In the aftermath of HD DVD’s disappointing demise, Toshiba has shunned Blu-ray and focused its attention on DVD, launching a range of players designed to squeeze the best possible performance out of the SD format. Spearheading this new crusade is the forthcoming XD-E500 upscaling player, which features the company’s eXtended Detail Enhancement (XDE) technology designed to bring DVD pictures one step closer to hi-def by boosting sharpness, colour and contrast.
But while this player will undoubtedly hog the headlines, it’s worth remembering that Toshiba has a healthy range of other (and probably cheaper) upscaling DVD players in its line-up, including the SD-480E which we’ve got our hands on here. It’s currently the second-best specified player in the range, sitting below the SD-580E, which adds a USB port.
If you’re a fan of slimline players that don’t make demands on your space, then the SD-480E will be right up your street. It’s just 42mm high and dressed in Toshiba’s customary sleek black finish, with a silver line running through the fascia. Its wafer-thin dimensions do have a downside though – the display panel is so small that there’s only room for the current DVD chapter number, which means you’ll have to rely on the onscreen displays for the elapsed or remaining running times.
At just under £50, the SD-480E provides a cost effective means of boosting DVD pictures to match the resolution of a hi-def display, upscaling them to 720p, 1080i and 1080p. These signals are fed to a display using the HDMI socket found on the rear panel, which also supports Regza Link, making it possible to control the player using the remote from one of Toshiba’s HDMI-equipped TVs.
Alternative video connections include component video output (which supports progressive scan) and an RGB-capable SCART output, both of which are disabled when using the HDMI output, plus composite video output for people who like really bad picture quality. On the audio side, there are analogue stereo and coaxial digital outputs, the latter allowing you to send Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams to your AV receiver.