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Denon's cheaper Blu-ray player is still expensive

The company announces a new Blu-ray player, the DVD-1800BD, but its relatively high price tag and limited feature set will likely keep buyers away.

The biggest knock against Blu-ray from the beginning has been price, but that hasn't stopped manufacturers from releasing new, expensive Blu-ray players. Although Denon's new Blu-ray player, the DVD-1800BD, is the least-expensive model in the company's line, its $750 price tag means only serious home theater enthusiasts will be giving it a look. The press release was light on details--there's not even a picture yet--but here's what we know so far:

Key features of the Denon DVD-1800BD:

  • Blu-ray Profile 1.1 (Bonus View)
  • Can output Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio in bit stream format
  • Lacks onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
  • Dedicated stereo analog output
  • $750 list price, available in October

The $750 price tag might seem high, but it's in line with other upcoming premium Blu-ray players, such as the Panasonic DMP-BD50 ($700) and the Pioneer BDP-51FD ($600). That being said, the DVD-1800BD seems light on features comparatively. The DMP-BD50 will offer Blu-ray Profile 2.0 support and the ability to decode high-resolution soundtracks such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The BDP-51FD will only be Profile 1.1 compliant, but will offer Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding after a firmware update. Plus, it will feature 7.1 analog outputs and cost $150 less.

Furthermore, the de facto question for all new Blu-ray players is, what does it offer over the PlayStation 3? From the initial press release, it looks like not much. We're assuming the DVD-1800BD has at least 5.1 analog outputs--although the press release only mentions a dedicated stereo output--but even this doesn't add much since the lack of onboard decoding limits analog audio output to standard Dolby Digital and DTS. The one advantage the DVD-1800BD may have over the PS3 is with DVD upconversion, but we figure most viewers will find the PS3's upconverting capabilities to be "good enough." With the PS3, you get full Blu-ray Profile 2.0 support, superfast load times, excellent image quality, media streaming capabilities, and high-def gaming--for $400. We haven't tested the DVD-1800BD, so we'll save our final judgement, but unless you have a good reason not to get a PS3, the DVD-1800BD doesn't seem to offer much for its price premium.