Well it's time to end my Dooyoo hiatus and continue to serve up some forthright opinion on all things movies and maybe other stuff. Just please don't think I'm going to be burned for a third time by watching Meet The Spartans once it reaches DVD.
But away from the shiny platters, I'm moving things onto the hardware behind them. When DVD came out, it made VHS go crying to it's momma and you didn't think things could get much better. But of course technology is always evolving and now Hi-Def is that latest phase of eventually beaming things directly into our brains.
Now I'm sure you've all seen something about the format war for Hi-Def DVD. In one corner you had the HD-DVD, in the other you had Sony's Blu-Ray. Both offer superior picture quality and sound but there was always only going to be one winner. This turned out to be Blu-Ray that left a lot of PS3 owners happy and the adopters of the HD-DVD format in the mire.
Well I was one of those in the mire. I decided to treat myself this Christmas to a Toshiba EP-30 player. I had the HD capable tv and decided to see if it was a major difference.
I purchased mine from Amazon for about £190 but with vouchers my outlay was less. Part of the attraction was the fact that you were given two dvd's in the box, namely 300 and The Bourne Supremacy. You could then mail in your receipt and receive a further five titles free. This made the deal fairly sweet and there certainly wasn't a blu-ray player around that could match the deal.
The player itself is pretty slimline and lightweight. It's has a sleek black style and minimal buttons on it's display. As with most technology, the operation is mainly based in the remote control.
Personally I find the remote control a tad small and crowded. In comparison to other remotes it doesn't have the ease of use that allows you to operate the thing in the darkness of a room. It's forward and back buttons are also differently arranged in comprison to most DVD remotes. But I suppose this is a small gripe once you get to grips with it.
HD-DVD discs look the same as normal dvd's, the cases are more slimline and take on a different design, but the sizes are all the same. I hooked my player up to the TV using the HDMI lead included in the box. It was good to see that Toshiba give you the leads to experience HD straight out of the box rather than giving the retailer an upsell opportunity.
The first thing I noticed is that access to the film is not as quick as normal DVD. There is a loading time that can seem like an age although it's probably only about 45 seconds. Then it hit me, you think dvd quality is great well HD raises the bar. Watching 300, a film created in the digital realm was a real experience, The clarity of the picture and richness of colour is just amazing and any film enthusiast will have to concur that watching films in HD at home is the way to go. The sound mix also seems to have better definition.
With regards to some of the long loading times, the player can be connected to an Ethernet port and is capable of downloading online updates to its firmware. I couldn't do this but Toshiba sent me a disc within 24 hours of phoning them. This update seems to have corrected some of the problems.
Of course all this is mute when you have a player that is part of a dead format. Well the good news is that the EP-30 plays regular DVD's and can upscale them to enhance the quality a little more. I have to say you do notice a bit of a difference when doing this. Sadly there is no multi-region out of the box so far but it is a possibility with a firmware update if available in the future.
Of course the other reason to buy one is that they've been greatly reduced in price and you can pick one up for around £50-60. This represents a great deal for a good quality dvd player despite the sad news regarding it's HD capabilities. For that reason alone I'd recommend buying one.
Not only that but you're starting to see a lot of the available HD catalogue crash in price, meaning you can pick up some great HD material for around a fiver. That my friends is a bargain.
I'm now consigned to the fact that I have to invest in Blu-Ray at one stage but I don't regret my decision, after all I got a great deal and it's still a good piece of kit.
Toshiba HD-EP30-K-TE - HD DVD Player & DVD Up scaling
I bought this HD DVD player yesterday and I can't begin to express what a good deal it is. I bought it at Comet where it's now down to 59.99 from 99.99 and comes with two FREE HD DVDs (Bourne Supremacy and 300)! The reason it's so cheap and such a bargain is because HD DVDs are now being done away with and Blue Ray is becoming the dominant HD media. Although in spite of this this is still a deal not to be missed. HD DVDs are now coming down in price as a result too! Not only does it play HD DVDs but it also up scales your current DVDs to a near HD standard. That means all your old DVD collection can still be played on the player in near HD quality, all for 59.99. And just to add to all this, from reviews on other sites on this product, it would seem this one is much better than others that cost around 200 pound. But now into a little more detail:
HD DVD Player:
The player as I've already said is capable of playing HD DVDs. This however is NOT Blue Ray disk. HD DVDs are different and require a HD DVD player to play. HD DVDs offer films up to a resolution on 1080p, although to get this resolution you'll need a TV that displays 1080p otherwise you'll have to choose from one of the other options (1080i, 720p, 720i etc...). My TV plays at 1080i so I havn't seen how it plays on highest quality, but on 1080i it plays pretty damn good. The picture is very clear and much better than DVD quality (300 looks pretty cool in HD).
DVD Up scaling:
The DVD up scaling feature is the main reason I bought this player as it allows me to keep all my old DVD collection and view it in a quality that is very near to HD (A little less than 720p). I compared 3:10 to Yuma on DVD and then on the HD DVD player earlier and the picture quality difference is defiantly visible, however when I compared Toy Story it's even more so. The picture crystal clear and I was very happy with the up scaling result.
Internet connection: This feature will allow you to update special features on HD DVDs etc.
Output to your TV is HDMI, however I didn't have a HDMI input on my TV (as it is a Dell TV/Monitor) so I bought a DVI to HDMI converter from Maplins for 19.99 (you don't lose any picture quality through doing this). The player can also be connected various ways to a sound system and also to the TV.
The Player is a bit taller than your average DVD player however this should be expected as it is a HD DVD player but is very pleasing to look at. The front is a reflective black with a display panel that is pretty impressive and in no way resembles anything you'd expect for 59.99.
Overall the HD DVD player is a bargain, however it won't be around for long as Toshiba isn't producing them anymore so hurry and buy one before they're all gone! I mean it's 59.99 and you get two free HD DVDs in the box! You couldn't really ask for more. I'm trying to think of a fault but I simply can't give you any, for this price you just can't go wrong.
This is another step-up model for consumers approaching HD DVD for the first time. It will output high definition content in 720p, 1080i and 1080p, the very best high definition video output. For the home-cinema fan the 24 frames per second output will be a real bonus, displaying film at the rate it was originally captured by the studio. The HD-EP30 also up-scales standard definition DVD output to close to the same high definition outputs to give a new lease of life to a consumers current film library.
Crisp, vibrant high definition images are only half the story, incredible sound quality is required for that true home cinema feel and here the HD-EP30 really delivers. It supports the very latest surround sound formats from Dolby and DTS, delivering breathtaking audio to complement the stunning visual performance.
Of course the true step forward with HD DVD is the incomparable interactivity offered, with the built-in Ethernet port allowing access to the internet for unique content, special offers and a whole host of interactive content designed to give viewers an unrivaled audio visual experience.
Toshiba has future-proofed the HD-EP30 with the addition of an extension terminal for the connection of peripherals to further enhance the viewing experience - keep an eye out for more details in regular updates.