|Lexicon RT-20 Universal Disc Player|
|Home Theater Audio Sources CD Players|
|Written by Ben Shyman|
|Saturday, 01 April 2006|
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The downside of the RT-20 lies within its position in the marketplace and the timing of its release. As a universal disc player, the RT-20 is an exceptional product, clearly among the finest of its kind. The home theater industry, however, is just about to embark on a new era of high-definition home product this spring with the release of HD-DVD and Blu-ray. While it remains uncertain which of these competing technologies will eventually emerge as dominant, both technologies threaten the viability of the traditional DVD format. This is not to suggest that traditional DVD is dead. Quite the contrary. Both HD-DVD and Blu-ray players will all be backwards-compatible with DVD technology and many will scale to 1080p, thus keeping your old DVD collection viable for the foreseeable future. However, for potential consumers of the RT-20, the backwards compatibility of these high-definition players makes it extremely difficult to argue that spending $4,995 on the RT-20 is a smart investment. This is especially true when many of these high-definition players will easily break the $1,000 price point immediately upon their release. In defense of the RT-20, however, I would speculate that neither Blu-ray nor HD-DVD players will likely match the RT-20’s video performance with traditional DVD and certainly none will match its performance playing traditional CD. In addition, it is highly probable that few if any of these players will be compatible with high-resolution SACD or DVD-Audio discs.
The RT-20 is a step forward in universal disc player performance and a clear improvement over its predecessor. With audio, the RT-20 is hard to beat. It plays all formats currently available with exceptional precision and remarkable clarity. In terms of HDMI video, the RT-20 produces a dazzling, artifact-free picture that, absent enhancement by an outboard scaler at several times its price, is about as good as DVD gets. The RT-20 does, however, also likely represent a final step forward for DVD performance, as revolutionary, high-definition video disc formats are scheduled to enter the market almost any day now. So who should purchase the RT-20? In my opinion, audio enthusiasts seeking ultra-high performance with their legacy music collections, particularly those with SACD and/or DVD-A collections, will be thrilled with the RT-20. Furthermore, consumers with a passion for home theater seeking exceptional performance from their existing DVD collections should audition the RT-20. The reality is that if you are setting up a new theater with video as your top priority and do not have a large DVD collection, the RT-20 is not your best option. Those consumers should go straight into the HD-DVD or Blu-ray market. This said, the RT-20 is a best-in-class performer for what it is designed to do and consumers who are lucky enough to afford one will certainly be rewarded with years of enjoyment.