Unfortunately the HD-E1 falls foul of my usual bugbear with Toshiba products, an ugly and poorly designed remote control. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the remote control, it’s just that it looks totally generic and not the kind of thing you’d expect with a cutting edge AV product like this. What’s strange is that the Toshiba 17in LCD TV that sits in my kitchen has a better looking remote than the recent examples I’ve seen. It’s a real shame because Tosh knows how to design good looking kit, but it seems that the design budget dries up before the remote is considered. The other disappointment is that the remote doesn’t light up, so if you’re watching a movie with the lights down you’ll have a tough time finding the right button.
The big question is whether I would buy the HD-E1 and the answer is probably no. Personally I’d be willing to pay a little extra for the HD-XE1 when it arrives – assuming it lives up to my expectations. But would I recommend the HD-E1 to anyone else? Definitely! If you’re looking for an affordable step into high definition movie collecting and you want to get the most out of your existing DVD collection, the HD-E1 is a bit of a no brainer.
Toshiba has really raised the bar with the HD-E1, producing a high quality HD DVD player at a very affordable price. Although £350 is a lot of money to many people, considering that a Blu-ray player will cost you well over twice as much, the HD-E1 is a bit of a bargain. Toshiba has even thrown an HDMI cable into the box which will save you a few more quid.
The HD-E1 may be lacking a few of the features that it’s high-end brother will have, but you’ve still got everything you need to make the most of that shiny new HDTV you bought for Christmas. The inclusion of the Ethernet port also means that you’ll be able to receive firmware updates for the player to potentially increase functionality in the future.
The battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray is far from over, but for now I have to say that HD DVD is looking like the more attractive option. With cheaper hardware, better quality software and online features that actually work, the balance of power has definitely shifted towards the HD DVD camp.