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First Critical Look At The HD DVD Experience Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 May 2006
HD DVD has officially been launched albeit, very conservatively. Early reports from AVRev.com staff (we bought six players already) speak glowingly of the picture as well as the sound from the new format. But all is not well under the hood of the first batch of players. 45 second delays between rebooting the player (note: Microsoft and Intel are behind HD DVD) are really causing GenX and GenY users to have to take a deep breath as they wait for a movie to load. Shortages of both software as well as hardware make landing players and discs often challenging in the very early goings of the format’s launch. Clearly Toshiba and their partners want to be able to pull back the reins if the players or discs fail to meet performance or reliability standards out of the gate. Imagine if Boeing looked at launching a new airplane or a satellite with this much confidence? Reportedly, the first shipment of HD DVD players is limited to 15,000 units domestically. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Toshiba engineers working on a software or firmware fix to the slow loading issue or the need to reboot the entire player periodically (man, am I glad I work on a Mac).

AVRev.com Readers Speak On HD Disc Formats:
In a recent study compiled during Meridian’s sweepstakes, compelling data was collected on how over 16,000 AVRev.com readers feel about the new HD disc formats.

What is your opinion of the upcoming HD video formats?

I'm going to wait to see who the winner is. 27%
I don’t care who wins, just give me Hi-Def on a disc! 23%
I think HD DVD is going to win! 18%
I will only support it if there is one single format. 14%
Blu-ray will be the champion. 9%
DVD is just fine with me. 6%
Other 3%

It is important to note, this data was collected before the launch of HD DVD and the delay in the launch of Blu-ray until June 2006. We interpret the data to mean that the format war is completely up for grabs to either camp. HD DVD certainly gets points for being first to the market. Blu-ray has a tremendous upside with Sony Pictures having over 3000 films ready in 1080p in addition to over 2,000 TV programs also ready for release in HD. One thing that is amazingly annoying about early HD DVD players is the fact they will only output 1080i signals when the first software titles are being released in 1080p. If you have invested early in a 1080p HDTV set shouldn’t you be able to get 1080p content from an HD disc? Not with HD DVD.

Should you take a wait and see approach to the new formats before investing as some computer-oriented web publications have suggested? We think that is overly harsh. If you have the means and want to be WOWED by new levels of video and audio performance - $500 or $800 for a player is a fair price to ask. I can tell you this much, as soon as I get my new reference theater installed, I will have both players running and I very well may sell off my DVD collection to only the best titles because who really wants to watch a movie at home that isn’t in HD?

Look for a full feature review of the Toshiba HD-XA1 and HD-A1 players June 1st, 2006 on AVRev.com

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