Rack Attack VI: The Denouement
Finally peace settles over the rack. I know what my Pioneer BDP-HD1 and Toshiba HD-A2 can and cannot do. Am I satisfied? It's great to know I'll have access to Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus, even converted to high-bit PCM, but irksome to realize that firsthand experience with both forms of DTS-HD at full res will lie in the future. And what about the future? At the recent CEDIA I saw players that move forward into new territory, offering bitstream outputs of the new surround codecs for decoding in a receiver. Pioneer introduced the second-gen BDP-95FD ($1000). Of Toshiba's three new third-gen players, only the HD-A35 ($399) outputs the bitstream, and I'm shocked, shocked! that the other two don't. The HD-A35 is also the only Toshiba with a full set of analog-outs. At CEDIA there were many compatible receivers from Denon, Integra, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer, Yamaha, et al. Got one in the rack already, with another waiting in the wings, but how tantalizing it is to realize that the full surround capability that would transform my work as a reviewer is still two player swaps away--waiting for the next generation of rack attacks. In the meantime, I've never seen a better picture.