So why shouldn't I buy the HD-A1

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by ChrisClearman, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. ChrisClearman

    ChrisClearman Second Unit

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    Was just going to get an upconverting player. Sony 75 or the Oppo. Then realized I was paying ~$150 for a DVD player...maybe just drop down to a regular progressive scan (I think upconverters are mostly marketing). Well, the Panasonic S52 w/ upconversion (which works fine) is the same price as a cheapo progressive scan.

    So then I see an A1 for $330 on clearance.

    Hmmmmm. It's one thing to pay $150 for a DVD player...it's another to get a GREAT DEAL on a whole new way to watch movies.

    Looks like there are some issues with the A1. First player out. Some bugs. Lots of fixes, but some freeze issues, etc.

    However, the biggest concern is that I've read it's very finnicky about the quality of disc. Does not handle scratches well, etc. I watch almost all of my movies from rentals.

    Is this going to be a problem? Should I save for the A2, or wait 6 months for new lower cost players?
     
  2. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    The main "problems" with the A1 are: slow starting from standby (approx. 40 secs), slow when initializing disc after closing the tray (approx. 20 secs), a bit slowly reacting in general (first reaction to some commands seem to take 1 or 2 secs) and a remote that some find very clumsy (not backlit, and even some problems reading the function in half-dark, if you can't remember them).

    Big advantage (compared to HD-A2): separate analogs out. This is "gold" if you want to enjoy TrueHD (lossless!) before an appropriate receiver supporting that codec will be available.

    Also: the A1 is built like a tank (if you don't like the "retro look" that could be a disadvantage, however).

    The price you mentioned is an absolute bargain. There will hardly be any comparable offer in the same price/performance ratio for any new, first-hand device on the market.

    General advantage (not in comparison with the A2): your existing SDVD library will retain its value, because these Toshibas have excellent upconverting capabilities.

    The "sensitivity" for scratches, dust, etc. is not higher for the A1 than any other HD machine (as far as I can judge), and when you install the latest firmware (a breeze to do in my experience), you won't experience many "problems" left. We're all waiting for a new firmware upgrade to smooth out some perceived (minor) irregularities.

    FWIW: I own the HD-A1 and I'm very happy with it.

    Again: the 2nd generation machines have some improvements (except 5.1 channel analogs that are not present on the A2 - the XA2 does have 'em), but if you're not much bothered by the relatively slow boot/starting times, it's that price that almost makes it a no-brainer, IMO.


    Cees
     
  3. Chris Gerhard

    Chris Gerhard Screenwriter

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    If you need a DVD player, I think the HD-A1 is a great idea. I don't need a DVD player but have been considering buying the player to get started in HD discs but I am now leaning towards waiting and buying the first Blu-ray player I can find at $400. The HD-A1 is likely a much better DVD player than whatever player I find, likely the Samsung, but I am happy with my DVD player and won't use it for DVD playback.

    The HD-A1 is a great player based on everything I have read and the in store demos I have seen and my hands on in store tests. The slow loading time is only an inconvenience and build quality and performance much more important to me. The HD-A1 is really a great first generation product from a company I expected to lay an egg based on my recent Toshiba products.

    Chris
     
  4. Peter Overduin

    Peter Overduin Supporting Actor

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    I own the A! and have connected it to my receiver via analog cables and to my TV via an HDMI swticher. After perhaps a couple of missives getting all that to work together...the slow load times are nothing more than...well...the time it takes me to go to the fridge and get a beer. The picture and audio quality is outstanding and you will not regret the purchase.

    I will no doubt purchase my next HD player when/if the format war is over; the combo player issues are resolved (and they are MUCH more serious than anything the A1 has had) and when the BD players are down around the 300 -400 buck range. Since all of this will take at least 2 more years, consider it a bargain!
     
  5. ChrisClearman

    ChrisClearman Second Unit

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    It looks like I can get an A2 for maybe $25 more. Is the A2 worth it?

    - I don't care about the 5.1 Analog out, I just use Optical
    - I don't care about load times, or remote responsiveness. I load a movie and watch it.

    - The big concern is freezing discs due to scratches from rentals (SD or HD). It seems like this is an HD-DVD issue (poor coating vs BRD) and not a player issue though.

    I was trying to get them to sell me the A1 for $300 out the door, but they wouldn't go for it. So it's like $350 after tax. A2 looks to be maybe $375 shipped online some places.

    The $75 Panny seems more attractive at that point.
     
  6. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Chris,

    If you use optical, you won't be able to listen to (lossless) TrueHD tracks until you get a new receiver/decoder.
    But perhaps you don't care about that.

    The dust and scratches are truly a new problem to me (but I don't rent). I think you're confusing the coating issue.

    HD DVD is based on the same technology as SDVD. The difference is: the pit size is smaller, so in theory it could be more susceptible to damage, just like BD. The coating of SDVD and HD DVD is based on a more than 10 years experience. Until now, not many reports about damaged discs surfaced, just some incidental examples.

    BD is based on a new technology. According to the first designs, they would be sold in a caddy. But then the price would have gone way up (as compared to HD DVD), so they decided to use a special coating instead. However, that coating appeared to have problems of its own, so it was abandoned too.
    That could make BR discs more vulnerable now, but I haven't read many complaints about the BD releases yet either, so perhaps this is all a moot matter.

    It's certainly not true that HD DVDs would be more vulnerable in this respect to scratches (or dust and smudging) than BD.


    Cees
     
  7. ChrisClearman

    ChrisClearman Second Unit

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    Regarding the coatings, that's not what I've read at all.

    I've seen a bunch of complaints about HD-DVDs locking, or having to skip past the damage, when rented from Netflix. I get SD-DVDs like this every once in awhile, too, but everything on AVS seems to say that the HD-DVD (or the Toshiba players) are especially bothered by this.

    There are several threads on how BRD's coating costs about $0.25 more than a standard coating, and requires special manufacturing equipment, but that it is extremely durable.

    I'm still up in the air about this. If I knew the player would function properly I'd buy in for the $350-$400. I just don't want to have every other movie from Netflix unwatchable.
     
  8. Gabe D

    Gabe D Cinematographer

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    I, for one, have had problems playing scratched rental HD-DVDs on the HD-A1. I have usually been able to clean the disc, or skip past a bad part. Unless you are able to get them when they are very new, you may indeed have trouble with every other movie from Netflix.

    I have not had any problems with rented Blu-Ray discs in the PS3. I have only rented 4 or 5 BR discs, compare to 9 or 10 HD-DVDs.
     
  9. unotis

    unotis Extra

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    I had a few problems with disc playback when I first got my Toshiba HD XA1 but, once I installed the firmware updates I've had no problems at all and I rent alot of discs from netflix. My Brother has a HD A1 and he installed the firmware updates and has never had any problems with freezing or skipping watching rented discs.

    You also get an audiophile quality CD player tossed in for free with the Toshiba HD DVD players ( the sound quality is unbelievable)!

    I think alot of these complaints come from people having not updated the firmware for the players (maybe they did not know about the updates?).

    I would buy the A1 for the price or put a little more money and maybe get the HD XA1 which I is the very best HD/CD player available anywhere for the money.
     
  10. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

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    I have an HD-XA1 (essentially the same thing as an HD-A1), and I had a copy of Land of the Dead HD DVD shipped to me here in New Zealand. It came loose in its case during transit and rattled around all the way down here, ending up fairly battered and scratched. When I loaded it into the HD-XA1, the player didn't object, and the whole movie played without a single hiccup, glitch or dropout.

    Adam
     
  11. ChrisClearman

    ChrisClearman Second Unit

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    So I'm still stuck between the A1 and A2 (+$30).

    Is there any definitive information on which handles SD DVD better? I've read the A1, but I've also seen people say it's the same, or the A2 is a little better.

    The A2 seems to be still getting firmware updates, and looks a little nicer IMO. Looks like the A1 is "done" from Toshiba's point of view and won't have any more firmware releases. Thoughts?
     
  12. Gabe D

    Gabe D Cinematographer

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    That may be true a lot of the time, I don't know. But it's not true of me: my player had trouble with rentals despite the current firmare.
     
  13. ChrisClearman

    ChrisClearman Second Unit

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    I went with the A2. HD content is fantastic. SD DVD upconversion seems no better than any other standard 480i or upconverter. It's fine, but not worth buying just for SD.
     
  14. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    The few of the A1 owners who said something like that, appeared to have one or two settings wrong.... [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  15. ChrisClearman

    ChrisClearman Second Unit

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    well, there aren't that many settings. I've tried a bunch of players, 480i, cheap upconversion, mid range upconversion, and expensive upconversion. They all look the same. Very good. Near HD? No way. Near HD-Lite (like D* HBO)? Yes.

    If your TV has a great scaler it isn't going to matter much.
     
  16. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Good choice. I think you'll be much happier with it over the long haul compared to the HD-A1.
     

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