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Samsung DVD-HD931 review: Samsung DVD-HD931

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We were disappointed to find that the DVI output has no proper aspect-ratio control. The player's zoom can't correctly resize images from nonanamorphic wide-screen or 4:3 DVDs, so those movies appear cropped or horizontally stretched, and all the actors look short and fat. Sets that can resize DVI material themselves don't have this problem.

Aside from the DVI connection, the HD931 has the features of an entry-level DVD player. It handles MP3 and JPEG discs, and its full set of A/V outputs includes both optical and coaxial digital jacks.

To compare the HD931 directly with the V Bravo D1, we set each deck's DVI output to 720p and watched films on Samsung's own DLP-based HLN617W, calibrating the TV to accommodate the players' slight differences. Comparing the arena scene from Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones revealed that the Samsung's processing wasn't quite as adept as the Bravo's. That's not to say it was poor--the HD931 delivered a crisp picture that was notably better than the standard 480p progressive-scan--but details such as the surface of the droids and individual aliens in the stadium crowd looked slightly better on the Bravo.

Next, we checked out some video-based material, as opposed to film-based DVD movies, and the HD931 again slightly lagged behind the D1. While jagged edges were smoothed out--the pendulum pattern from the Video2000 benchmark disc was extremely smooth, and the waving flag from Video Essentials looked clean--the zoom-in on the green leaves from the Video Essentials montage of images revealed noticeable smearing. Interestingly, switching to component video revealed plenty of jaggies when viewing the first two patterns, so we don't recommend using this deck with anything but DVI.

Given the presence of HDCP, we expected some compatibility problems, but only one of the monitors in our testing facility, the BenQ 46W1 46-inch plasma, proved incompatible; all we saw via DVI was snowy static. All the other sets, including the aforementioned Samsung HLN617W, the Sony KV-34HS510, the Hitachi 57S500, the Gateway 46-inch plasma, and the V Vizio P4, worked fine. Nonetheless, we recommend you buy an HD931 from a vendor with a money-back guarantee, just in case.

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