Toshiba XD-E500 Upconverting DVD Player Real-World Performance

Real-World Performance
I tested the 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 outputs with real-world material and discovered the latter was very susceptible to stuttered playback. A great example of this was the opening sequence of Star Wars IV: A New Hope during the opening back-story crawl. Instead of smoothly progressing up the screen, it was very jerky. Also, the first camera pan down to the planet was anything but smooth. Instead of constantly having to reenter the setup menu, I chose to use only the 1080p/60 output for the remainder of my evaluation.

Throughout all of my real-world testing, I sampled each of the three XDE enhancements to gauge their effect on the picture quality. With Star Wars, I watched Princess Leia load the Death Star plans into R2D2 and toggled each mode on and off. Sharp mode did sharpen up the picture, but it also caused some ringing on the I-beams in the hallway.

Color mode continued the issue with ringing and boosted the color, specifically in R2's blue panels, giving them a little more "pop." The downside was the red lights surrounding Leia, which bloomed and obscured some detail in the background.

Contrast mode brightened the picture in the foreground, especially in this low-light scene, but when the action returned to the stark white hallways of the Corellian Corvette, some of the finer details on the walls were lost. Turning off the enhancement resulted in a slightly softer yet more pleasing image.

Star Trek: Insurrection is a fabulous SD disc for evaluating both displays and players alike, especially the opening sequence. As with Star Wars, each of the enhanced picture controls negatively affected the picture quality. Sharp mode caused ringing around objects with bright backgrounds, Color mode gave the sky a vivid yet unrealistic color, and Contrast mode highlighted some video noise in the encode.

Keeping with the sci-fi theme, I decided to watch an episode from Star Trek's first season, "The Man Trap." Sadly, the XD-E500 wouldn't output the proper aspect ratio, which is 1.33:1. It stretched the picture to a ratio of 1.78:1, which fills up the screen of an HDTV, but it also makes Kirk and company look like the "before" pictures in a Weight Watchers commercial. The video output in the setup menu offers four aspect-ratio settings (Fill, Original, Auto Fit, Pan Scan), but none of these choices displayed the 4:3 content correctly. As a video purist, I ended up stopping the episode out of frustration.