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Toshiba SD-2108 DVD Player Print E-mail
Monday, 01 March 1999
Image Having waited out the first generation of DVD players to pass through the market, the $599 Toshiba SD-2108 is the first DVD player that has found its way into my home theater. After all the hype that accompanied the launch of DVD, I can say with confidence that the SD-2108 has fulfilled - even surpassed my expectations of the new format.

Providing a DTS output, ColorStream component video outputs, one S-video, one composite video and one component video output, the SD-2108 is ready to mate with even the most demanding video applications. Audio connections include both Toslink, and coaxial digital outputs as well as two pairs of analog audio outputs.

Before I get to the performance of the SD-2108, let me stroke the good people at Toshiba for designing a well thought out, intuitive and responsive remote that made using the player an absolute joy. I particularly enjoyed the 2X, 8X, and 30X forward and reverse speeds accessible by multiple pressings of the skip keys. Menu set-up was a cinch and the player never demonstrated any quirky performance behavior that can make even the most expensive high performance gear a pain to live with.
As for the video and audio performance of the SD-2108, there is great news and there is good news. The great news first. The overall video performance is outstanding, easily outperforming my reference Laserdisc player in every way. Color saturation and detail resolution in particular have been significantly improved over the Laserdisc format and the Toshiba's performance in these areas may not be bested by other DVD players at any price. Comparing CrimsonTide (Hollywood Pictures) in both formats drives the stake into the heart of Laserdisc as far as I'm concerned. Most of the internal shots of the submarine feature bright and colorful ambient and reflected light cast off the radar screens and control panels that bathe the actors in a eerie glow. The greens and reds are just so rich and intense, yet never deteriorate into noise around the outline of the forms. Detail and contrast are not casualties of this intense croma saturation. As the glistening beads of sweat coursing down the wrinkled and weathered brow of Lt. Wepps demonstrates, The SD-2108 posses excellent contrast and a level of detail only Hi-definition video may surpass. As for the digital motion artifacts we have been warned about regarding DVD, I noticed very little if any worth mentioning, with the performance of the SD-2108 and the improvements made over past formats in other areas this is a moot point.

Now the good news. Though not quite attaining the level of performance set by the video section, the audio performance of the SD-2108 posses a smooth, edge-free character that made my favorite movies a joy. Delicate sounds such as the rain falling outside the captain's office during it. Hunter's interview from Crimson Tide filled the room with gentle yet clearly defined transients yielding a convincing meteorological event. In other words, it sounded a lot like real rain. Dialogue was also well served by this clean transient performance. Clear and articulate, the dialogue in every film played through the SD-2108 was more engaging, easier to understand and fully involving.

The Downside
My only complaint, and it is borders on petty especially considering the price, lies in the bass portion of the audio spectrum. Explosions didn't have quiet the heft and gut wrenching extension that they could. For example, the crashing train from The Fugitive came across with a bit less impact then it did with a 3 1/2 times the price California Audio Labs CL-20. I know this seems to be an unfair comparison, but I view it as a testament to the over all excellence attained by the SD-2108

I just loved the Toshiba SD-2108. This little package has it all, ample input and outputs that make system flexibility a breeze and a feature laden remote that is as effective as it is simple to use. As for the performance of the SD-2180, State of the art video for $599 ? You got it. A crystal clear image with intense color saturation and outstanding rendition of detail and contrast rivaled only by players costing two to three times as much.

Sonically, The SD-2180's delicate, edge free presentation made for an engaging well balanced performance. While I could not find any real fault with the SD-2108, I did find the bottom end a tad reticent, lacking the ultimate slam provided by players with costlier, beefier power supplies. That one quibble aside, I could happily live with the Toshiba SD-2108 well into the future. My guess is, so could you.

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