DarbeeVision DVP-5000S Review

The DarbeeVision DVP-5000S is the second generation of Darbee’s cost effective standalone image enhancement box. As an original owner of the Darbee Darblet, I can say that Darbee has done a nice job addressing many of my chief complaints of that unit. Gone is the chintzy, see-through plastic box and throw-away remote; the DVP-5000S is now a unit that more closely emulates the impressiveness of the Darbee technology. While I have difficulty detecting differences in the next generation 2.0 software when compared to what is present the 1.0 version in my Oppo Digital 103D Blu-ray player, at $199, the DarbeeVision DVP-5000S remains one of the more cost-effective, easy and impressive additions one can add to their video chain.

A Step-Forward in Build Quality

Manufacturer: DarbeeVision
Model: DVP-5000S
Review Date: September 4, 2016
Price: 200
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Darbee made quite a splash three years ago with the release of the first generation Darblet. The Darbee was a true unicorn with regards to image enhancement – when used at the appropriate level, Darbee Visual Presence produces noticeable improvements to an image’s sharpness and pop with essentially no unwanted side-effects. More pop, better detail, all without any untoward degradation to the picture? Upon reading the universal praise for the original Darblet I had to have one.

Unfortunately, while the Darbee technology was indeed impressive, the quality of the original Darblet was not. Encased in a see through plastic case – the Darbee felt cheap. Matching this was an equally cheap feeling remote; it was functional, but felt like it could break at any time. While I’m not someone who needs to always have my gear be pretty – the Darbee construction just feel like something that was going to last.

Everything needed is in the box

Everything needed is in the box

Well, DarbeeVision clearly heard these complaints, because the moment I take the new DVP-5000S out of the box, I feel like I’m holding a totally different piece of gear. This time around Darbee has encased its technology in a sleek brushed aluminum case. The unit feels far more solid and refined. There is a subtle logo on the top – and either end has HDMI ports – one in and one out.  Also included is an IR input. Darbee has also vastly improved the remote. It is now a more traditional wand style remote – the buttons are crisp and work easily – a massive improvement over the flat disk remote included in the previous generation Darbee.

Setting up the Darbee is quite easy – just set it in between your source (or whatever is switching your sources – and your display). In my case, I saw the Darbee just before my Lumagen Radiance XS video processor.

In use, there is really very little different in the DVP-5000S and the previous unit. There are still four modes – High Def, Gaming and Full Pop – each of which can be adjusted on a percentage basis between zero and 120%. The menu’s are still fairly basic – almost DOS like – but the general idea of the Darbee in most setups will be set-it and forget it.

Still Very Impressive Technology

The Darbee Visual Presence technology is impressive. When set properly, the DVP-5000S improves the sharpness and depth of an image, without any introducing any noticeable artifacts. I found the settings that produced optimal enhancement to be essentially the same as my Oppo BDP-103D – High-Def mode at around 30-45% introduces a pleasing increase the pop to my image without any artifacts. This improvement is more profound on my JVC RS-25 projector – but the Darbee also looks really nice on my Panasonic VT-25 plasma. I still don’t care for the Gaming or Full Pop modes on my Oppo – and that hasn’t changed in the 5000S – I find they introduce too many unwanted artifacts into the image.

I haven’t dug deep into describing the Darbee’s image quality improvements because there isn’t a lot new to say with the DarbeeVision DVP-5000S.  While the Darbee technology produces terrific improvements to an image, I didn’t notice an appreciable difference between the Darbee installation in my Oppo 103D and the DVP-5000S. A true side-by-side comparison isn’t feasible in my set-up – implementing the correction first in the Oppo and then in the DVP-5000S on the same content doesn’t produce any noticeable difference to my eyes.

The Darbee is very robust in use – I never had any problems with HDMI syncing and any increases in lock time are negligible. Once set, it operates very much in the background and can be easily forgotten if not for the impressive improvements to sharpness and detail.

My chief complaint with the DVP-5000S is future proofing. The DVP-5000S utilizes HDMI 1.4 and isn’t upgradeable – so you’re out of luck when it comes to UltraHD. While the DVP-5000S isn’t a costly upgrade at $200, the unit will have limited life if you are on the bleeding edge of UltraHD upgrades. The only future proof implementation of the Darbee technology I know of are in Lumagen’s line of video processors – but these boxes goes more than 10X what the Darblet will set you back.

Conclusions about the DarbeeVision DVP-5000S

The Darbee is still an exceptionally impressive piece of technology. Now the packaging finally matches the quality of the processing. With the DVP-5000S Darbee has addressed my chief complaint with the first generation Darblet. The Darbee DVP-5000S finally feels like a nice piece of video technology – and while the any improvements over the previous generation in my use were difficult to detect – the improvement in construction is very welcome. The Darbee remains one of the easiest upgrades to recommend – and we no longer need to make excuses for sub-par packaging.

Review Summary
Product: DarbeeVision DVP-5000S
Pros: Terrific improvements to video quality in a much nicer package than previous generations
Cons: HDMI 1.4 only; will become obsolete as UltraHD components become more common.
Summary: Still one of the easiest improvements one can make to a video set-up - the Darbee technology is fantastic, and the Darbee DVP-5000S addresses the chief complaint from the previous generation of mediocre build quality.
Value: 4/5
Performance: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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