DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor



Another Review of HD-DVD

May 28, 2006

My copy of the June issue of Sound and Vision magazine arrived yesterday with a complete review of Toshiba's HD-XA1 HD-DVD player. Toshiba's HD-DVD Player

Were they impressed with the quality of high-definition video on a disc?

Well, ". . .the differences between the first six HD DVD movies that were released and their DVD counterparts were nothing short of astonishing. . ."

Their impression of the player itself was less enthusiastic.

But that's not what's important, especially since the release of Blu-ray Disc is just around the corner, with a decent selection of players for both formats to be on the market by fall.

But back to Sound and Vision's description of the picture:

"The first key improvement over DVD was an obvious gain in detail and a reduction of digital compression artifacts, most notably mosquito noise."

"There was also a huge difference in color and contrast."

They also found that the picture was noticeably better than HD from satelllite or cable, which have a lower bit-rate, and better than broadcast HD, which uses the less-efficient MPEG-2 compression.

I anxiously await Blu-ray Disc, which holds the potential for higher bit rates than HD-DVD because of BD's larger data capacity. (Which certainly does not ensure that BD content will be encoded at higher bit rates. Time will tell as the formats evolve.)

The Sound and Vision reviewer used two displays: the excellent HP 65" DLP 1080p TV, and a 720p TV. The video quality of movies encoded at full-specification HD (1920 x 1080) suffer when displayed on a 720p TV (which has fewer than half the pixels of a full-spec HDTV).

". . .the picture never fully captured the magic I saw on the well-tuned HP. This player wants -- needs -- a 1080p display."

Sound on the Toshiba HD-DVD player was also better than on DVD, because that player is capable of outputting the superior Dolby Digital Plus (versus plain Dolby Digital or DTS). However, audio connections were difficult and because HDMI 1.3 has still not been released, current players and A/V receivers cannot output the latest Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio lossless formats that HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc can handle.

These new audio formats will be spectacular if you've got the right equipment to hear their quality.

For the full review, click here.