Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
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After several hours of viewing and comparing I have come up with my opinion of how the HD-A1 compares to what I currently have been using.
The player itself is a good sturdy unit with some weight to it, which I like. The remote is average, not bad, not great, I htink it is fine... Now, let me get to the meat of this post:
My set-up is a Sharp 12k shooting onto a 110" Silver Star. My current DVD player is the Pioneer Elite 59avi and I have been watching DVDs up scaled to 720p for over 2 years now, as many of us have.
I used 2 HD-DVDs, Phantom and Samurai (both are 1080p). At first I ran both DVDs on the HD DVD player and thought that there really wasn't a big difference. Ahhh, but looks and first impressions can often be deceiving, if you don't A/B them. At first I used the 720p and then I tried the 1080i. 1080i was MUCH better than 720p, at least with my projector, which takes both 1080i and 720p, but not 1080p. Some day I hope to have a Ruby, or the like.
Once I found out which format looked best I wanted to do some A/B comparisons. I took the SD DVD of Last Samurai and played it on my Pioneer Elite and used the HDMI up converted to 720p output (which on the up converting Pioneer looks best with my projector since that is it's native resolution). The difference was very noticeable. Was it like watching Discovery Channel? No, but it was significantly better than the SD-DVD Pioneer combo, and that looks very good and usually wows people.. I had a good friend who has a great eye for video over and he is usually brutally honest if he feels I wasted money on another one of my crazy upgrades. He said it was well worth the $500 and he was very impressed with the difference. I agreed with him, and all I can say is that you have to look for the difference in detail, clarity, and color and it is obvious that HD-DVD is pretty darn good. I am sure there will be some other, even better, reference HD-DVDs coming out to take it a step further.
Now that being, do I feel that HD-DVD met my expectation? I would have to say no it didn't. I was expecting the picture to look even better, and it did not. However, it still is a noticeable difference and I feel it is well worth every penny as it has taken my system to yet another level of excellence. There may be some who feel that it is not worth the $500, and I could see where they would be coming from. It is not a night and day improvement, but it is an improvement that is noticeable. I can hardly wait for some of the other HD-DVDs to come out.
It does have a couple of bugs that have already been mentioned (DTS instead of DD, etc.). I have had mine lock up a couple of different times when I was trying to navigate too quickly through menus or chapter skips, but if you take it at a normal pace I doubt you will have a problem.
One last note, I also put the SD-DVD of Samurai in the Toshiba to compare how it did against the Pioneer in terms of just up converting and it seemed to do a better job than my Pioneer does, so that is a good thing. I then compared the SD-DVD up converted on the new Toshiba to the HD-DVD on the Toshiba and it was again obvious that the HD-DVD version was better than the SD-DVD.
In short, I have no complaints and for the improvement this $500 gave to my system I am VERY happy.