Until this week I've remained on the outskirts of HD/BD format war. I've been casually watching the drama unfold, all the while promising myself that I would not invest in either technology until there was a clear victor.
Up until today I have been using the Samsung HD960, which I purchased about 6 weeks ago. The HD960's up-conversion to 1080p was very, very disappointing. I've also had problems with brief picture freezes and terrible amounts of macroblocking/noise.
The positive reviews of the HD-XA2 on this forum are what finally knocked me off the fence. As someone with a very large existing collection of standard definition DVDs, the XA2's impressive up-converting ability was a major deciding factor in my choice.
I'm hooking the XA2 to my Samsung HL-S6187W 61" 1080p DLP HDTV via HDMI. My receiver is the Yamaha HTR-5760, which does not have HDMI. I'm tempted to upgrade now, but I'm going to be patient and wait until I can buy a receiver with HDMI 1.3. I have a full 7.1 Axiom/SVS speaker system.
After hooking up the XA2 I ran through the menus and made some basic adjustments, hooked up an Ethernet cable, added it to my LAN and then did a quick calibration with AVIA. I'll have time to play around with the settings in more detail this weekend.
I've had the player on since around noon today when it was delivered. So far I've not experienced any problems, lockups, playback issues or judder.
This is in no way meant to be a full review, but here are some random thoughts:
- The case and styling look great. I like the subtle red/blue glow around the power button. I could do without the blue glow underneath the player.
- The remote seems nice, but I use the Harmony 880. The Harmony had no problems communicating with the player.
- The menu system is easy to navigate. Network setup is a breeze.
- I ordered 11 HD-DVD titles to start off what I'm sure will wind up being another huge collection
They all looked and sounded absolutely draw-dropping--as good or better than anything I've seen on HDTV. I expected to be blown away, but the image and sound actually exceeded my expectations.
- The next test was something I was nervous about: up-conversion. I wanted to try the same DVDs that left me disappointed with the HD960, so first I put in SW Episode III. I couldn't believe the difference. I actually thought I was looking at an HD image at times. There is simply no comparison between the HD960 and the XA2 when it comes to up-converting to 1080p. I was so happy that I swear I almost started crying--suddenly my existing DVD collection didn't feel so outdated! Next I tried a couple LoTR extended editions and the difference between the two players was astonishing. Disc after Disc went into the player, and each time I couldn't believe the difference.
This is an amazing player, and any trepidation I felt about dropping a grand on it is long, long gone.
Thanks to the AVS community for all the information I found here that lead me to the XA2!