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With the Silicon Optix Benchmark DVD the Toshiba delivers the sort of performance you'd expect from a more expensive player. The fine lines on the Colour Bars test are sharply defined and the colour swatch has no banding; it renders the rotating bars on the jaggies tests and the flapping flag stripes with absolutely no stepping whatsoever; fine detail on the sides of the buildings is sharply reproduced (if a little shaky at first) and it locks on to the 2:2 Telecine A cadence without any artefacts. However, with Telecine B there's noticeable flickering and noise reduction could be better.
Rounding off this impressive performance is clear and punchy CD playback, which is a little lightweight by audiophile standards but should do the trick for less discerning tastes.
Although the SD-490E offers nothing new or original, it gets it right in the most important area - performance. This is a much more competent DVD player than you'd expect for the money and as such deserves more than bedroom-bound anonymity - its video processing is slick enough to cope with the demands of a bigger system. OK, build quality is puny and it lacks features like DivX HD/WMA playback and a USB port but if you overlook these the SD-490E is a top choice.
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