Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD Player
You’ve probably heard about the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray “format war” as each vies to become the new high definition video disc format. (VHS vs. Betamax in the 21st Century.) You may have decided to wait it out for now. Well, at only $149, I suggest you jump in… both feet first… and buy this player now!
This is Toshiba’s first generation HD DVD player and with that come some disadvantages. These are more than compensated by its advantages over the current entry-level Toshiba player, the $299 HD-A2. The primary disadvantage is that the HD-A1 boots up slowly- when you put a disc in it takes around a minute for the menus to pop up. After that, response is fine. There were some playability and HDMI issues early on, but firmware updates seem to have solved this, and since these have been refurbed by Toshiba the units should be up to date. There are lots of happy HD-A1 owners out there. Read some of their user reports at this link: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=905297
The huge advantage to this player is it has built-in multichannel audio decoders for the new advanced surround sound formats. That is a VERY important feature if you don’t have the latest and greatest receiver or surround processor to decode these surround formats. (As these receivers have only been out a few months, most people don’t.) It usually costs around $600 to get a HD DVD player with these audio decoders. I’d happily trade some operational speed to get them, especially when saving a huge chunk of change. The HD-A1 is a solidly built, substantial component that looks and feels expensive. The extra size may be a disadvantage to some, others may like it much more than the typical thin, cheap DVD player look. Personally, I’m a fan as it looks like you have something really high-end. Speaking of high-end, this thing has some amazing audio performance with CDs as well. Toshiba seems to have spared no expensive on the HD-A1′s audio performance, backing up the solid chassis with premium parts known for outstanding sound quality. Read in more detail at “Why the Toshiba HD DVD Rocks- Literally.”
But in the final equation, it is about the movies and the picture quality and in this regard the HD-A1 delivers in spades, with critically acclaimed picture quality from the most friendly HD disc format, HD DVD. I’ve been following the Blu-ray/HD DVD format war closely and have come to believe that HD DVD is best serving the interests of consumers. Sony has a horrible track record with their proprietary formats and I’ve never quite trusted Blu-ray since its botched launch over a year ago- not to mention Sony’s audio CD rootkit fiasco that got them sued by state Attorneys Generals nationwide. Besides all these negatives, the Blu-ray players are still too expensive, and prominent studios are jumping the Blu-ray ship. (Thought you could get Star Trek or Shrek on Blu-ray? Not anymore… HD DVD only!) After a great launch HD DVD soldiers on delivering a great experience at much lower prices, with things looking to only get better.
But I digress, time to get off my soapbox! The HD-A1 is available at Vann’s, an outstanding online retailer, for $149 with free ground shipping. See what all the buzz is about… hook it up to your HDTV, pop in a HD DVD, and be blown away by the picture and sound. They are not going to last… see and buy it at http://www.vanns.com/shop/servlet/item/features/488988302