Toshiba HD-E1 HD-DVD Player
- Brilliant image quality, great DVD upscaling, online capabilities in the future, competitively priced
- Slow interface, no 1080p support
While it is missing 1080p support and has a somewhat sluggish interface, the HD-E1 is a well priced High Definition player that supports both DVD and HD-DVD, and outputs exceptional image quality.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Toshiba's HD-E1 is the first HD-DVD player we've had through the office. While we looked at the Qosmio G30 notebook with a built in HD-DVD drive, the HD-E1 is a different animal all together, as it is a standalone home entertainment device designed to play back HD-DVDs on your television. The quality of the image was stunning and satisfied our expectations of the fledgling High Definition format. Unfortunately the unit itself had a few other issues that somewhat hampered the overall user experience.
The primary reason one purchases a device like this is for extremely high quality images, and in this regard the HD-E1 delivers. Offering playback at resolutions up to 1080i, this device produces stunning detail and clarity, however keep in mind that it doesn't offer full 1080p High Definition output. This is understandable considering the reduced price tag (compared to the Blu-Ray players on the market that currently offer 1080p), but it will be a sore point for some buyers who want the very best. It does however support the new HD sound modes including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD (core only).
We primarily tested the device using Mission Impossible III, and suffice to say it looked amazing. The differences were most evident in background areas, with every part of the shot rendered clearly and precisely, rather than the grainy, pixilated back drops that are a common trait of regular DVDs. Even in areas of extreme detail, with debris flying everywhere and flames licking the corners of the screen, there were no visible aberrations. Our only complaint was a minor amount of image noise visible on some background areas, but much of this can be attributed to the mastering of the film itself and it wasn't enough to detract from the overall quality of the picture. For those of you wondering if upgrading will make a noticeable difference, let us assure you; you'll never be able to watch DVDs quite the same way again after seeing your favourite films in High Definition.
We also tested regular DVDs to see how the device handled the upscaling process. The HD-E1 will upscale your 576i Standard Definition disks to 780p or 1080i, and it did a very good job. While there were some noticeable artifacts resulting from the process, they weren't too distracting, and the overall picture looked excellent. People looking to use this device as a hybrid HD-DVD and DVD player will be more than satisfied.
For owners of video cameras, there is good news too, as the HD-E1 supports MPEG2, VC1 and most importantly MPEG4 AVC (H.264) video formats. While currently there aren't many HD camcorders on the market, they are growing in prominence, and this device is well suited to playing back video files written by HD DVD cameras.
We did however have one issue with the device, namely, its responsiveness. The HD-E1 is quite a slow machine. It took just over 50 seconds to start up, and the first menu of our disk took several seconds to respond to a button press. As the device warmed up, things seemed to speed up, with the main menu operating flawlessly, but we still encountered slow down when skipping scenes or trying to issue commands during playback. This isn't a major factor, but it certainly was irritating.
The unit itself looks quite sleek. The first HD-DVD player, the HD-A1, never saw the light of day in Australia, but was said to be quite a blocky, chunky device. With the HD-E1 however, Toshiba has remedied this, creating a sleek, gloss black unit that will fit in comfortably with a modern home entertainment system. It has a single power button on the left hand side, and an eject key next to the disk slot, while the front panel flips down to reveal play, stop, pause and navigation keys.
The rear of the unit houses all the connectivity options, including HDMI, Composite, Component, S-Video and both optical and analogue audio. However, keep in mind that to take advantage of the new HD audio modes (like DTS-HD), you'll need to be connected via HDMI.
The other interesting feature on the rear of the HD-E1 is the Ethernet port. While currently it doesn't do much, in the future it will be used to take advantage of the online, interactive elements available on HD-DVD disks. You will be able to do things such as receive context specific information about people and places represented on that particular disk, although this will likely cost extra.
Overall, the HD-E1 is a great product for those looking to take the plunge into the High Definition era. It offers excellent image quality, the ability to play back your older DVDs and online capabilities, at a price considerably lower than the two Blu-Ray players currently on the market. The only real downside to the unit is the lack of 1080p, but with few televisions on the market currently supporting this resolution, it really won't become an issue for half a year or more.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- AirTV's slick marriage of Sling TV and OTA channels isn't in the product yet
- Here's what's coming next from Sling TV
- The guts of Onkyo's SBT-A500 sound bar come in an external box to give the speaker an ultra-low profile
- Plex embraces Kodi as Plex Media Player becomes available to all
- 'Google Cast' is being phased out in favor of Chromecast for connected TVs and speakers
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTBrand Marketing Manager - Premium Entertainment BrandNSW
- FTFront End UI DeveloperQLD
- FTLevel 2 Service DeskNSW
- CCFIS Connex Developer (Brisbane Based)VIC
- CCSenior Developer - Appian/PegaVIC
- CCWebMethod DeveloperVIC
- FTFront End DeveloperVIC
- FTBack End DeveloperNSW
- CCSenior Project Manager - Financial Planning - Contract - Sydney CBDNSW
- CCBusiness/Process AnalystQLD
- PTVBA Analyst Programmer - Permanent / Part Time (3 days per week)QLD
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTLevel 3 EngineerNSW
- TPAnsarada Data Room AdministratorNSW
- CCSenior C++ Software EngineerWA
- FTBusiness Development ManagerVIC
- CCTechnical WriterQLD
- FTLinux EngineerNSW
- CCSenior Java DeveloperNSW
- CCFIS Connex Developer (Brisbane Based)SA
- CCApplication PackagerVIC
- FTSolutions Architect - Data Centre/ NetworkNSW
- FTFunctional ConsultantNSW
- CCWeb Architect - Ruby, Python, Java, Open sourceNSW
- CCSenior Business Analyst - ITMSP - Melbourne CBDVIC