Dare to Compare: DVD Players, One is $40, the Other, $3486

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

Looking for Dealzmodos as we always do, we found a Toshiba upconverting DVD player on Woot for $39.99. It's refurbished, has HDMI out and up-converts to progressive-scan 720p or 1080i. Best of all, it plays DivX and all kinds of CDs, too.


But in this corner, we're enticed with the Arcam FMJ DV139, the highest of high-end DVD players that scales video up to 1080p, boasts state-of-the-art broadcast quality upscaling technology from Anchor Bay, also has HDMI output, but whose main difference is its price conceit, commanding $3486. No DivX playback, either. WTF?

In a world where few people can tell the difference between 1080p and 720p, this reaches our breaking point of patience. Even the highest-end broadcast quality upscaling devices still don't look like HDTV, even to untrained eyes.

The fact that somebody would buy a DVD player for $3486 is to us certain proof that there is indeed a sucker born every minute. Reminds ous of those people who said they could hear the difference when a different mat was placed under their records on their turntables. Discuss.

Specs for the Arcam FMJ DV139:
ARCAM FMJ DV139 - £1800
Arcam's best ever DVD / Universal Audio Player
High-Definition 1080p upscaling for HD home cinema
combined with audiophile sound for music lovers

- one of the world's most advanced DVD / Universal Audio
players, designed and built by Arcam in the UK

- A convincing reason to stay with DVD and
not be ripped-off as an HD-Disc beta-tester


Make the best of the many hundreds of thousands of DVDs
available and get stunning music quality from CD, SACD and

- The DV139 delivers marked improvements in picture quality
from DVD and beats almost any competition at any price


- it is the first DVD player to really match a high-end
CD player, delivering stunning music performance.

- Even audiophiles no longer need to have two players.

The new DV139 is Arcam's latest and best ever DVD player / Universal
Audio Player. In addition to a superb 1080p upscaled 'Near HD' picture
from standard DVD, the new player delivers such an increase in CD sound
quality, that the DV139 is equivalent to a serious high-end CD player.


- cutting-edge video technology using the latest generation
Zoran Vaddis 888S core processing engine
- broadcast quality state-of-the-art ABT1010 1080p
video upscaling technology from Anchor Bay
- broadcast quality ABT102 video deinterlacer
- the best bad edit detection and 'any format' cadence processing
- twin audiophile-grade toroidal transformers for stunning sound
- unique Arcam 'Mask of Silence' electro magnetic damping technology
- unique Arcam tri-laminate damped SDS (Sound Dead Steel) chassis

The DV139 uses the unique FMJ tri-laminate SDS chassis, to mechanically
separate the electronic circuits from internal or airborne vibration.
Arcam's 'Mask of Silence' damps EMC. Twin audiophile-grade toroidal
transformers, give delicate audio signals a completely separate power
supply from the digital and video parts. Optimized circuit board layout
and a wealth of subtle tweaks stem from Arcam's long history of cutting
edge DVD and Hi-fi design.


- ABT1010 10 bit video scaler to 720p, 768p, 1080i, 1080p
- some of the best scaling currently available
- new - ABT102 'Precision Deinterlacing' technology video deinterlacer
- Zoran Vaddis 888s core processor
- DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, CD audio, SACD audio, DiVX video playback
- HDMI digital video/audio output

- 'always-on' composite and SCART video plus stereo audio for 2nd zone
- audiophile sound quality from all disc formats for movies and music
- new - CD Direct mode for superior music playback
- IR and full duplex RS232 control
- new - CR100 backlit learning handset, a sleek new design
- new - improved OSD and new user interface
with full colour graphics and easy to use menus
- unique
- built-in video setup wizard for user video display calibration


Specs for the Toshiba Upconverting DVD Player:


* HDMI output - High-Definition Multimedia Interface (cable included)
* Digital video upconversion with 720p/1080i output via HDMI
* ColorStream Pro® Component Video Output
* Digital Cinema Progressive scan with 3:2 Pulldown
* Optical and coaxial digital outputs for Dolby Digital, DTS, PCM
* Divx certified for DivX 3.11, 4.12 and 5x as well as DivX PRO
* Audio support for MP3, AC-3 (2ch and 5.1), WMA, LCPM, ADPCM and Ogg Vorbis
* 24-Bit/192kHz Audio D/A Converter
* 3-D Virtual Surround
* Plays DVD-Video discs, and DVD-Rs & DVD-RWs
* Plays CDs, CD-Rs & CD-RWs, and MP3 & WMA CDs
* Plays digital picture CDs (JPEG)
* Includes remote control and 6' HDMI cable
* 27MHz/10-bit video DAC
* 192MHz/24-bit audio DAC
* Dimensions: 17"W x 1-11/16"H x 9-1/4"D



* HDMI™: 1
* Y/Pr/Pb: 1 set
* S-Video: 1
* RCA-Video: 1
* L-R Audio: 1
* Coaxial Out: 1
* Optical Out: 1


Box Contents:

* SD-K860 DVD player
* 6' HDMI Cable
* Remote control
* Owners manual

Toppest-end DVD player [Randomly Accessed]




I would recommend taking a look at the technology before you reply to the basic facts. Arcam is a little overpriced due to exclusivity. But you are getting a quality product and if someone denies that, they are probably jealous of those who have one. The Arcom DOES have technology inside that is used by SOME broadcasters to up the quality of media for shows shot in HD, is their technology that much more impressive than Toshiba's? Yes, it really is. The Arcom uses a hardware progressive scan decoder where as toshiba uses software on a multipurpose chip or dedicated chip in their low end units. What this means is lag, error, and with an HDTV, artifacts. I have a unit a little above the Toshiba and it looks pretty pathetic. I leave it in Interlaced. Now, the progressive scan upconverter in my Projector does the trick just fine. Even HDDVD and BRDVD players have generally worthless upconverters that are better left up to the tv. (Yes the Xseries Tosh. HDDVD's have nice ones at a premium). Video Upscaling is quality at a premium. You pay for a company to develop more complex algorythms that take less time, and have less flaws. If you compared the Arcom to a Pioneer Elite as referred to above, you would laugh at the pioneer because for a grand, it is not much better than the Toshiba. The Denon 2xxx series with PureProgressive are a bit higher quality than even a $1k Pioneer Elite and buying used can be very fruitfull (DVD2800MKII for $100? @ 10% original cost). I think that You would be hard pressed to say the Arcom is comparable in quality to the Toshiba and you might be simultaneously hardpressed to say a DVD player over $3k is of any specific price/quality Value. If you want good, dont Spend under $300. If you want the best, you are looking at $800 for a Toshiba HD-XA2 HDDVD player with a good upscaler. And what is up with people and Monster Cables? They are marketed high quality, you can buy superior cables for less from cable manufactures and have them cut to length so you dont get distance degradation... Flippin N00bs