Toshiba HD-XE1 HD DVD player
Tosh brings in 1080p on a budget
Review After the big bang of the HD disc format war, the dust has settled a little. There are players available on both the Blu-ray and HD DVD sides and now manufacturers are expanding their product lines - adding a feature here and an enhancement there.
Since the launch of the Toshiba's relatively bargain priced HD-E1 player, a couple of things have changed. Firstly, Sony has finally shipped the PlayStation 3, bringing a budget - well, cheaper at least - Blu-ray player to the UK market. It's still got some way to go to beat the HD-E1 on price, but it does play games as well.
TV manufacturers have also started shipping what's dubbed 'Full HD' TVs - screens that support 1080p signals in addition to the normal 720p and 1080i HD resolutions. Support for 1080p only makes sense on large screens - on a 32in LCD you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference. But given it's the maximum resolution HD DVD offers it seems silly not to take advantage of it if it's there.
So, Toshiba's latest model, the HD-XE1, aims to compete not on price but on features. Unlike the HD-E1, it can output at 1080p if you've got a TV than can handle that resolution and it also supports version 1.3 of the HDMI cable standard which promises enhanced colour.
Design-wise, the HD-XE1 is a sleek-looking machine that wouldn't look out of place among other high-end AV separates. The front of the unit is sparse and uncluttered, with just a power switch, eject button and LED display on show. An array of control buttons is neatly hidden beneath a fold-down flap which also conceals two (currently not functional) USB ports. There's a blue light that shines out at the bottom, although if you find it distracting there's a button on the remote control to turn it off. You can also dim or turn off the LED display, if you so desire.
Since when is 650 smackers "reasonable"?
Title says it all - most people buying TV sets spend less than 650 quid, so why would anyone buy this extremely expensive HD DVD player that costs more than their TV set does? The reviewer has a complete cheek to call it "reasonably priced", when it's 200 quid more than a PS3 and about the same price as an XBox 360 + HD DVD, both of which clearly offer far better value for money than this unit.
Wake me up when a dual format HD DVD/Blu Ray standalone player costs 100 quid and a recorder for both formats costs 200 quid - only *then* will these standalone units gain any noticeable market share (note to clueless companies here - no-one with a sane brain will buy a single format player or recorder until the format war is over). And never mind the cost of both pre-recorded and blank recordable discs in both formats - both still overpriced, especially the blank discs, now that dual layer DVD 8.5GB blanks can be had for less than 1 pound each now.
The XBox 360 + HD-DVD drive will also work out slightly cheaper - assuming you can find one of the strangely elusive drives. The real downer is that you'd have to watch your movie with the 360 bellowing away in the background.
Anyone here got any experience of the 360's HD-DVD drive?
32" not viable for 1080p???
I disagree about this - you've got to remember that the relentless pursuit of perfection in technology means that decades from now 14" sets are likely to be high def, if not higher def. They're even talking about 2160p now, your comments are suggestive that even 40" sets will be too small for 2160p!!
Besides, I think the human eye is perfectly capable of discerning great detail even at such small screen sizes. After all, the 17" PC monitor I'm using right now is running at 1280x1024, it can display a 720p image nicely at 17", so why oh why can't a 32" accommodate a 1080p image?
This actually frustrates me because the corners of my living room are a little too small to accomodate anything greater than a 32" set and they don't currently make 1080p sets any smaller than 40", at least I haven't found any.
I'll just have to wait until things go holographic maybe, or wirelessly injected directly into the visual cortex for the ultimate in picture quality!!