The entertaining Cars provides one of those wonderful 'wow' moments -the Marantz really is that impressive, offering incredibly well-defined edges and a nicely judged colour palette.
The Marantz also offers excellent fluidity as the cartoon racers zip around. Where it beats its rivals is in detail recovery and white punch: as the camera pans around the stadium, you can make out a jot of finer detail, and the flash bulbs are just brighter.
The VP-15S1 continues to impress when we switch to a live-action Blu-ray, in this case the cowboy epic, 3:10 To Yuma. Once again, we're seeing just a tiny bit of extra detail compared to its rivals, with the craggy cowboys appearing even more grizzly.
The landscape scenes also reveal that the Marantz creates a breathtaking depth of field, giving a real sense of three-dimensionality.
Quality comes at a price
Again we opt for the Training Day DVD as our final test, and the Marantz seals its place in our hearts. Detail levels are marginally the best on test, while white-punch throughout is extremely good indeed.
Moreover, the image is so clean and stable that it almost gives the impression of being high-definition - and remember, this is the same 576i source that the Sim2 D80E has the slightest trouble in deinterlacing. Colours are slightly pale next to the competition, but they're still realistic and natural.
Where live-with-ability is concerned, the Marantz's protruding lens means a permanent mounting is essential. In terms of connections, it has two HDMIs and two component inputs, making it marginally the best on test.
Combines incredibly sharp and detailed pictures with very punchy whites and an impressive black performance; creates pictures with real sense of depth
Colours are ever-so-slightly on the pale side of neutral; $14900 is pretty expensive