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Toshiba release HD-DVD player to UK market

BluRayvsHDDVD.jpgI haven't been doing many stories on High Definition as yet, mainly because I've been holding back for a series of features about the whole market. However things are starting to hot up in the UK so I'm going to start dropping in the odd news story here and there and hopefully illicit the help of HD owners out there to provide you with some interesting reviews and information.

Today I've just read that Toshiba's first HD-DVD player is available in the UK and has been officially released to market.

The news from It Week first had me thinking they meant a PC drive, but actually it's a stand alone player. Now there's nothing really exciting until I read the following statement:

The HD-E1 incorporates picture-in-picture video commentary, in-movie menus and an internet connection for the potential to access additional features.

Picture in picture video commentary, how superb is that? I hadn't picked up on that announced feature of the new DVD content. That will be something very cool, although at the same time it does just gove more potential for wasted eye-time as well as ear-time. Some commentaries are as dull as dishwater already, and can be filled with silence, can you imagine watching these people as they watch their own video saying nothing or at least nothing interesting?

The player is over at Play.com for a mere £499.99 - that's really £500 pounds cleverly disguised! - and is due for release on the 15th of January.

It offers the latest sound processing as well as Ethernet and HDMI connections and standard DVD upscaling up to 1080i. Upscaling is where the player transforms the limited output of a standard DVD to the high resolution capabilities of an HD signal, and the results are supposed to be amazing.

Be aware though that an upgraded version is also being released in late January and it will drop in at almost £700.

Crazy money. Would you pay this for HD right now? Saying that, my first DVD player (which I still use as my main player today) was a mere £799!



wow? 500 squids. Now thats a lot of money. So i see the HD vs blu-ray is still undecided. thats just great.

i am not parting with any cash until thats a done deal.

i may invest in a HD-DVD addon player for the xbox360 for 100 quiddish ... 500 is crazy talk .. even for me!

499 however ;-)

You're still able to play DVDs on a player made long enough ago to be that expensive? That's amazing. My first player couldn't handle dual-layer DVDs all that well, and it was terrible with even the slightest damage to the disc. I would be on my 3rd or 4th by now if I hadn't switched to computers instead.

btw - A computer running at your HD set's native resolution does as good or better than most upscalers in DVD players. It doesn't take much horsepower either. Add in some good storage, and you can lock your DVDs away in a nice, dark closet so you can stay off the obsolescence cycle.

Okay, off on a tangent and all, but I saw LoTR: RoTK on TNTHD the other night, and you know what was really bad? All of the sudden I could easily spot miniatures. Granted, I could figure it out on 480i as well, but it was really obvious at 720p (my set doesn't do 1080i/p). It kind of jolted me out of the experience seeing Minas Tirith (sp?). What's worse is the LoTR miniatures were some of the best I've seen on film.

I am definitely not willing to pay astronomical prices for a player yet, especially given the fact that in a couple of months (or years) either one of the formats could in fact "lose". Can you imagine spending £499 on a player that would be redundant? I still feel sorry for the poor Betamax supporters.

If you want HD upscaling without the cost, I'd advise picking up an Oppo Digital DVD Player. My girlfriend got me one back in March and it's phenomenal. It certainly made my mind up to wait to see which format wins this war before I commit to anything.

Hey Hap - yes! Pioneer 717, it's stunning and reads everything apart from badly scratched rental DVD's which just get dropped in the PS2...until it started dying (it was bought on PS2 release day) and now the 360.

Upscaling is a really good idea for the moment. I've started my search for an HD TV, after that it's an upgraded Home Cinema Amp for decoding the new sound formats, then hopefully the battle will have been fought.

Interestingly though spidey, walk into a studio and you'll find Beta. Strange how the worst format won...well not really, cheaper to produce, to hell with the consumer.

Amazon had the enhanced player (the XE1) available for pre-order at £504 although prices have risen as the demand grows and the launch date gets closer. Undoubtedly "early adopters" will have to pay a bit of a premium for the hardware, although the X-Box 360 HD-DVD drive which also works with Microsoft PC's running Windows Vista and costs just £130 for a hard drive including a "free" copy of King Kong on HD-DVD and the XBox 360 media remote controller is so cheap it's a complete stea. But even at the maximum prices advertised for the Toshiba players HD-DVD isn't gouging the market as much as one might expect and the film companies are getting on board too. The HD-DVD (region free) release of "Superman Returns" day and date with the DVD release was a good sign, and there are more on the horizon. "Babel", which only gets its UK theatrical release in January, has already been announced for release in February on both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. This week we've had "Lady in the Water" and "World Trade Center" on region free HD-DVD - ahead of their rather ordinary DVD releases. Life is pretty good for home movie fans who are early adopters.



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