We have to confess that we enjoy getting to play with new Denon gear. We aren't biased (so don't come and hang us from the nearest tree), but there are certain manufacturers who know how to impress even the most fastidious AV fanatic.
This admiration is rooted squarely in previous experience, with therecently thrashing all other £500 home cinema systems by a long distance. The DVD-2910 is a serious investment at £550, but to call it a mere DVD player is like calling a Swiss Army knife a basic cutting utensil. Put any shiny 120mm disc in the tray and the Denon will turn the 1s and 0s within into some of the most sumptuous audio and video you've ever experienced. With high resolution DVD-Audio and SACD playback, it even knows what to do with a Kodak Picture CD or Fujicolor CD.
Add these fantastic features to top of the range HDMI/DVI outputs and traditional RGB Scart/component connections, and you have the most compatible DVD player ever made. You'll probably have to upgrade the rest of your system to make the most of it, but home entertainment doesn't get much better.
The DVD-2910 is expensive, but it looks like it's worth every penny. The badges adorning the disc tray hint at how high-end it is: it's saying, "If I don't support it, it ain't worth having." The build quality is solid, with a brushed aluminium fascia and all the controls you'd need if you ever lost the remote. The DVD tray feels very solid, but it moves in and out with all the urgency of an arthritic tortoise.
Every DVD player on the market offers an RGB Scart connector as standard, but if you've got a flat screen or projector, you require something more sophisticated. The DVD-2910 will satisfy the most demanding user with not only a set of component outputs, but DVI and HDMI as well. That's two separate HDMI and DVI outputs, so whichever flat screen you buy, you know you'll get the very best digital picture possible. You can also use S-video and composite outputs, but with a DVD player this expensive, that would be a travesty. However, RS-232 control really should have been included on such a high-end player -- owners of Crestron and AMX control panels will not be able to control the DVD-2910 centrally.
Audio connectivity is just as impressive. Although you can't plug surround speakers directly into the back of the player, you can send signals to your amplifier either via optical or coaxial digital connectors, or via separate phono connectors for each available channel. This might seem like a less efficient way to hook up to your amp, but it is required to listen to 5.1-channel Super Audio CDs.
The Denon remote favours the more experienced user -- it's absolutely packed with buttons. With the sheer number of features and options on offer, advanced users will be in their element tweaking everything to find the perfect picture. It's a nice touch that the main action buttons glow in the dark (using Denon's 'Glo-Key' technology), but the controller itself is too fat to hold comfortably. You'll need two hands to operate it, which is not ideal.