Toshiba HD-E1 HD DVD player
Bringing next-gen DVD goodness into the Europe's living rooms
Round the back of the HD-E1 you'll find both HDMI and component-video outputs for HD plus standard definition s- and composite-video. Notably there's no SCART socket - but since only a fool would hook this machine up via an SD interface, SCART's omission isn't a huge loss.
There's also analogue audio out and optical for surround-sound plus Ethernet for internet connectivity. Internet use depends on titles - some offer additional content online which the player can access. General internet access isn't possible, though.
The player can also update its firmware from the internet, providing a level of future-proofing. This isn't a swift process, though, with one already-posted update taking around half an hour to complete.
Toshiba seems to have let the design department go home early when it comes to the remote control - it's the sort of thing you'd forgive being bundled with a 20 quid DVD player from Tesco, but not with a state of the art, latest, greatest piece of kit. The remote's looks suggest Toshiba's designers drew up a list of which buttons they needed and then merely methodically placed them in order on the remote. Combine this with the fact that it's black with dull white writing, and finding the right button when you've dimmed the lights to watch a movie becomes a bit like a challenge from the Krypton Factor.
The remote does have one neat feature: it will control your TV as well. Find the right code for your telly from the manual and you can then control volume, mute, channel, input and power without having to switch remotes. Unfortunately, the TV controls are labelled with blue text on black making them even more difficult to read.
Price-wise the Toshiba is a bit of a steal when you compare it to the cost of a Blu-ray player. Even at it's RRP of £450 it's still significantly cheaper than its bluer rivals. Shop around online and you can easily knock another £100 off, making it cheaper than some high-end DVD players - handy, given how well it upscales DVDs.
It may be the first consumer HD DVD player in Europe, but the HD-E1 shows all the signs of being a very mature product. Its output is gorgeous. It could be a bit quicker to load discs and it ought to offer support for 1080p - but these are just minor niggles given the very reasonable asking price.
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