If there is one product that will help push down the cost of Blu-ray players, it’s the new Toshiba upscaler that coverts traditional DVDs to 1080p HD. And at only $199 this little beast is set to be a real irritant up against Blu-ray devices that in some cases cost three times as much as this Toshiba box.
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After losing the HD war against Sony’s Blu-ray, Toshiba is definitely engaging in spoiling tactics with a product that will put pressure on Blu-ray sales this Chirstmas. If you have a collection of DVDs that you want to play in your HD TV, then this box is your best option.
The reason why it is good is because of the fact that Toshiba has included its “eXtended Detail Enhancement” (XDE) technology on the XD-E500. This technology will not only upscale footages to 1080p, but also adds more detail, contrast, and colour to your DVD footage.
The construction is not as good as other expensive DVD players in the market: it feels light and plasticky, only sports a couple of buttons up front (On/Standby, Play, Stop, Pause, Skip, and Open/Close), and only has an HDMI, Composite, Component, and Audio Out ports at the rear. To make things worse, the unit only came with a set of RCA cables (composite and stereo audio), which doesn’t do justice to what this player can really do.
Taking the unit out of the box and looking at its physical aspect is one story, but plugging and testing the unit ourselves is another. The unit has a couple of output modes you can use to deliver HD content to your screen (480p/576p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p). In order for you to get the best picture and enjoy the player, we recommend potential buyers to get themselves an HDMI cord.
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Of course, don’t expect to see Blu-ray quality pictures on your screen: DVDs do not have a native resolution of 1920×1080 and cannot store as much data as Blu-ray discs. What this upscaler can do for your DVD collection though is to give it that needed boost, making it look good on a big screen.
The Pic Mode comes with three different modes: a sharp mode that enhances detail, a colour mode that improves the blues and greens, and a contrast mode that adds detail to dark scenes. These settings cannot be adjusted though, so users would have to leave the magic up to the box.
We hooked up the XD-E500 to Toshiba’s 46XV500A screen via HDMI and started to play our favourite DVDs. By default, the player was able to reproduce colours and image depth well. And as expected, footages upscaled by the player lacked clarity and detail.
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The ‘Colour Mode’ not only enhances detail, but also increases saturation to improve the blues and greens. Unfortunately, this particular mode only works best with movies with soft colours as it will make well-encoded DVDs look artificial.
Finally, the Toshiba XD-E500’s ‘Contrast’ Mode combines detail enhancement with a slight contrast adjustment. As Toshiba says that this mode is recommended for dark scenes where ‘detail may be difficult to notice,’ we played Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In this mode, we were able to see more detail in the ships as well as in dark places where there was hardly detail at all (during normal play).
The Toshiba XD-E500 Upscaler is the best DVD player we have seen to date: it comes with everything you need to breathe new life to your massive DVD collection and then some. And with a price tag of $199 (RRP), this is one player well-worth buying for the holidays.
See page over for the product specifications and final rating.
Toshiba XD-E500KY DVD Upscaler Specifications:
- Playable Disc Types: DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-R DL, DVD-RW, DVD-RW DL, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD+RW DL, CD/CD-R/RW, DVD Video, VCD, SVCD, CD-DA
- Video Upconversion: 720p/1080i/1080p
- XDE Modes: Sharp, Colour, Contrast
- MP3 Playback: Yes
- WMA Playback: Yes
- JPEG: Yes
- HDMI LED Indicator: Yes (480p/720p/1080i/1080p)
- Fast Forward: 2x, 8x, 30x, 100x
- HDMI with Regza Link
- Component Video Output
- L-R Audio
- Coaxial Out
- Digital Optical Out
Toshiba XD-E500KY DVD Upscaler | $199 ($219 Inc GST) | | www.toshiba.com.au
For: Excellent upscaling; Supports a lot of formats; XDE technology works; Attractive price
Against: It just feels cheap
Conclusion: Get your hands on this upscaler from Toshiba now.