AVS Special Member
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Silicon Valley, Earth
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I received my HD-XA2 yesterday and am very impressed so far. I had previously purchased a Reon-VX based Denon DVD-2930CI and an HD-A1 and ended up returning both when I heard about the HD-XA2. I was mostly attracted to the HD-XA2 due the Reon chip for SD DVD playback. I was planning on staying out of the format war until a good dual format player came out. However, after hearing all the good things about the HD-XA2 I figured that there couldn't be any harm in getting a killer DVD player that also happens to play HD DVD. I only have a 38" CRT, so my set-up is definitely on the small end of the spectrum. Even so, with the HD-A1 there was a pretty big gap between SD and HD DVD PQ. The A1 was no slouch -- delivering a nice, detailed DVD image. I determined through test patterns that the scaler in my TV delivered detail better than the A1 at 1080i. So, I watch SD DVDs at 480p over analog component.
Now, bring on the HD-XA2. It pretty much combines the best of what I remember from the A1 as well as the 2930 -- and then some. One of my first tests was to compare King Kong HD versus SD. Sure there were scenes where you could easily tell the difference, but I would hate to do a blind test with a gun to my head on many of scenes. The XA2 is simply amazing with SD DVD material (I have no doubts that the differences would be more noticible on a bigger display). I am still experimenting, but it seems that turrning on all the filters and setting the edge enhancement to 2 works as a decent starting point. The biggest differences I recall in comparing to the HD-A1 is that the XA2 image is more 3D with more depth, smoother graduations, less noise and less visible compression artifacts. Compared to the 2930 there is simply finer detail. BTW, 480p is still slightly better than 1080i with the XA2. The result of all of this is an image that is close enough to HD on my TV that will be able to enjoy my large DVD collection for many years to come. I have added HD DVD to my Netflix preferences, but I just don't feel compelled to go out and buy a lot of HD DVD media like I do with SD -- at least until the price gap narrows significantly (and the format war settles down). Needless to say, I will be holding out on buying any kind of Blu-ray player for a while.
My tube is 3 years old and I feel that my next AV investment should probably be an ISF calibration. That may very well improve the HD performance.
So, if you are like me with a smaller display and want to "wait out the format war" I highly recommend the HD-XA2 as a way to do it in style. And if you have Netflix why not get HD DVD for the titles that are available? The monthly fees are the same.