Toshiba SD-5700 Progressive-Scan DVD-Audio/Video Player
In those dark days when it seemed like DVD would never launch—tied up by lawyers, Hollywood types, and so on (the same folks who are now working so hard to mess up HDTV)—some of the truest of true believers were lodged in an office building in Wayne, New Jersey. Their mantra was, "DVD is coming, and Toshiba will bring it to you." After almost two years, DVD did come, and Toshiba's first players were worth the wait. Since dragging the world (OK, maybe just Hollywood and a few attorneys) kicking and screaming into the DVD era a few years back, Toshiba has put out a series of low-cost, high-performance DVD players that earned justifiable praise from critics and enthusiasts alike.
With an excellent reputation like this, some companies might just coast and rest on their laurels. Not Toshiba. Instead, the company has introduced two new, affordable DVD players: the SD-4700 ($299) and the SD-5700 ($399), both of which are flat-out packed with features at only a notch or so above entry-level prices. Both models have progressive-scan video outputs, and both play DVD-Audio discs, CD-Rs, and MP3-encoded CDs. The Cinema Series SD-5700 adds HDCD decoding to garner higher fidelity from many CD titles. The SD-5700 also sports an attractive silver faceplate, a nice departure from the dark fronts of Toshiba's less-expensive models.
Other than its silver finish, there's nothing surprising about the SD-5700's appearance right out of the box. Its front panel is an evolution of previous Toshiba designs: not too cluttered but with all of the necessary buttons to operate the player, should your dog bury the remote in the backyard. When you plug it in, you might notice a new blue diode, which lights up when you play a DVD-Audio disc.
The back panel has all of the connections you'd expect, including 5.1 analog audio outputs, a stereo pair of analog audio outs, and both coaxial and optical digital audio outs. Video outputs (all of which work simultaneously, so you can connect more than one video display at a time) include composite, S-video, and component.
The remote is pretty much the same upscale unit Toshiba has shipped with their DVD players over the last couple of years. While it's not backlit, its layout is fairly intuitive, and it has enough different button shapes that you can use it in the dark without having to look at the screen. The onscreen virtual remote, Navi, allows you to use the joystick to control most of the basic remote functions. Toshiba has once again revised the menu system, improving both its look and usability. Another nice touch is a start-up menu that helps even novice users properly set up the player to match their display and audio systems.