Night of the Living Dead
Sore losers? Maybe. After throwing in the HD DVD towel, and surrendering to Sony's Blu-ray technology, you might think Toshiba would jump on the BD bandwagon like everyone else, and try to get some of that hot BD action. Instead, at the surrender ceremony, Toshiba grumbled that DVD was still pretty darn good, and deserved some respect (not to mention royalty payments to Toshiba's patent pool). Now, we see the first outcome of that grumbling: a DVD resurrection.
Instead of introducing a lineup of Blu-ray players,Toshiba is introducing a new and improved DVD player. The XD-E500 player ($150) sports Toshiba's eXtended Detail Enhancement (XDE) technology. It upconverts (ho-hum) to 720p, 1080i or 1080p in ways said to be much better than other upconversion methods (maybe). (The player does not play HD DVD discs).
In a side-by-side demo run by Toshiba, XDE did look better than another upconverter. But, pointedly, Toshiba did not compare XDE to Blu-ray. Still, at $150, the XD-E500 may represent a nice uptick in DVD technology, and may be a good deal compared to Blu-ray players selling for twice that, or more. Not to mention the savings when you consider the higher cost of Blu-ray discs over DVD.
Some mainstream consumer electronics press is disrespecting Toshiba for upgrading its DVD technology, but I disagree with that . . .
DVD is far from a goner. Yes, Blu-ray may eventually replace it, but then again it may not. SACD and DVD-Audio were supposed to replace CD and downloads, and clearly didn't. Similarly, Blu-ray may fumble too, or at least may continue to experience slow growth. So, there's plenty of room for improved DVD players.
Any improvement, even in older technology, is always a good thing. Anyone with a big library of DVD discs will welcome a way to squeeze more quality out of that investment. You can check out specs on the XD-E500 here. -Ken C. Pohlmann
Illustration: Detail from "Death and the Gravedigger," Carlos Schwabe, 1890s