A look at the Toshiba HD-E1 HD-DVD Player

Box Contents:
HD-E1 Player, Instruction booklet, Remote Control, 1x 2 pin European power cord, 1x UK power cord, 1x HDMI Cable, 1x Component Audio/Video cable

Connectivity:
Ethernet (10/100BASE)
2x USB Ports 5v / 500mA
Video outputs: Component, S-Video, HDMI v1.2
Audio outputs: Analogue 2ch, Digital Optical, HDMI v1.2
Official Toshiba Europe HD-DVD Website

I needed more…the Xbox 360’s HD-DVD Player while being a very capable and well built device just wasn’t enough. I wanted a standalone device that could read almost any DVD I could throw at it, even though I only use VCD’s, DVD’s and of course HD-DVD’s. As a bonus the HD-E1 upscales normal DVD’s too, this was just about perfect. Since I purchased a 32″ Samsung HDTV a few months ago, I was really shocked as to how poor normal DVD’s looked on such a screen, compared to a HD-DVD.

Toshiba recently announced news of their third generation HD-DVD players that will arrive from October 2007. As a result, the second generation players will receive a price drop, and that has already begun to happen as I managed to see the HD-E1 on sale for £176 Inc VAT. At under £200 I just had to jump at a chance of owning one.

The Xbox 360’s HD-DVD add-on currently stands as the cheapest way to watch HD-DVD movies, until HD-DVD ROM drives from NEC and Toshiba actually hit the mainstream market. Toshiba at present have their standalone HD-DVD players on the market, which are rapidly dropping in price. A good thing that. Hooking up any of their players to a high definition TV or projector will have you dazzled by the most detailed, and vivid picture you’ll see for a very long time.

HD-DVD’s well known rival is Blu-ray, from Sony, which is currently a lot more popular due to greater studio support. However the HD-DVD format has a few advantages in its favour right now. The first being price, with the 360 Add-on being available for just £99, whilst the HD-E1 costs around £175 if you look around carefully, whist the Toshiba EP10 is around the £290 margin. The Samsung BD-P1000 weighs in at around £350. Players for both formats however will drop sharply over the course of this year anyway.

The next advantage is the key one, Regional coding. HD-DVD’s non use of region coding means that you can freely obtain films from anywhere around the world and they’ll play without any hassle, which is my favourite aspect of this format. I import titles from America and Europe for prices between £12-20, much cheaper than the rip-off prices UK high street stores charge although importing from European countries can be risky – make sure your film actually has audio/subs in your chosen language. Blu-ray’s current UK line up isn’t much to shout about and the only films that I would like to have is the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.

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