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Toshiba's eXtended Detail Enhancement (XDE) technology was originally introduced to fill the void left by HD DVD while the company figured out what direction it wanted to take in the hi-def market. A year later and Toshiba has sensibly decided to go down the Blu-ray route, but that doesn't mean it's turning its back on XDE technology - if anything, this advanced DVD upscaling tech is even more relevant, now that Toshiba has a proper hi-def player to complement it.
The technology, which first appeared on the XD-E500, analyses the entire SD source image, enhances edges to removes jaggies and boosts the sharpness of small details in areas where it's most needed. Despite our misgivings about this player at the time, XDE worked a treat and helped deliver some of the most convincing 'near hi-def' pictures we'd seen.
But one of our main criticisms of the XD-E500 was the £130 price tag, which was expensive by upscaling DVD player standards, particularly when you could buy a Blu-ray player for not a lot more. Thankfully its successor, the XDE600, is more realistically priced at just over £70, and if its performance is anywhere near as good as the previous effort then this could be one of the best-value DVD upscalers around.
A hands-on inspection reveals that the XDE600 is a different animal to its predecessor. It's lighter, slimmer and a bit more glamorous thanks to its swanky gloss-black finish and a sloping grey-tinged bottom edge, which is proudly emblazoned with the XDE logo. Tap the light-as-a-feather bodywork and the hollow sound doesn't instil confidence, but it's firmly bolted together and is certainly no flimsier than any other budget player on the market.
On the fascia you get a poor display panel that only shows the chapter number during playback, so you're heavily reliant on onscreen displays to find out crucial playback info. A green LED indicates the selected HDMI output resolution and towards the right-hand side of the fascia is a cluster of buttons and a USB port.
On the back, Toshiba has squeezed in all the crucial connections. Of greatest importance is the HDMI output, which delivers those upscaled images to your display in pure digital form, but you also get analogue alternatives - component, composite and a SCART output.
Interestingly, the deck can also upscale NTSC discs to 1080p and output them at 24Hz, although being a Region 2 player this won't be much use unless you get the deck modified (we're yet to find a remote hack). It can convert PAL discs to NTSC and then allow you to activate the 24Hz mode, but this obviously results in horribly jerky pictures.
Completing the socket roster are optical and coaxial digital audio outputs for transferring raw Dolby Digital or DTS bitstreams to a home cinema receiver, plus a set of analogue stereo outputs.