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HD / HD DVD
Toshiba HD DVD Player HD-XE1
Company: Toshiba

Pros: Picture quality; tons of connectivity options; firmware updates; ease of use

Cons: Long remote control; big size; a little on the expensive side

Product Rating:

4.5 Star Rating: Recommended

Editor Rating 4.5

User Rating 0

Toshiba HD DVD Gives 1080p Justice

By Mendelson Tiu | Tuesday | 14/08/2007

We reviewed Toshiba's HD DVD HD-E1 a few months back and we were quite surprised with its video quality and affordability. Now, we take the Toshiba HD DVD HD-XE1 for a ride to see whether the extra hundred dollars that comes with the player's price tag is well worth it.


While the battle between Blu-Ray and HD DVD has yet to be concluded, we can still see that HD DVD still has that edge in terms of affordability. Right now, companies like Toshiba have ventured to the high definition arena by creating HD DVD players that provides users with HD images in a snap. One of its current products is the HD-XE1, a $1599 HD DVD player that may perhaps be one of Toshiba's masterpieces.

The HD-XE1 sports a brushed aluminium surface with an HD DVD logo etched up front. Like the HD-E1, this HD DVD player only has the on/standby and open/close button visible on the unit. Other control buttons like Skip, Pause, Stop, and Play buttons can be accessed via an access panel hidden on the player's façade. Toshiba also added two USB 'extension' ports that may be used for additional control options in the future. A Mode switch can also be found on the player that must be toggled to 1 or 2 depending on the TV input that one will use. For example, should a user want to view his/her HD DVD on a TV set that uses an S-Video or Video input, a user must place the Mode on "1" to down convert the video.

The rear of the HD-XE1 definitely has more connectivity options compared to the older HD-E1 model with its HDMI (1.3), Component, Video and S-Video Output, Coaxial and Optical Digital Audio Output, two channel and 5.1 surround audio outputs. The XE1 also has an Ethernet port that can be used for updating the player's firmware and accessing interactive online content from several HD DVDs.

The HD-XE1's startup time took around 30 seconds but setting the player is still easy enough. Toshiba was able to make its main menu as simple as possible and gives one various options like changing the time, enabling parental locks, and changing video outputs (up to 1080p). The HD-XE1 can read various formats from audio CDs, DVD videos, and of course, HD DVD videos. While the player can accommodate CD-R and DVD-R discs, it does not support MP3 or WMA formats.

The Toshiba universal remote that comes with the player was fairly easy to use, thanks to its labeled buttons. Users can also control their TV sets just by pressing a couple of buttons on the remote. The remote also has a backlight button that will turn the backlight on/off at any specified time, making it easier for users to use in the dark. Furthermore, the bottom part of the remote slides down, allowing users to change chapters with ease.

What's so great about the new Toshiba HD DVD HD-XE1 is its ability to output 1080p, which is the epitome of true HD in this time and age. The player also has 720p and 1080i outputs and can upscale DVDs up to 1080p.

Video quality from several HD DVDs came back sharp and clear, with pictures being clean, crisp, and radiant. The player also demonstrated outstanding colour reproduction, making several scenes from First Blood a breathtaking one. The video playback was smooth and without any lag, with audio quality being quite remarkable even if HDMI is not used. Finally, we have no qualms about the upscaling functionality of the XE1 as the video quality is more than acceptable.

Conclusion:

Overall, we have no doubt in our mind that the Toshiba HD-XE1 HD DVD player will do a great job at providing 1080p video goodness. What's more, with easy firmware updating, hassle-free setup, and USB expansion slots, this latest HD DVD player will give you a lot more things to come.

With an RRP of $1599, the Toshiba HD-XE1 may seem to be quite steep for some. But comparing it to its older sibling, the HD-E1, the extra $700 will provide you with 1080p, various connectivity ports, and several other features like 1080p upscaling to boot. If you missed the HD-E1 on purpose for this powerful workhorse, then we are happy to say that the HD-XE1's arrival is well worth the wait.

Product Specifications:

COMPATIBLE FORMATS

  • HD DVD Video
  • DVD Video
  • DVD VR
  • CD (CD-DA)
COMPATIBLE DISCS
  • HD DVD Video
  • Twin format disc (HD DVD & DVD Video)
  • DVD-ROM (Video)
  • DVD-R (Video)
  • DVD-R DL (Video)
  • DVD-RW (Video/VR)
  • CD (CD-DA)
  • CD-R (CD-DA)
  • CD-RW (CD-DA)
VIDEO SPECIFICATIONS
Codecs:
  • MPEG2
  • MPEG4 AVC (H.264)
  • VC1
HD output resolutions:
  • 1080p
  • 1080i
  • 720p
DVD:
  • PAL
  • NTSC
SD upscale to HD resolution (via HDMI):
Up to 1080p
297MHz/12bit Video DAC (analogue) outputs
Deep Colour (HDMI output)

AUDIO SPECIFICATIONS
Codecs:
  • Dolby Digital (up to 5.1ch)
  • Dolby Digital Plus (up to 5.1ch)
  • Dolby True HD (up to 5.1ch)
  • dts (up to 5.1ch)
  • dts-HD (core only, up to 5.1ch)
  • MPEG audio
  • PCM (up to 5.1ch)
TERMINALS
Video outputs:
  • Composite (gold plated)
  • S-Video (gold plated)
  • Component (gold plated)
Audio outputs:
  • Analogue 2ch (gold plated)
  • Analogue 5.1ch (gold plated)
Digital coaxial (gold plated)
Digital optical
HDMI output ver. 1.3
Ethernet (10/100BASE)
Control (RS-232C) bi-directional
2x extension terminals

_________________________

Toshiba HD-XE1 HD DVD Player | $1599 |  | www.toshiba.com.au

For : Picture quality; tons of connectivity options; firmware updates; ease of use
Against: Long remote control; big size; a little on the expensive side
Verdict: The Toshiba HD-XE1 HD DVD Player will give you the best picture quality and does justice to various HD content, making it a player worth purchasing.

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Toshiba HD DVD Player HD-XE1 Reviewed by Mendelson Tiu Rating: 4.5