Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD Player
By now, you've probably figured out that this groundbreaking device is far from the perfect package. Even so - and regardless of what the rival Blu-ray format may bring to the table later - I'd say that HD DVD is a giant success. If my experience with the Toshba HD-XA1 HD DVD player proves anything, it's that we've crossed a big line in picture and movie sound quality for the home, and there will be no going back.
What We Think
|You'll experience spectacular picture and sound - and a few operational quirks - with this groundbreaking player.|
THE MAIN EVENT There are many ways to extract different video and audio formats from the Toshiba HD-XA1. I wired our sample for the best signals it could deliver and used a display and surround processor that could take advantage of them. This meant feeding a 1080i HDTV signal and uncompressed multichannel PCM audio from the player's digital HDMI output to the HDMI input of a Yamaha RX-V2600 receiver. The receiver readily decoded the PCM and sent it to Revel Concerta speakers. The Yamaha (with its video scaler turned off) passed the video through its HDMI output to our HP 65-inch DLP 1080p rear-projection HDTV. Note that watching HD DVD movies encoded in 1080p (as these titles were) demands setting the HD-XA1's default resolution to its maximum 1080i, regardless of your display type. The player's internal 720p scaler proved substandard, and setting the player for 720p output resulted in greatly diminished picture quality on both the HP and a new 50-inch Samsung 720p plasma. The image could easily have been mistaken for regular DVD, or worse. When the Samsung was fed a 1080i HD DVD signal, HD-quality detail returned, though the picture never fully captured the magic I saw on the well-tuned HP. This player wants - needs - a 1080p display.