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NEW HD-DVD owners: Please post your reviews here for members considering purchase!

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Samuel,

    Remarkable post and a great read. I respect someone like
    yourself who puts so much effort into researching products.

    I still don't own a Blu-Ray player, and probably will not purchase
    one this year for the exact reasons that you and most other
    members have reported in this and other Internet forums. It
    comes as no surprise that you were not blown away by Blu-Ray
    when viewing it against HD-DVD. This is basically the same type
    of reaction that has been reported time and time again.

    All of us still hope that Blu-Ray camp pulls themselves out of this
    rut that they now find themselves in. In the meantime, it's great
    to read yet another well-praised review for HD-DVD.

    ...by the way, let me personally welcome you to our forum. It's
    great to have an enthusiast like yourself amongst us. We hope
    you will continue to post your many tech experiences with us.
     
  2. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Indeed great post Samuel and as Ron has said, Welcome to the Forum! [​IMG]

    You did go to alot of effort and it showed in your summary. [​IMG]

    See you on the threads....
     
  3. CriPPleR_HD

    CriPPleR_HD Auditioning

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    Thanks for the warm welcome. I basically stumbled on to this forum looking for opinions on two subs that I have my eye on to finally complete my new HT system.

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/...d.php?t=241000

    I read allot of fluff reviews on Blu-Ray so when I read your honest review on the HD-A1, I just had to show my support and share my experience with the forum. It is rare when a reviewer can look past all the hype and just go with his heart. Keep up the good work! HD-DVD is the truth. Once more "A" titles are released (Hopefully this Fall) HD-DVD would have met or surpassed my expectations on what the next step in DVD should be.

    -Sam [​IMG]
     
  4. dkny75

    dkny75 Stunt Coordinator

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    As a long time lurker on these forums I decided to finally register due to my love of the HD-A1. I purchased the player through the Continental airlines miles website for around $360 (otherwise I probably would have held off altogether). Having the player for about a month now and having the 2.0 firmware in the player, I can honestly say this is the best $360 I've ever spent.

    I currently have my Tosh hooked up to a Samsung 5067 DLP through HDMI (only 720p but still looks damn good at 1080i) and an old Harmon Kardon receiver through analog. I currently have 48 HD DVDs and plenty more on order. I absolutely love this player. I thought watching the Discovery HD channel was amazing but now it's no comparison. Oh, True HD sounds amazing also. I'm waiting for my neighbors to start complaining about the noise so I can show them where it's coming from and hopefully they'll jump in also.[​IMG]
     
  5. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Welcome aboard Danny! Wow. 48 HD-DVDs. Thats alot [​IMG]
     
  6. Jimjum27

    Jimjum27 Agent

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    Where on Continental did you find it for $360?

    My HD-A1 is apparently in the middle of a melt-down. I downloaded 2.0 and it sent the 5.1 into a tizzy. I get no dialogue track. The surround works great, and I can listen to the Spanish stereo track just fine, but no TrueHD or even DD. Toshiba wanted me to send it in but I luckily have 2 days left on my BestBuy return policy. I was going to impress my dad with it this weekend but now he'll continue to think I don't live up to my full potential and tell me how well my brothers home theater in a box and 27 inch TV works.
     
  7. Jimjum27

    Jimjum27 Agent

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    Okay I found it...and couldn't believe it! Sure you have to throw in 100 miles but with my Continental Chase card I'll earn that back faster then it takes an HD-DVD to load! The only caveat is that it takes 4 to 6 weeks to deliver. I don't know if I can go that long. Once you sip the fine nectar of HD you can't go back to the watered down diet coke that 480P serves at the bar.
     
  8. dkny75

    dkny75 Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah there's a thread on AVS talking about the Continental deal but I can find the link right now. Anyway, there are a ton of people who ordered and are still waiting for their player. I believe the orders are handled by a company call Brainstorm out of NJ. I think they're waiting for another batch of HD-A1s before they ship'em out. It took me about a month but I constantly called them everyday to find out the status of my order. I like to think I bugged them so much they shipped mine out faster. [​IMG]
     
  9. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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    Presently I'm enjoying The Perfect Storm in Dolby True HD 5.1 on my Toshiba HD-A1, and I have to pause and chime in with my impressions.

    First, I'll share why I waited until now: It wasn't because I was worried that HD-DVD would "lose" in a format war. I read enough stuff here and elsewhere that I wasn't worried about that. Primarily, I was apprehensive about getting a first-generation player. I knew the HD-A1 couldn't decode TrueHD 5.1, and the reports of slow boot up time, poor 720p performance, and other things meant that I'd be better off waiting for the next generation of HD-DVD players.

    Also, I'd read some mis-information (stuff that unfortunately is still being repeated here on HTF) that had me convinced that I would have to use analog inputs for surround sound rather than being able to use HDMI (1.1). Not a deal-breaker, but it made me a little upset, especially because I'd purchased my $2000 Denon receiver only a few months before. I was relieved to learn that this was not true - that I could in fact use HDMI 1.1, because the surround decoding was being done by the HD-A1, and not my receiver.

    I was very pleased to read about the firmware updates Toshiba has been providing for the HD-A1. By about the time v1.4 was released, I was starting to change my mind. What put me over the edge and made me decide to purchase was the rumors (and eventual reality) of the improvements in the 2.0 firmware release, especially the TrueHD 5.1 support.

    I finally pulled the trigger after receiving a 15% Off coupon from a local electronics dealer (Ultimate Electronics), combined with a "Get 2 movies Free With Purchase of HD-DVD or Blu-Ray Player" deal. I got the HD-A1 and two movies (Phantom Of The Opera and Apollo 13) for $460. The only bad part was having to wait nearly a week for them to get the player in stock. I've also ordered several titles from Amazon.com, and I look forward to replacing more of my SD-DVD's with HD versions.

    The best part of all of this is that my wife said that she could tell the difference between HD-DVD and SD-DVD's, in terms of both picture and sound. I've been using an upconverting DVD player for a year now (Panasonic S-77), and it made our SD-DVD's look darn good - so she was skeptical about how much better the HD-DVD's would be. However, after doing an A/B comparison between the SD and HD versions of Phantom, she could plainly see (and hear) that the HD version was superior.
     
  10. George_W_K

    George_W_K Screenwriter

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    It's been a couple of weeks now since I've bought my HD-A1 so I've had some time to put it through its paces. I'm very glad that I went ahead with the purchase instead of waiting any longer. The picture with my 720p projector is fantastic. And as Chris says above me, it's very cool that my girl also sees the difference. She's already asking me about a ton of different movies that she wants in HD.

    I tried using the analog outs so I could hear the new DD+ and DDTrueHD soundtracks, but found the they sound better when they're sampled to DTS using the optical connection with my B&K Reference 50 preamp. I'm not complaining because it still sounds fantastic and better than the plain "old" [​IMG] DD and DTS tracks on SD-DVD. Hopefully B&K has an HDMI upgrade for me in the future so I can enjoy the future lossless tracks like I'm supposed to. But, I digress as that isn't my Toshiba's fault.

    So far, I have 6 HD-DVDs and am looking forward to the end of September when a bunch of movies I'm interested in are released. HT is exciting again!
     
  11. George_W_K

    George_W_K Screenwriter

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  12. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
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    I would like to ask a question to owners of the Toshiba player. Forgive me if this has been answered somewhere, but there are so many forums on hd I couldn't find this issue.

    My Sont front projector does not have HDMI, so I am wondering if the Toshiba players upconvert regular dvd's to 1080 over component and if so how does it look. Thank you.
     
  13. Robert_Zohn

    Robert_Zohn Value Electronics
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    Robert, Yes it does, but here are the two disadvantages:

    A. Some studios have indicated they may in 2009 or later initiate ICT, Image Constraint Token, which will degrade the component video output to 4080p.

    B. Your SD DVDs will not be up-converted over component.

    -Robert
     
  14. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    Yes and no. Yes only if the movie doesn't have macrovision copy protection and majority of them do. If you want to see them upconverted you can rip the image to your computer and burn it to a DVD-RW if you're not in a rush to see it.
     
  15. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Here's my review of the Toshiba HD-A1, 24 hours after purchase.

    I travel for work on a VERY regular basis. I come home for a week or so at a time, then leave for a month or more at a time. Yesterday, I returned from a 4 week trip. Given today is Labour Day, I knew groceries had to be bought before stores closed on Sunday. But there was something else on my list ... HD DVD.

    With the release of the 2.0 firmware, I knew it was time to grab the player. I got off the plane, got my car and went straight to Future Shop to picked the unit. Only then did I go buy groceries [​IMG]

    I brought the unit home and connected it to my Toshiba 46HX83 with a HDMI -> DVI cable. I plugged it in to my network and performed the 2.0 upgrade.

    Once the upgrade was complete, it was time to try a movie.

    I was a little surprised to be greeted with a dark and lifeless image. After dropping in DVE and Avia, I found a severe black crush issue. It's so bad that NONE of the black bars appear in the DVE pattern and NEITHER of the moving bars appear in the Avia pattern.

    I immediately moved to component video and was delighted with the result. This was the picture I was expecting. It seems my configuration is susceptible to the reported HDMI -> DVI crush issues. I don't really care, as SD DVD looks great on the unit, even at 480P.

    The image from the unit is terrific. Colors are absolutely perfect and the increased image detail is wonderful. So much better than the 'high def' content cable providers are cheating us with.

    One thing I wasn't prepared for was the audio upgrade this would give me. I decided to use the 5.1 analog outputs to my Pioneer VSX-21 receiver. HOLY CRAP!!!! The sound quality is out of this world! While there is a big improvement with SD DVDs, HD DVDs are mind blowing. I watched Serenity this evening and am still in awe from the experience.

    I tried Dolby True HD with Phantom and must admit the difference wasn't very apparent. The general audio mix on that disk seems dull, so that might be why. I'll have to wait for more True HD disks (I'm not interested in any of the currently available titles).

    The only problem I ran in to with the unit was while playing around. I was popping disks in and out, flipping chapters and audio tracks quite quickly. On occasion, I would flip to a chapter and there would be no sound. Pausing didn't fix the problem. I'd have to switch chapters again to get sound back. I'm chalking this up to the player acting up with a series of fast commands. It's not even sitting on my radar at the moment.

    Overall, the unit feels like a beta product. I'm not referring to the build quality, which is quite high, but more about the experience using it. There are still a bunch of quirks which make it unsuitable for the average consumer. For HT hobbyists, I give it my full recommendation.
     
  16. Dave>h

    Dave>h Second Unit

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    HI,

    Purchased my player last week from Amazon.com and did not initially get the 10% off the machine. A couple of e-mails back and forth to Amazon and got an additional $50 off the machine. Thank you Amazon!

    Shipping the player to Bermuda was relatively simple although I am concerned that getting Toshiba to send me updates might be an issue.

    My experience thus far has been largely positive. The machine has only locked up once (Ver 1.4 software) and I occassionally get HDMI errors on initial start up (and I cannot switch between my other DVD player and the HD A1 due to HDMI errors so it is hard to compare the image to another source. I understand this is not a software issue more an HDMI issue) but my TV only has DVI so that could be the reason, not sure.

    Connections are as follows:

    HD A1 to Samsung DLP (HLN61...) via HDMI with a DVI converter into the TV
    HD A1 to Yamaha DSP A1 via both 5.1 analog and toslink (have not upgraded to 2.0 firmware so no true 5.1 HD for me yet) which does the majority of the work.

    The picture is GORGEOUS on my 61" Samsung DLP - better than anything I have seen displayed at home (mine or anyone elses). I have not Avia'd my display using the HD A1 so I imagine it might be possible to get an even better picture (as hard as I find that to beleive). :>

    I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang last night and the image and detail were just amazing, I cannot wait for more titles to come out on HD DVD. The sound was handled via the Toslink connection and thus was in DTS on my amp. I did not do a comparison between the 2 ch HD and the DTS but would the 2 CH HD be in surround? Not sure if I understand how 2 ch HD works - is it like pro logic used to be, that is, 2 channels get mixed out into quasi four channels?

    I watched some upconverted Justice League cartoons and the image was properly pillar boxed and framed correctly. Very impressive feature. My previous Toshiba upconverting DVD player would incorrectly stretch 4:3 images when upconverting to 1080i. The upconverted image was very impressive although I could not compare it to a 480P image (see above) to see what, if any, difference there were. Although the picture looked very crisp with plenty of line detail.

    I also (frustratingly) compared images from The Searchers hd DVD to upconverted SD DVD and the contrast was pretty startling. Even my non HD (or anything to do with video really) girlfriend could see the obvious difference. She said the HD DVD image looked like JW and company could just walk off the screen into the living room. Coming from her, that was a great compliment to HD DVD. She would rather watch regular broadcast TV than anything on DVD and so I have deduced that she really doesn't much care about picture quality, or sound quality etc. I am sure there are lots of guys who can relate... : )

    Using the HD A1 as a cd player, I spent some time comparing the analog output from the HD A1 with the digital input from my Yamaha CDC 845 to my Yamaha DSP A1, which has some very good DA converters in it. I was very impressed with what I heard. The HD A1 compared very favorably with my CDC 845/DSP A1 combo. I used the MFSL CD of both Rush Moving Pictures and Pink Floyd Dark Side of the moon (I have two copies of each so could do back to back comparisons). In some instances I actually preferred the analog out from the HD A1 to the more digital sounding combo I currently have. Albeit the differences were slight. In some cases I found the HD A1 provided a more musical reproduction - the bass sounded more natural, or the drums sounded more natural although I did notice that some of the highs did not appear as high during the vocals on DSOTM. However, the was no "digital" harshness to the reproduced sound from the HD A1, something I was hearing sometimes in the combo set up. Both did faithful reproductions of the source material but the HD A1 sounded more record like and my combo sounded more CD like, if that makes sense. Personally, I found there was more presence to the production from my current combo. I just got a better sense of "being in the room" when piano was playing or during soft lyrical bits, but when the full orchestration kicked in, I really like the way the HD A1 created a real sense of a band playing.

    Whether the HD a1 performs better than my current combo is debatable but considering that both my CD player and my Amp were Yamaha's top of the line several years ago, I think that speaks volumes about the build quality of the HD A1 .

    The only two complaints I have about the player are: 1) the remote is AWFUL (fixed by programming it into my Pronto so no issues now)
    2) NO DVD A or SACD support (which is nit picky I know but my other Toshiba up converter did both so why not just include it on the HD A1? Seems to me to make sense and I can't imagine the cost to license either product is prohibitive. In fact, DVD A and SACD would probably pay toshiba to include the codec in their machine!)

    Well worth the price of admission IMHO.

    Now you studio types out there: Get us some more software titles to play!

    Happy HD DVD owner

    Dave
     
  17. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Good review Dave. [​IMG] I've had mine for about 3 weeks or so....my review is coming soon. [​IMG]
     
  18. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    OK, second-first impressions. I've had the player for a couple of weeks now, and have had a chance for HD-DVD to settle in. This has given me a chance to view HD-DVD on my HT, and reflect on all of the other testimonials I've read here and on the Shack. Here are my conclusions, based on the limited sampling I have had thus far:

    PICTURE: Everyone else has said 'WOW', so I will refrain from repeating it, though I wholeheartedly agree with it. I have, to date, only viewed two HD titles, U-571 and Spy Game, but the picture on both is stunning. U-571 is so clear that I feel I should be getting wet during the second depth charge sequence. Spy Game (blind-buy) was just as impressive, even if I was somewhat underwhelmed with the movie itself (to be fair, I need to watch it again; I was exhausted the first time and couldn't keep my eyes open). Was it enough to make me buy all future purchases, when available, on HD-DVD? Absolutely. What about swearing off all SD-DVD watching? Nope. I have watched several SD-DVDs since I got the HD-DVD player, and ya know what? I enjoyed them just as much as before. Sure, the picture was a bit softer in focus, but it was in no way bequeathed "crap status". Keep in mind that I am watching on a 65" display at approx. 2 screen widths. And that I am not using upconversion (my set is analog only). So, while 1080i is incredible, 480p still does one hell of a job (IMHO).

    SOUND: This is where I was the most impressed, actually, The first HD-DVD I spun was U-571 (50-50 chance, since my only other title to date is Spy Game). Using the SPDIF connection and the DTS option, the sound seemed warmer, and more detailed than the ½ bit rate DTS on the DVD. The only problem was that the picture froze, and then stuttered for several seconds during the latter part of the film (bummer). While I have read that the original firmware was plagued with this problem, I was suprised (and a little worried) to find it in the 1.4 FW version. However, after changing to the 5.1 analog outputs and switching the SPDIF setting to 'PCM' instead of 'BITSTREAM', the problem went away completely (I am still on 1.4). The problem behaved exactly like a buffering bottleneck, which (to my pedestrian mind) makes sense. If the player is being asked to read in a high bitrate audio stream into a buffer, then downmix it to the bitstream, and all of this in real time, it seems reasonable that it might get behind. That's just my guess, though. The main thing is, no more stuttering…[​IMG] Now that I have the analog connections made, and the sound rebalanced, the Dolby Digital Plus quite literally blows me away (3 MB/sec….[​IMG]). I am waiting for the 2.0 upgrade disc to get full DolbyHD now, but am in no particular hurry since I don't have any tiles with DolbyHD yet ("yet" being the key word) - Is there a list of DolbyHD titles out there? ….. Bring on Batman Begins, Superman Returns, The Lord of the Rings, etc!!

    In all, I am completely satisfied with my purchase, regardless of which way the format war goes. My original two conditions for upgrading now have been satisfied: No internet connection required for movie playback – check. HD video signal over component (at least until the ICT is flagged, but by then I will have upgraded both the player and display) – check.

    P.S. Ron, in another thread you mentioned that you were still using SPDIF, and were still having video "hiccups". Try changing SPDIF to 'PCM' and using the 5.1 analog jacks. I have not had the slightest problem since!
     
  19. dkny75

    dkny75 Stunt Coordinator

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    Vader, great write-up. Glad to hear you're enjoying your player. Right now there are only 5 titles that feature TrueHD. Phantom of the Opera (part of the intial WB titles with lower sound), Perfect Storm, Constantine, Training Day (which looks and sounds amazing), and Troy.
     
  20. mfabien

    mfabien Stunt Coordinator

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    SPDIF is the digital connection only. Setting there will not impact 5.1 multichannel. SPDIF should remain with setting "Bitstream" so that your receiver can decode DD Plus, coming in at 1.5 Mbps bitrate and decoded as DTS. Using setting PCM, outputs DD Plus in 2 channel (instead of 5.1), according to page 59 of the User Manual. Your synch problem could be caused by your receiver's DTS decoder's attempt to handle such a bitrate volume of data. Most people don't have that problem with their a/v.

    Using your 5.1 multichannel analogs, everything comes out in uncompressed LPCM. DD Plus is decoded by the HD-A1 and is received in your receiver as LPCM. I hear good comments for DD TrueHD in 5.1 for "The Perfect Storm".
     

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