Toshiba SD-480E DVD Player - Toshiba SD-480E

By Danny Phillips


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

So onto picture quality and during movie playback the SD-480E delivers assured, fluid images, handling the beautiful cinematography of Apocalypto with pleasing depth and clarity. Mel Gibson’s Mayan masterpiece is absolutely bursting with detail and the Toshiba lets very little slip through its grasp, while the varied colour palette looks rich and natural. Displayed in 1080p on a Full HD Toshiba LCD (set to Exact Scan), it’s hard to spot any artefacts caused by the upscaling process. We’re not saying the picture is free from noise completely – some twitchy fine detail and muddy edges are evidence to the contrary – but it’s kept within acceptable limits.

The scene that best demonstrates the deck’s capabilities is when the captured tribe reach the Mayan city and wait in line to be sacrificed – shots of the baying crowd below and the surrounding temples look sharp and focused, while the blood, tribal decorations and glittering trinkets are displayed with real vibrancy.

And as Jaguar Paw is being chased through the jungle, the deck tracks our hero with conviction and keeps motion artefacts like smearing and block noise at bay. Dark scenes aren’t completely free from noise but objects are discernable enough.

It’s only when you slip the Tosh some test patterns that cracks start to appear. High-frequency detail bars are steady and sharp and the colour swatch is smooth, but it goes haywire with the rotating bars of the jaggies test, juddering and stuttering uncomfortably and making the diagonal lines look like staircases. Fine patterns also twitch and fidget during the detail tests, which upsets the clarity of the overall picture.

As a CD player the SD-480E isn’t bad, offering a respectful rendition of Miles Davis’ Blue in Green – the mere fact that his muted trumpet doesn’t put your teeth on edge means it must be doing something right. It doesn’t sparkle like the best players would but it’s enjoyable enough for unfussy tastes. Movie sound is also excellent – Apocalypto’s DTS track is scintillating through an Onkyo TX-SR576, particularly during the high-octane escape scene as arrows whizz from the fronts to the rears.


The SD-480E certainly isn’t the last word in DVD picture quality, with some problems thrown up by test patterns, but despite this there’s still a lot to admire about its images, particularly when playing back movies. What’s more, there’s a decent range of connections, it’s easy to use and there are some useful features, all of which means you could do a lot worse for £50.

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Hamish Campbell

August 28, 2008, 12:10 pm

Anyone ever seen a comparison between DVD upscaling from a player, and just using the upscaling in the TV? Is there really a difference between a upscaling dvd player (which are pretty cheap) and a good HD tv (costs a fortune). I would have guessed they just utilise the same scaling engines (with price point differences of tech generations etc).


August 28, 2008, 12:42 pm

I can't say it's something I've seen but I do know what you mean. It seems logical that the result would be the same. As you say, though, the upscaling tech in TVs seems to demand quite a price premium so I'd be more inclined to go for a cheap upscaling player like this. That said, if I could afford it, a decent TV will ensure all you sources look good and generally give you better audio as well.


August 28, 2008, 2:20 pm

Whereas upscaling DVD players', such as the Toshiba SD-480E, main purpose is upscaling, a TV has to handle a lot more than just upscaling content. This is evidenced by lacklustre cadence detection when 3:2 and 2:2 pulldown is not successfully detected and deinterlacing is non-existent resulting in visual errors such as jagged edges appearing in content.

If you wish to have lower resolution content upscaled then you would be best to invest in a decent upscaling DVD player or an expensive HDTV and not rely on the substandard processing of a lot of the HDTVs currently available.

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