I recently purchased an HD860 DVD and S3292D LCD combo from FS here in the Toronto area. I had the units connected via component cables while I waited for an HDMI cable to arrive.
As I lived with the HD860, I became increasingly annoyed with the bright blue light on the "on" button, undimmable apparently, that remains constantly lit while the player operates. (This is the reverse of the 3292D, which shuts the light off after the TV is warmed up and operating.) As others have noted, this intense and relatively large circular light is quite obtrusive. What was Samsung thinking?
After reading the favorable reviews here about the two Oppo units, I picked up a 970HD DVD from a Toronto-based etailer linked from Oppo's Web site. Unlike the HD860, the Oppo comes with an HDMI cable, so I was then able to test the units side by side with the highest quality output for both.
First of all, the Oppo does not have an "on" light, only a tiny, discreet red LED when in standby mode. When operating, there is information in yellow light in the display, which I do not find distracting. Score one for the Oppo.
I set the scan output for both players to 760p and then recalibrated the movie mode of the TV to each player in turn using the Avia DVD at the players' default settings. During this process, I noted that there is a significant difference between the default black level output of the two machines; when calibrating for the Oppo, I had to increase the Brightness setting on the TV from 24 for the HD860 to around 50. I also tested with a range of TV Contrast settings, from 82 to 100.
After calibration, I used The Fifth Element and The Incredibles for test disks.
The HD860 was up first and gave me a stunning, impressive picture--until I came to the trailer for Cars on my copy of The Incredibles disk. The quick, opening shot of the deep red Cars front-grill logo seemed somehow off. Then in the opening scene with the bumblebee visiting the flower, the first two small logo badges with major areas of red and orange running sequentially in the upper left of the frame reveal the problem: apparent serious ICP (interlace chroma problem). This is confirmed throughout the trailer whenever the red car is in the scene. Crawling, shifting red pixels, obscuring detail. Really ugly.
While it did not eliminate the ICP entirely, the 970HD was head and shoulders above the Samsung in handling it. Both machines otherwise performed excellently, but my overall impression was that the Oppo provided a more natural, better balanced picture with more dramatic color and fewer artifacts. It also has a superior remote with backlighting.
I used only the internal audio in the TV and did not notice an obvious difference in audio reproduction of sound tracks. Both were quite good. I did not use or evaluate these units for any other audio playback.
Considering the included, high-quality HDMI cable, the Oppo and the Samsung are competitively priced. I paid C$166 plus tax for the 970HD, plus a $5 dollar pick-up fee.
So it was an easy decision for me to go with the Oppo. No annoying "on" light, superior video reproduction, and much better handling of ICP. The HD860 goes back to FS today under their 30 day return policy.