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Toshiba HD-EP30 HD DVD player

While the format war rages, movies must still be watched

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When it comes to performance, 1080p does make a real difference to the amount of detail visible on screen. Whether you can actually make it out when you’re watching a film will depend on how big your TV is and how far away from the screen you’re sitting. But as an example, the tiny "Motion Picture Association of America" text on the film rating page is crystal clear when viewed at 1080p.

Drop down to 1080i or 720p and it’s still readable, but it’s jagged rather than smooth - and at 480i it’s almost impossible to make out, unless you already know what it says. While you’re unlikely to spend that much time staring at static text, it shows the difference you can expect from full HD.

Toshiba HD-EP30 HD DVD player

Takes almost a minute to warm up

Sit back and watch some actual movie footage, ultimately what the machine's designed for, and the results are superb – Bourne car chases at 1080p 24fps were absolutely stunning. It’s also not bad at upscaling your existing DVD collection to HD resolution. Obviously the results aren’t going to be anywhere near as good as HD DVD, but there is a noticeable difference.

Playing back the lobby scene from The Matrix at 576i there were noticeable artefacts and jagged edges. Switch up to 1080p and the quality is much improved, though still noticeably lacking compared to true HD content.

While Toshiba has managed to improve the quality of the picture compared to its previous entry-level model, there are areas where its budget roots start to show. The remote control, for example, is fairly small and basic-looking, lacking the button backlighting seen on higher-end models. That’s not to say it’s not up to doing the job, thought, and given the bargain price for the player you can forgive a little cost-cutting in the remote control department.

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Next page: Verdict

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