Being a bit of a technophobe, I guess I arrived in the world of DVD players fairly late. By the time my budget, desire for a reasonable brand and multi region requirements had been taken into account, there seemed to be a short list of 2 machines, the Toshiba SD220 and a Panasonic equivalent. It is worth pointing out that the Toshiba can be bought as single region machine - the unit I purchased was from Amazon and already chipped to be multi region (unlike some manufacturers, there is no way to make the Toshiba multi region by simply inputting key presses via a remote - one of the actual chips has to be swapped). The machine arrived on time and has performed reasonably well. I don't watch hundreds of DVD's, just the odd one each weekend, but the machine seems to have coped well with all of the UK DVDs I've played. Recently I have tried to watch a US region DVD however this seemed to give the machine a problem - the picture play back would only return black and white - everything else seems ok (sound, picture clarity etc), just a problem with the picture. I'll keep you posted on how Amazon cope with the Customer Service side of things. If I could find a possible flaw, then it would be that the remote on the player feels a bit lightweight but overall, I am reasonably happy with the machine and would recommend it to others.
When you have a budget of £200 to spend on a DVD player that has a high rating from respected Entertainment magazines you could be looking for a very long time. That’s just what I did. It took me around 2 months to decide what DVD player to opt for. In the end it came down to a five-star LG DVD player or a five-star Toshiba 220 DVD player. I opted for the Toshiba. Despite the trouble I had of actually getting it (see my review on Unbeatable). I am very happy with my Tosh. The player is accompanied with an audio/video cable, a remote control (with batteries) and a neat, coherent user manual. The price then was £180, now it can be obtained for as low as £110. The Toshiba SD220E is CD-RW, CD-R and MP3 compatible. It is Dolby Digital and ‘Spatializer virtual surround’ integrated, offering premium sound and picture quality. Playback options are also very good. You can play tracks in the order you want or you can just select random. There is a zoom function, which is pretty impressive. On selected DVDs a camera angle can be selected along with subtitles and choice of language. The on-screen menu is easy to operate and the user manual is concise and easy to understand. If you have any problems there is a comprehensive ‘troubleshooting’ table, which is very useful. The picture and sound quality is impressive for the price of the unit. There are options to add surround speakers to this player, making the sound even more superior. The only flaw is the remote control. I feel it could have been designed better. It is rather fiddly and will take time to get used to. But, all in all a good all-round sub £300 DVD player.
Browsing through Amazon Electronics for a DVD player back in late November, the Toshiba SD220 caught my eye for two reasons: it was a multi-region model and it was very cheap (£120 including VAT and delivery and came with three free DVDs). Do note however: 1) Not all Toshiba SD220(E & EB) models are region-free. 2) Toshiba only started making a selection of these drives region-free during the third quarter of 2002 and only for selected stores. 3) Amazon and Richer Sounds are the only stores I know selling the region-free version of this player (although clearly there are others). 4) Certain aspects of this review will be relevant to the region-free version only. Don't be fooled by the marketing literature, the Toshiba SD220 is thoroughly silver, without a hint of green in sight (other silver appliances have deceptive photographs due to the reflection of light). At 430x69x225 mm, it is very slimline, sleek and will easily fit onto the top of any TV set. Inside the box, aside from a very thorough manual and the player itself, you will find a grey remote control, two R6 batteries, one power lead, and component video jacks. No SCART lead though. All very well for modern high-tech televisions but I acquired this player for my bedroom, already having a DVD player for my main widescreen TV. You guessed it: my bedroom TV does not have component video inputs, only SCART connectors. SCART leads are neither expensive nor difficult to come by though so I may be getting my panty-girdle in a twist over nothing. The remote control isn't the most ergonomic but it is very robust. It is not made of thin plastic which contorts if you apply a slight twisting pressure; the battery compartment is not flimsy or loose and it is not liable to fall off and spew out the cells if you drop it. However, the lack of ergonomic/intuitive forethought is easily forgiven because your fingers will fall onto the right buttons in a dark room aft
er two or three days of use. ONTO THE PLAYER Despite such a thorough remote, the SD220 has a very advanced front panel; anything you can do with the remote, you can do without it. Even calling up the OSD or navigating DVD menu's is a trivial task. OK, so few of us operate our TVs, VCRs and DVD players without getting off the sofa, but come now, we've all been without batteries at times and so uncomplex is the SD220's front panel that you wont be scrambling for the manual if the worst happens. Two features I immediately acquainted myself with were EPM (Enhanced Picture Mode) and EAM (Enhanced Audio Mode). There are five EPM selections available; absolutely invaluable for enhancing brightness, contrast and colours of different film types. Eg. productions shot on film, in technicolor, not to mention very old films. Of the three EAM selections available (Normal, 3D and Dialogue), 3D is the most impressive. Certainly, when connected to an amplifier the audio takes on an environmentally enhanced quality and can also benefit from Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic Surround or DTS (depending how your amplifier is equipped). You will find yourself with a fantastic movie and music system and will even be able to play your MP3 encoded discs. I CAN PLAY MP3s? Indeed you can. Aside from playing 8cm and 12cm DVDs, the SD220 can play VCDs, Audio CDs and MP3 encoded discs (DVD-R, CD-R/CD-RW media are all supported). The beauty of the SD220s MP3 playback is that it seems to play badly compressed files much more clearly than a PC. It's also not strict with erroneously encoded discs; indeed, it plays back a couple of badly written MP3 compilations that my Sony DC-J01 MP3 Walkman absolutely refuses to play because the discs contain tracks encoded at a bitrate it doesn't support. Another beauty of the MP3 playback is the OSD. With a simple point and click, you can drop down a list o
f fil ename s on the disc. Granted, only the first seven letters of every file, but enough to browse a 150+ track CD and know exactly what track you are selecting. Wonderful! BUT WHAT ABOUT MOVIE PLAYBACK? Everybody who has procured the SD220 will gloat about it's picture quality. Whether it's playing PAL or NTSC discs, the picture is crisp and sharp, the audio is clear, without low-level noise, and has a booming, cinema-like quality. Also in it's favour is the handling of the layer transition. All early DVD adopters (and users of cheaper players) are aware of that annoying one second pause in the middle of the movie - right? Well, be annoyed no more. With the SD220, movie playback is continuous and not even the layer transition can instigate a pause. Selecting different camera angles is intuitive, easy and without annoying pauses (which on some players, tend to be considerable). Those who acquire the out-of-the-box region-free model will be pleased to find that it also plays RCE DVDs. For those not in the know, that is an acronym for 'Region Coded Enhancment'; a digital enhancement added to some Warner Bros and Columbia DVDs to stop region 1 (R1) DVDs from playing on region-free DVD players. Summing up: the Toshiba SD220 multi-region player is an absolute steal. Anybody buying a player in its price range would be a fool not to consider it.
This DVD Player is fantastic. The picture is clear and sharp even to the finest details. I have mine connected to my hi-fi so the sound is fantastic. There's nothing like sitting in front of the TV watching a film and being able to feel the sound through the floor. The initial installation is basic and the set and remote are really simple to control. The only thing that lets it down slightly is the MP3 playback. There is a strict set of rules for MP3 playback like the type of CDR you use and the naming convention of the filename. If you don't adhere to these rules then the MP3s won't play on your set. There are some other players that are more lenient.