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The SD-280E is the first new DVD player to roll off Toshiba's 2008 production line, and we were first in line to take a look. It's a distinctly entry-level affair, with a stripped down spec and ultra-low price, making it a perfect player to accompany a second TV in the bedroom or the kitchen.
Despite its simple spec, there are actually two players beneath it in the pecking order - the SD-180E (which only boasts a JPEG viewer) and SD-185E (with DivX and JPEG playback). The SD-280E goes one step further by adding MP3 to the compatibility list.
The unit itself is very light; no doubt a symptom of some serious cost-cutting, but hides its budget origins behind an attractive exterior and slimline shape. The look harks back to the halcyon days of HD DVD, with its all-black finish and silver details, while its minimal aesthetic is preserved by the inclusion of just three buttons on the fascia and a compact display panel that only shows the chapter number during playback. Don't expect a USB port at this price either - that feature is reserved for the top-end SD-580E.
Swing it round 180 degrees and you'll find a very sparse rear panel, with only a few outputs - confirmation that this isn't designed to be the centrepiece of a serious home cinema system. For instance there's no HDMI output, which means no upscaling or all-digital video transfer, but there are component, composite and RGB SCART outputs that carry high-quality analogue signals. The component outputs offer progressive scan too, which will benefit those with flatpanel TVs and projectors.
You'll also find a coaxial digital audio output for piping audio bitstreams to your amp - but unlike its SD-270E predecessor it's not joined by an optical output. The digital port is accompanied by stereo audio output for more basic sound setups.
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