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I bought this player a few weeks ago and it's the first time since buying my 1080p TV that I have seen a HD picture and man, was I impressed! Out of the box its easy to set up, power cord and a HDMI cable and you're off. There is an option to plug in an ethernet cable, I'll get to that later, and there is also an optical output and audio L&R option for your amplifier or receiver. No coaxial option which I thought was a bit strange but the optical output provides 5.1 sound anyway. If your TV does not have HDMI there's component video outputs in the form of Y Pb Pr which will also provide your HD picture and also a standard video output. Once you are all connected, switch on and the player "boots up", yes it does, it take a little while. Toshiba says its because the player is more like a computer where the software needs to boot up. Once booted you are presented with a setup screen where you can configure the players settings for picture (TV shape, HD resolution etc.), audio, language, ethernet (honest, I haven't forgot this), and general settings which include time setting, parental lock, on-screen display, HDMI control, maintenance (this means updates) and a twin format disc option which is for a DVD that has standard and HD content on the same disc. Now its time to pop in a disc but first I'll talk about the ethernet connection as you might want to set this up before you play a HD disc. The ethernet function has a few different uses with the most obvious one being updating the player. Once plugged into my router I selected maintenance/update on the setup menu. Prior to this you have to configure your internet connection like telling it what speed your connection is and setting up your IP address, don't be put off by this as most of it is simple selection and the manual is quite easy to follow if you aren't sure. The update started downloading giving you information on the display of its status, once complete it installs itself and switches off. These updates are for new firmaware or to download new software to make use of new discs or features (something you can't do with current Blu-ray players). I was impressed with the first disc I played which was 300 that came free with the player along with the Bourne supremacy (which I watched the day before buying the player, bummer!). The DVD intro, text and menus were of the greatest resolution but the movie itself although better quality than any DVD I have seen, was a touch grainy but I believe the movie was filmed this way. The Bourne supremacy however was much better and WOW, I didn't realise my TV could produce such great colour. One of the great qualities of HD DVD is the special features which can be accessed while the movie is still playing. Another bonus is the blue screen feature that plays in a sort of picture-in-picture style along with the movie and shows you how the effects were produced using the blue screen while you are watching the same scene in the movie. You can call up the menu while the movie is playing and select your favourite scenes (bookmarks) so that you can access them quicker at a later date. These bookmarks are held in the players internal memory until you delete them. Using the ethernet function you can upload your scenes, go to a friends house and download them to his player and show him the same scenes. You can also download extra content about the movie and download movie info, movie times, and trailers direct to your player, the inserted disc has to have this "web enabled" function however which will be on the special features menu. None of these features are fully active or even possible on current Blu-ray players and if you are unfortunate to have Blu-ray already then you cannot update current players to receive any new content or features, you will have to buy another horrendously expensive player. HD DVD has all these features and more and are easily upgradeable. You can buy HD DVD players for less than a third of the cost of some Blu-ray, as low as £119. I have saw the reports on the format war and I still believe HD DVD is better quality, better value, more interactive, more user friendly and more economical regarding the cost of movies. Reports say Blu-ray is very unresponsive and the players are slow and cumbersome but don't take my word for it, look online. There is a USB (extension) port on the front of the HD-EP30 which Toshiba says is for future control options. There is an upscaling function for standard DVD movies which is quite impressive and makes all your old movies look better than ever. Overall the machine does what it says on the box and does it flawlessly. There's currently no support for mp3 or DivX but hopefully these features night be included in future updates from Toshiba or even a third party.
In conclusion I'd say the player is excellent at what it does and the quality of playback will blow you away. If you are after a HD DVD player with all the interactivity but don't really need other features then this is the one for you especially at the current price of £120, I paid £200. If you are quick enough you will also receive 7 free HD movies, two in the box, another 5 by redemption. The cost of these movies to buy separately are greater than the value of the player so get your skates on! Ciao!