the 41-pound tank its big brother is, the 22pound-plus DBP-4010UDCI is substantial. Best of all, you can set the front-panel display to remain off, only turning on when the player receives a remote command. It’s perfect for a darkened theater environment. The disc tray is solid and quiet in operation. This player’s physical presence says high-end build quality all the way.
Like the flagship player, the DBP-4010UDCI supports a range of legacy formats, including CD, DVD, SACD, and DVD-Audio. Of perhaps greater use to today’s consumer, the DBP-4010UDCI can also play back files in MP3, WMA, DIVX, and AVCHD formats. The DBP-4010UDCI is also fully equipped to dish out all the lossless audio Blu-ray has to offer. It can decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio and convert them to PCM over HDMI or to multichannel analog. (The DBP-4010UDCI is equipped with full 7.1-channel analog outputs.) It can also transmit both formats as raw bitstreams, but remember that you lose secondary audio for menu sounds, PiP, and other interactivity features.
Speaking of interactivity, this Denon is compatible with BonusView PiP features and BD-Live. Like its predecessor, it doesn’t include any local storage, so you’ll have to shell out a few extra bucks for an SD card. That’s not a huge deal, especially given how generally unimpressed we are with BDLive so far. But that’s still chintzy for a player in this price range.
Some (not all) of the flagship’s performance features are also found here. When connected to a Denon A/V receiver or surround processor, the DENON LINK 4 connection is claimed to eliminate jitter. Since I didn’t have any more Denon in my system’s front end, I didn’t test this feature. Audiophiles can configure a Pure Direct mode that leaves the analog outputs active and shuts down the digital audio and all video outputs, as well as the front-panel display. The DBP-4010UDCI also includes processing for constant-height front projection. Tweakers can select Y/Cb/Cr or two flavors of RGB color space output. They can also enable Deep Color upconversion, which increases the video output’s bit depth over HDMI 1.3a. This doesn’t increase the video signal’s actual resolution, but it lets the Denon’s video processing maintain full bit depth at output. Many premium videoprocessing solutions operate at 10-bit depth or higher. If Deep Color output isn’t engaged, the video processor would downconvert video signals back to 8 bits at the HDMI output. We haven’t seen conclusive evidence that engaging Deep Color output improves picture quality, but it doesn’t hurt. FWIW, this player uses HDMI 1.3a and isn’t 3D capable or upgradeable.