Home Theater Forum and Systems banner
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
402 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
When I got into the whole hi-def thing, it was just as an experiment: my HD display had never seen a HD signal, just 480p from my SD-DVD player. The plan was always that I would start building a library with HD-DVD (I jumped in with an A1 as a stop gap to a better player). In the event that BR became dominant, I would buy the absolute best HD-DVD player available to play my current library, and just continue Blu. Well, that’s just what came to pass, so I grabbed the XA2 (er, Onkyo HD805) after the Warner bomb, and for $700 to boot. Was it worth it? In a word, absolutely.

To provide some context, I am running video via component and audio via the analog outs. The first thing I noticed was that the player is whisper quiet. Coming from an A1 (which is still kicking, and is my backup player), I found the load times considerably shortened, but that never bothered me in the first place. I have always turned the player on first anyway, then everything else. That it is a clone of an XA2 (with some FW teaks from Onkyo) is apparent from the get-go, as the setup menus are nearly verbatim the Toshiba screens. There have been many detailed comparisons around the web, and the internals are virtually identical to the XA2 (even down to each component being labeled 'Toshiba'). Indeed, the only differences are cosmetic (more traditional face plate and no brushed metal sides/top). While there have been many comments on the look, I prefer this style over the XA2, and yes, I prefer the remote as well (the lack of a picture button not withstanding – but this is being addressed). In a nutshell, this thing is as solid a piece of AV equipment as anything I own.

As for the picture, it is stunning. I am currently limited to 1080i, and a major concern for me was the processing of the 1080i signal in the XA2. According to Kris Deering over at Secrets of Home Theater, the XA2 sends the raw 1080i signal to the Reon, converts it to 1080p, than back to 1080i for the component outputs. I was concerned that this may introduce a video lag resulting in some heinous audio sync problems. To my relief, I did not observe anything of the sort. The picture is absolutely gorgeous (even compared to my A1). The missing ‘picture’ button is an inconvenience, but I understand that Onkyo is working on adding this to the next firmware upgrade (supposedly this month). Note that the remote has a button specifically for new functionality.

The sound coming from the analog outs is also top-rate. Again, the setup is basically verbatim what the A1 has, the only exception being a missing distance setting for the sub. The c/o is again variable at 80/100/120 Hz, and the BM functionality seems to be flawless (according to Roger Dressler of Dolby Labs, the BM balance is correct, as it was for the A1). I don’t know if the LFE/SPDIF bug from the XA2 was carried over (I suspect it was), but I set SPDIF to PCM anyway. Since the upconversion is of no use to me right now anyway, for SD-DVDs I will continue to rely on my Denon 1600.

As for the negatives, they are few. First are the HDi menus. On the A1, they were all silky smooth, regardless of whether they were side or bottom sliders. On the Onkyo (and presumably the XA2), some are still smooth, with others are somewhat choppy. A minor annoyance to be sure, but the important thing is that the video itself is perfectly smooth with nary a glitch. Second, I received my first player error on the Onkyo when loading ‘Transformers’ the other day. The player simply stopped playback as the disc was trying to load with the message ‘4086 4023’ on the player and a blank display. Some research revealed that this is not uncommon, and is akin to ‘cannot read disc’ or something like that. I have not been able to reproduce it since.

In summary, I absolutely love this thing, and will be staying with HD-DVD for as long as it is around (which I suspect will be for quite a while as a niche-within-a-niche). In any case, even if it were to disappear tomorrow, my library will still give me years of enjoyment, as I move forward Blu.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
402 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was surprised as well, and more than a little put-off. My initial reaction was that Onkyo had welched, and simply rebranded a Toshiba as a cop-out. I had actually ordered an XA2 from Amazon (this was pre-Warner-bomb), but returned it thinking I would wait for the announcement of a decent dual format player at CES. Then came the bomb, and a dual format player became much more unlikely. After Toshiba dropped the ball again over the Christmas season, and then was silent at CES, I started looking at the Onkyo closer. Even though it is a clone, it is a clone of the single best HD-DVD player out there, and I like the more traditional look. Now to find a BR player with a decent analog section... It's looking like the upcoming Panny 50 player (paired with a Zektor analog switch for the analogs) is my only hope this round (assuming they fix the LFE bug).
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
Top