Toshiba HD-XE1 HD-DVD Player
- Great high definition and DVD upscaling playback, impressive feature list
- No 7.1 support, slightly lags at times, relatively expensive
While the HD-XE1 is without a doubt the best HD-DVD player on the Australian market, it's also the most expensive. Non-enthusiasts may find the HD-XE1's asking price a little high, and ultimately may be better served by a more affordable model.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
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With the release of their latest HD-DVD player, the HD-XE1, Toshiba has brought an excellent high definition player to the Australian market. The first HD-DVD player in the country capable of outputting at 1080p, the HD-XE1 is capable of unlocking the full potential of the format. With full DVD upscaling to 1080p, HDMI output, and excellent playback of HD-DVDs, this player is sure to be a large seller amongst AV enthusiasts. Although its price also makes it the most expensive HD-DVD player on the Australian market, its feature set clearly distinguishes it from less expensive models as the premier player in today's range.
The HD-XE1 handles HD-DVDs exceptionally, as would be expected. Unlike Toshiba's first model, the HD-E1 HD-DVD Player, this unit is capable of outputting at full, 1080p high definition. The video and audio quality during our tests was exceptional, and delivered everything that we have come to expect from high definition. Video is clear and sharp, without any sign of compression artefacts or other display flaws. Playback is smooth, although as with other high definition players at this early stage of development, there tends to be a very slight lag time when navigating discs. This can be slightly annoying when attempting to skip a large number of chapters at once, but ultimately doesn't affect the otherwise standout performance of the player.
DVD upscaling is available via HDMI, at 720p, 1080i or 1080p. A big part of high definition players' feature sets, upscaling on the HD-XE1 does not disappoint. Although, of course, it falls short of the quality of true high definition, as found on HD-DVD discs for example, it nevertheless should add that extra level of detail, allowing users to enjoy their old DVD collections with much better image quality.
Audio performance on the player is great, and support is provided for all the major surround sound formats at 5.1. The only exception is DTS HD, which is still somewhat of a rare format (most movies these days have their HD Audio mastered with Dolby TrueHD). Nevertheless, the HD-XE1 can decode DTS HD, but only at a maximum bit rate of 1.5Mbps. Ultimately, this isn't something that will affect the audio quality for the average listener.
The interface is well laid out, and quite easy to navigate. Slight lag times are present, but as with disc navigation, this is a problem that as yet seems inescapable on high definition players. Numerous options, such as colour, contrast, brightness, and more are available for the user to calibrate and save to presets, which is a very useful feature for those who enjoy tinkering with their settings to find the best picture for their tastes.
The HD-XE1 includes the full gamut of connections, including HDMI, composite, component, coaxial and optical digital audio, 5.1ch analogue audio outputs, as well as an Ethernet port.
Toshiba has done a fantastic job of designing the HD-XE1. It gives users the power to experience the full wonder of almost everything that high definition movies have to offer.
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