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Elite Shackster , HTS Moderator Emeritus
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I am really interested in getting an HD-DVD player.

I currently have a Panasonic RP-91 progressive scan that I really like. It zooms in on non-anamorphic movies, plays DVD-Audio, is really quiet in operation, and has a great picture, albeit 480p.

I had no idea HD-DVD players had dropped in price that much! I had written off both HD formats due to price and the war.

But for $250, it's a tough deal to pass up, especially when I need a disc spinner for my audio system and was going to spend that much anyway (I can always move the Panny upstairs).

So, what ones are good and what are the "stay away at all costs" ones?

I see the Toshiba HD-A2 is the cheapest, then there's the A20 and the XA2. Aaagh!

I won't even get into other brands yet.

So I'm just starting my research, but this looks promising. Please let me know if you all have any advice. I will post any search results or interesting conclusions I find here.

thanks,
Anthony
 

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Well, if you are planning on using the HD-DVD player for CDs too, I would be hesitant to get the A2. I have one and recently someone came over and played some CDs on it (something I don't usually do) and there was at least one audio drop per track.
This was running the latest firmware (2.0).

I don't know if this is a problem introduced with 2.0 or if it's something that can/will be fixed in a future update or if the other players (A20, XA2) don't have this problem, or if it's just my player. But, I would at least make sure I could easily return the player if it proves to be a long term problem.

As far as which model to get? That's a tough question. I'm using the A2 on a 720p television with the optical output. Although this doesn't give me Dolby TrueHD sound for HD-DVDs, it is a definite and noticeable improvement over the standard DTS/DD I used to get.

The A20 outputs 1080p but lots I've read makes me think it's not worth the extra money. The XA2 on the other hand appears to be worth the extra money - especially if you want to take advantage of the analog outputs. But, it is extra money. For me a $250 HD-DVD player was what I was looking for and I've been very happy with the A2.

Hope this helps,


Mitch
 

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Elite Shackster , HTS Moderator Emeritus
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
From what I've been reading so far, it sounds like the A2 is good but doesnt' have coax digital or analog multi-channel out. The XA2 has that and 1080p. The A20 only has the 1080p, but otherwise, same limitations as the A2.

I have a Sanyo PLV-Z4 720p projector and an old Marantz SR-18 (or was it 17, I forget) used as a preamp. So direct would probably help me, but 1080p would not.

I'm most interested in quality of regular DVDs. I have a couple hundred and would hate for them to go down in quality.

From everything I read, it seems like its best to skip the A20. Either get a bargain with the A2 or spring for the XA2.

But I haven't made up my mind, so keep those recommendations coming! :)
 

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I have the A2, and although I love it, I'll probably be getting an XA2 when the price drops again, or whatever the next gen version of the XA2 is.

If you can spare the money, I'd say get the XA2.
 

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Elite Shackster , HTS Moderator Emeritus
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's the problem. I can justify an A2 today. With moving soon and some house repairs needed on our current one, the XA2 just isn't in the budget.

I've just read a lot about glitches and bugs in the A2

"Well that's it, the A-2's always were a bit twitchy . . ." -- Bishop, Aliens :)

But considering that's half the price of my current DVD player or the first one I ever got (a Sony the first year of DVD rollout), it's definitely a steal. Toss in $150 of free movies . . .
 

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I can't say that I have any glitches with my A2. It has performed flawlessly, but I haven't played any CDs through it though.

The price is definitely getting to the right area. I was kind of in the same boat, teetering between the A2 and the XA2 (the A20 just didn't impress me as being worth that much more money than the A2 just for 1080p). Like I mentioned, I am definitely going to get an XA2. What I'll do is move the A2 to our bedroom. If you can't wait, I'd probably say think about doing the same... go with the A2 and snag an XA2 later on when the prices drop even further.

By the way, the A2 does an excellent job feeding my projector high def movies movies. Just something about seeing the input display resolution on the projector menu as 720p or 1080i ;)

And it will do HD over component out but you have to do a little trick that I won't get into here. I have mine setup with the HMDI out going to my 55" SXRD and the component out going to my projector. Like I mentioned, no glitches whatsoever so far! :)
 

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Elite Shackster , HTS Moderator Emeritus
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was commenting about the Blacker than Black (BTB) and some deinterlacing things I came across.

But after further reading, it seems these were fixed in a firmware update. I'm going to run this by the wife. With the free movies, I'm pretty sure I'll end up getting one (the A2). To appease her, I will also get the entire Planet Earth HD-DVD set!

So no complaints on upconversion, though? Regular DVDs look fantastic, or do you just feed the projector the 480p and let it do the upconversion work? I know my projector's upconverter is junk so I need the player to do a good job.

Thanks again for all the feedback.

Anthony
 

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I think it does an exceptional job upconverting.
 

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Just to add to my comments, playback of SD and HD DVDs has been fine.
And, I believe the blacker than black issue was only for those folks using a HDMI-DVI adapter.

I've only had one glitch during playback which turned out to be a dirty HD disk. Once I wiped it off on my pants I didn't have any more problems.

The upconversion of SD is very good. I don't notice much of a difference between my TV's upconversion of 480i input and the A2's upconversion of SD to 720p or 1080i, but I personally think that's a testament to my TV's (Sony) upconversion and not a dig at the A2's upconversion. So, if your projector's upconversion is bad, you'll be very pleased with the A2's upconversion.


Mitch
 

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Elite Shackster , HTS Moderator Emeritus
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I haven't gotten it yet. Running it by the wife. I think she'll go for it, but with our current "save save save" strategy, I may get a :thumbsdown:
 

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I've got (2) A2's both with firmware 2.0 and have never had a problem with either. I've run them to a 720p LCD, a 1080p LCD and several projectors, all without problems, including CD playback. You can really find some good deals on both A1s and A2s if you keep your eyes peeled.

Check out the HTShack Shopping Mall on this site as I believe there's some under the $200 threshold as we speak.
 

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Shack Shopping Mall may have a good price... :whistling:
You know Sonnie, it took me three months to figure out we had a store. :rubeyes: And then I forget to check it... color me bad. :huh: Now if Anthony and I could take care of our 'issues'...:newspaper::spend:
 

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It's basically an Amazon store front, but we do get a small commission which helps pay the bills... :T

FWIW... I have owned the A1 and now the XA2. I have enjoyed both and believe they are among the best upconverting players on the market. For a couple hundred dollars the A2 is a bargain and you could hardly go wrong at that price. I wish I could find a Blu-ray player at that price... I'd be all over it.
 

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It's basically an Amazon store front, but we do get a small commission which helps pay the bills... :T

FWIW... I have owned the A1 and now the XA2. I have enjoyed both and believe they are among the best upconverting players on the market. For a couple hundred dollars the A2 is a bargain and you could hardly go wrong at that price. I wish I could find a Blu-ray player at that price... I'd be all over it.
By the end of the year you just may be able to get a BD player for that price- but not because they are being competitive, it would be due to stores reducing inventory to make way for the new 2.0 players.

From what I understand, very few players now will be compatible with the new standard. The only assurance they have to meet is that they will at least still play a Bluray DVD, but not necessarily have the enhancements that the new firmware release has to support. So it makes sense that towards the end of the year prices will plummet for players that won't be able to upgrade.

That wasn't a BD slam, I have both formats as you know, I'm just stating that people are going to hold off buying players, especially the closer it gets to the new release. Stores and manufacturers will have to do something with current inventory. Personally I think they should be required to put stickers on the box of any player that won't pass the new standards. A lot of people don't even know about it and spending $500 plus on something that 6-8 months down the road is almost obsolete isn't fair to the consumer. Sure they will still play movies, but that's a lot of money to spend just for a vanilla player.

In that respect I feel HD DVD is far ahead of BD. It almost seems like Sony had to do something or they realized they lost before things ever started, so partially functional players were released before they really should have been. I'm not saying the current players are bad, but so far they haven't come through on their promise of 50GB discs with better PQ and sound (not really the players fault on that one) as well as other functions that are hit and miss depending on the model and firmware. As a few other members pointed out most BD movies are single layer 25GB discs, only a few are dual layer discs. Actual movie size isn't that much different than a single layer HD DVD disc with little to no special features, and it's a wash when it comes to the 30GB HD DVDs. Why did I mention disc size? Mainly because Sony made a big deal out of it but hasn't really delivered yet.

I really can't comprehend a company that sells a product where a person literally could buy a brand new player and naturally most people buy at least one movie in the player's format, only to find out they can't watch the movie (or access certain features) until they do a firmware update. That exact scenario has happened to a few people for a couple of titles and certain players. Wouldn't that be like buying a car and then finding out reverse doesn't work? Okay maybe that was too harsh of an analogy... how about buying a car only to find out you can't open the trunk or hood until you take it back in for some sort of update? Granted some of the Toshiba players benefited from an immediate firmware update, but at least all the basic functionality was there.

In a way I don't fault them totally because if they waited until everything was hashed out and all the bugs were worked out they would have lost for sure. Also it helped drive the Toshiba prices down way before they probably were wanting to do a massive price drop, and lest we forget all the free movies both camps are offering lately! (Although I'm still waiting for my 5 free HD DVD titles! That was a bad PR move on Toshiba's part that's for sure. I almost feel they should give me a couple more now ;) )
 

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Some players have the hardware that will be able to be updated, others don't.

Maybe we should get a thread going to identify which players will be able to and which ones may not... sorry Anthony we took a slight detour!
 

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And there's no way to upgrade the firmware to the 'new' standards? That's not good business if you ask me.
You need a second hardware supported video channel for the HD PiP required by BD profile 1.1 (Video). You need hardware ethernet connection for BD profile 2.0 (Live). The PS3 should be hardware capable of both given new firmware -- but BD player standalones don't now have the second HD video channel for PiP. Just a few have a ethernet connection.
 
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