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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.