The rear is fairly standard with the all important HDMI port, a set of component video connectors, SCART and composite video. You also get stereo analogue audio outputs, along with both optical and coaxial digital audio outs.
The remote is neither disappointing nor exciting – it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a DVD player these days. However, considering that this player is well over twice the price of Toshiba’s SD-480E, I can’t help but feel that a slightly improved remote control would have been nice – just some backlighting for key buttons would be enough.
The feature list of the XD-E500 certainly looks good. What you have is a DVD player that can upscale to 720p, 1080i and 1080p – it will even output 1080p 24Hz, but there are some issues with that, which I will come to later. There’s no integrated audio decoding hardware, so if you want to make use of Dolby Digital or DTS soundtracks, you’ll need to output the bitstream digitally and use an external receiver or amp.
You also get DivX support, so if you’ve encoded a library of video on your PC, you’ll be able to play it back on your TV using the XD-E500. However, it’s worth noting that there is no USB port or network connectivity on offer, so if you did want to playback DivX or Xvid content, you’d first have to burn it to a CD or DVD, which is somewhat cumbersome.
Of course it’s the DVD upscaling that’s the real party piece of this player, and the question is whether it’s really any better than upscaling players costing a fraction of the price. The XDE technology used here was announced a couple of weeks ago at IFA, along with Toshiba’s Resolution+ technology, which works at the other end of the chain in TVs. According to Toshiba, XDE analyses the source image, and sharpens edges to reduce jaggies, which often plague upscaled content. It also applies colour and contrast processing to, allegedly, create a more vivid and lifelike scene. The result, according to Toshiba, is a “near HD” image, that allows consumers to enjoy their existing DVD library on their HD screen, without the need to invest in a new standard – read, Blu-ray!