While I continue to lament the continuing battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray and wish that one would just give up and let the other format win, Joe Consumer (he’s a real person – honest) is probably having a batter time of things. While we here at TrustedReviews still haven’t seen a better Blu-ray player than Sony’s PS3 in terms of price and performance, the HD DVD camp seems to be constantly improving on this front.
The latest range of players from Toshiba brings HD players ever closer to the realm of standard definition A/V equipment, with the lowest end model, the HD-A3, given the frankly crazy RRP of $299 (around £180 UK street price). That would make it less expensive that the Sony RDR-HXD870 – an upscaling DVD player.
Other than the fantastically low price, the HD-A3 has a maximum 1080i (no 1080p) output, which shouldn’t be a problem considering the target audience, who will probably only stretch to a 720p TV anyway. Higher up the spectrum is the HD-A30, which will cost $399 (£230-ish) and offers full 1080p playback, CE-Link (which provides control of the player and TV using a single remote over HDMI), as well as Cinephile-pleasing 24fps playback.
The top of the range HD-A35 goes one stage further and offers support for 'deep colour' (up to 48-bit) output, when connected to capable TV, alongside 7.1-channel HDMI audio pass-through allowing you to use your existing high-end sound system for processing rather than the player and will cost $499 (£275). All the players will upscale standard definition DVDs, so you can wrangle a bit more life out of your current silver platters.