NeoDigits Helios HVD2085 Review – Hi-Def Upscaling DVD Player
Since our last review of a NeoDigits upscaling DVD player, the company has since replaced the player with a new rebranded model featuring several improvements over the NeuNeo HVD2085 we last reviewed. Even though the next generation of blue-laser high definition players are beginning to enter the market, so far their current pricing is well outside of what is affordable for the average consumer. However, as HDTV beginning to sell quite rapidly, this makes it an ideal time to get the most out of DVDs, while making use of the TV’s high definition capabilities through the use of a HD upscaling DVD player.
While many HDTV sets will accept a standard definition picture, the majority of these do a very basic upscaling in order to fill the display, such as simply repeating pixels in order to fill the screen. This can lead to a grainy picture, such as jagged lines, pixely looking writing and so on in the picture. While it is impossible for DVD upscalers to put missing information back into an image that was lost during the original downscaling to standard definition, upscalers work by using sophisticated interpolation on the picture during the resampling process in an aim to eliminate the side effects of stretching the image to a higher resolution conversion. Most standard DVD players have another issue in that they only output an analogue picture such as by SVHS, SCART (Europe), composite or component. What makes this DVD player so special is that not only can it upconvert the picture to high definition, but it also keeps the picture in a digital format all the way to the TV with a HDMI or DVI connection, regardless of whether the TV is HDCP compliant.
In this review, we will compare how well this player upscales its picture against a high definition projector’s own upscaling capabilities and that of a TFT display with DVI & VGA, as well as check out the drives capabilities in other tests such as usability, features, disc compatibility and so on.
We found the following information on the NeoDigits website, www.neodigits.com :
Founded in 2003, NeoDigits has established itself as one of the leading online providers of cutting edge early-adopter technologies to the digital home entertainment market.
Having entered the market with our flagship brand of DVD players, NeuNeo, we have since launched our line of DVD products under a new brand name – HELIOS.
The new and improved brand is representative of the maturity in the quality of our products and a re-aligned focus and commitment to our customers and services.
Young, powerful and dependable with a fresh innovative edge – that is the image that the HELIOS brand represents.
Here at NeoDigits, we have an ardent vision of the future of our digital entertainment experiences – networked media solutions that bring together all your digital media, allowing you to access them whenever you want, wherever you want and however you want. And we believe that we can bring you there early.
With our strong passion for all things audio-visual, together with solid background in IT; we focus on bringing next-generation feature-rich products to those who share our same passion.
The driving force behind how we develop our products’ features, functions and design? Customer feedback and needs. Our team continuously strives to listen to our customers, respond to your needs, and improve.
In the midst of rapidly-evolving technologies, we feel that we can do more than just ride the trends. We here at NeoDigits believe in pioneering innovation and offering you products rich with novel features and functions that enhance your digital experience and revolutionize your digital lifestyle.!
The following table shows the main specifications for this player, found at the NeoDigits website:
Video Formats (i = Interlaced, p = Progressive)
Component & HDMI
Up to 1080i/p
Up to 1280 x 1024
32bit Risc CPU
24bit RISC CPU
Fast 16bit 149MHz
192kHz 24 Bit Audio
Fast Forward / Rewind
Up to 40X
Up to 8X
DVD, SVCD, VCD
CD, HDCD, MP3, WMA
CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW
Component, S-Video, VGA, HDMI, Composite
Optical, Coaxial S/PDIF, RCA (2x Stereo Mix, 6x 5.1 channel)
17 x 10.5 x 1.7 inch (430 x 270 x 43 mm)
1 DVD Player, 1 Remote Control, 1 analogue RCA Audio/Video cable, User Manual
100 ~ 240 volts AC, 50 ~ 60 Hz
- Redesigned easier to use remote control with read-in-the-dark, fluorescent buttons.
- 480i and 576i video resolutions are supported via the HDMI port.
- The decoder board features higher-grade audio capacitors
- The power board features higher-grade capacitors.
- SmartPlay for going straight into the DVD’s main title upon loading.
- HDMI cable is now included
What’s inside the box?
Let us first start by taking a look at the retail packaging as well as the accessories the drive ships with.
The following image shows the retail box this drive shipped in.
Unlike the packaging of the former NeuNeo HD upscaling player, this player’s outer packaging is plain brown cardboard. The image above shows the print on the box as the other five sides are all blank. The image below shows the contents of the retail pack:
The retail bundle consists of:
- Helios HVD2085 High Definition DVD Player
- Remote Control including batteries
- 3 x Male Phono to Male Phono Lead
- HDMI to HDMI cable (not shown above)
- AC Power Lead
- User’s Manual
Considering the how expensive HDMI cables can be depending on the store, it is really nice to see a HDMI cable now included in the retail pack. However, for HD hook-up by Component, VGA or DVI, one will need to obtain suitable AV cables. On the other hand, from our experience, the included triple phono cable will double up as a basic component video connection for 720p and 1080i, however we would strongly suggest going for high quality component cables. In the US, phono plugs are also known as RCA plugs.
Now, let us take a look at the player itself:
Apart from the writing and branding along the top, the front of player looks identical to the NeuNeo HVD2085. The writing to the upper left clearly indicates that this is a HD upscaling DVD, unlike the NeuNeo model where the front of the player gave no indication to what is special about this player.
Like the NeuNeo model, this is a very slim DVD player with the overall height being just under that of a PC IDE DVD-ROM drive. The following image shows a close-up of the display:
The display contents are pretty much identical to the NeuNeo model in that it shows the track/chapter number, time, type of disc playing, repeat mode and the codec of the sound track, with the exception that this display is sold blue.
The following image shows the front controls of this player:
Like the NeuNeo model, the front controls on this player are very basic and should suffice at least for playing back audio CDs. With DVDs, it is not possible to navigate about the menus using the front controls alone, however assuming the ‘Play DVD” option is selected by default when a DVD is loaded, the play button will start playing the disc.
Now, let us take a look at the rear of the player:
Again, like the NeuNeo mode, this player has identical audio and video outs. With such a wide range of connections, this is where this DVD player clearly outperforms most of the competition. On the other hand, this player is clearly designed to work with virtually any TV or display one has or may encounter. The following image shows a close-up of the phono (RCA) outputs:
The HDMI and VGA output connections are shown in the following images:
The rear of the player has the following connections:
- Pure Digital video connection to the TV as well as DVI-D displays with an optional HDMI to DVI cable or HDMI to DVI adaptor.
- 5.1 Audio Out
- 6 Analogue channels of surround sound audio, for connection to a non-digital multi-channel surround sound amplifier. These can be connected up to the following speaker systems: 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, 3.1, 4.0, 4.1, 5.0 & 5.1.
- Mix Audio Out
- Stereo audio out for connecting up to a stereo TV. This also allows the use of the TV’s built-in speakers with the amplifier switched off.
- Component Out
- 3 x Phono output for connection up to a HDTV display, which does not feature a DVI, VGA or HDMI connection or where these connections are already occupied by other equipment.
- Digital Audio Out
- Optical ‘“ Digital audio out for an amplifier that has an optical in.
- Coaxial ‘“ Digital audio out for an amplifier that has a coaxial in.
- Video Out
- CVBS ‘“ Standard definition composite out for connection to a standard definition TV.
- S-Video ‘“ Higher quality standard definition output for standard definition TVs which feature SVHS-in.
- VGA to SXGA video output for connection to PC monitors and projectors which lack a HDMI or DVI input.
One main improvement over the NeuNeo is the completely redesigned remote control:
The new remote control design makes it easier to navigate through a disc as well as through the menus, particularly with the ‘Enter’ key now positioned in the middle of the arrow keys as opposed to elsewhere like on the NeuNeo remote.
The following image shows a close-up of the top section:
This section includes the controls for controlling the player, play order, selection of display modes as well as navigation. The volume control adjusts the player’s own output volume, which means that one does not need to have a 2nd remote handy to adjust the amplifier or TV volume during playback. The VGA button switches between the different VGA resolutions, the HD button switches between 720p, 1080i and 1080p and the 50hz/60hz and PAL/NTSC buttons switch between 50Hz/60Hz and PAL/NTSC TV standards respectively.
The following image shows a close-up of the middle section:
The numeric keypad allows direct chapter, title, track and time jumping. The ‘Bookmark’ feature allows one to bookmark a DVD point such that they can return to this position at a later stage, even if the disc has been removed. The ‘Clear’ button clears the current entry in an input field.
The following image shows a close-up of the lower section:
Unlike the NeuNeo remote, this remote actually has most of the DVD playback controls grouped together. The ‘Angel’ button seems to be a typo as the NeuNeo remote’s angle button is actually spelled as ‘Angle’. While the remote is not backlit, it does have an interesting feature in that its buttons are luminous and thus glow in the dark as shown in the following image taken with a long exposure in a dark room:
Finally, for those interested in the different labels on the rear of the drive, these are shown in the following images:
Drive information plate, class of laser & serial #
The usual warning labels