Just got the HD-A2 today from FedEx (Thanks again Robert... I'll be sending more customers your way..). I photo documented the unpacking and install process (in case someone really needs to see it... and also for proof if something was damaged during shipping.
I played some of Troy and The Last Samurai from HD-DVD... booyah... that looks really awesome! I also played the beginning of Gladiator (the DTS ES DVD version) and lastly the 5th Element (Superbit edition) all the way through. No hicups at all - however my software is in pristine shape.. and not a real hard test.
Some things noticed:
1. Some have reported that it felt flimsy or even cheap. I never bought the HD-A1, so perhaps my perspective is a bit different. I wouldn't call it rugged but it seems solid enough for what it is. My DVD is a Pioneer DV-414 and that seems more 'fragile' imho.
2. Most pictures seem to indicate that the front bezel has a sort of chrome strip at the bottom.. it's shiny and chrome like but less pronounced than pictures depict it.
3. Device setup/menus were a breeze to understand and the manual had enough information to explain what everything does.
4. I have "old" video equipment and am forced to use component (BTW - my RPTV looks absolutely tremendous in 1080i and I would do the pepsi challenge with any new LCD panel out there.. I am not convinced that my set is too 'dated' at this point, and the lack of HDMI/HDCP upgrade is a real slap in the face..) - so if there is any question, SD DVD get played in 480p - and its a fine improvement form the other player, but not the 1080i I was initially hoping it would be.
5. DD+ and Dolby TrueHD do go out the optical SPIDF and are down-converted to DTS. It was VERY quiet.. Normally the BK will blow you out of the room at around -8db (in fact the Gladiator disc will set the NEIGHBOR'S house alarm off at that level on the opening scene).. at -5 db TLS was far too quiet. The Troy disc was much better but still lacking volume - and was the same for both the DD+ and TrueHD tracks. So I think the amplitude is lost or something in the down convert to DTS. I need to calibrate/config the amp for it (its set for 7.1 and the down convert is to 5.1) so this may change once everything is on the same sheet of music (pun intended).
6. Audio tracks on the DVD required going into the menu and changing it there for the 5th Element.. the audio button would not change it. Not a big deal, but it was odd. Both the HD DVD discs didn't have menu support to make that change and told me to use the audio button.
7. The new remote is far better (I prefer my GF Approved Harmony.. but if its important.. the new remote is a much better design).
8. Load times, imho, are about the same as most DVD players I have used.. I didn't find it inconvenient in the least.
9. Its VERY quiet. My IBM laptop fan was drowning out the sound of the player...
10. I dont really own any other Toshiba equipment, but I thought the manual was quite well written for "stereo equipment".
11. Not as many CD codecs are supported as I was hoping but the major stuff seems to be there - I haven't tested it yet.
12. The door has a little bit of scrape to it, but its nothing to get in a twist over. If it was a $2000 player I would expect a far more elegant process (and something worthy of a ta-da). However I am not displeased with what it does currently.
13. Makes use of a linux kernel, I am going to surpress the urge to test for exploit... but if you are a supporter of such things its good to know.
14. I dont like that when you cycle through the audio button you have no idea what's going on. You have to use the Display button to get a status window of whats going on.. It would have been nice to slip a GUI gfx on the lower part of the screen indicating your current selection... this is a minor complaint though.
So far I am real happy with the device.. I need to spend some more quality time with it, but so far my initial impressions are that this is a steal at under $500 for what it is doing.
Merry Christmas to everyone and thanks again to Robert at VE... a real pleasure doing business with you.