back to article Toshiba pitches HD DVD players as... DVD machines

A week after the battle with Blu-ray Disc swung further toward that rival format, Toshiba said it will promote its players on their ability to upscale standard-definition content for HDTVs. "Major initiatives... are designed to spotlight the superior benefits of HD DVD as well as the benefits HD DVD brings to a consumer’s …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Ian Hallsworth

    Makes for an expensive DVD plyer then

    My standard dvd player (Sony GX350) will upscale dvds and that cost me about 70 quid, which is a dam sight cheaper than a hddvd player. So Toshiba expect me to spend 200 quid for the same functionality as a 70 quid one. I somehow think that joe consumer will also spot this

  2. michael

    why indeed

    "Why buy a movie on HD DVD if the DVD's much cheaper and your player makes it look almost as good as the pricier product?"

    there was a point to the vhs/dvd switch you got a digital pic and extras and a nondegrading meida but the point of the dvd hd/blu switch is not easy to see

  3. Sir Runcible Spoon

    HD worthwhile?

    "Why buy a movie on HD DVD if the DVD's much cheaper and your player makes it look almost as good as the pricier product?"

    This is precisely why true HD hasn't been taken up by the mass-market. What's the point?

  4. Peter Kay

    It will boost the number of HD DVD sales..

    If someone buys a fancy new device, they're going to buy at least one sample disc/whatever to try it out.

    Of course, there are other reasons why it won't work.

    The best value HD DVD player in the UK already appears to bundle seven HD DVD titles; if the buyer isn't impressed with those, they won't buy any more.

    Unless they get the price well below 100 quid soon, and probably not even then, HD DVD is dead in the water. It's not worth it for the average consumer, and the 'bonus' upscaling capability won't be appreciated by the AV fans, who will buy more expensive and higher performing separates.

    Pioneer produce the DV600, which has sold at Scan for a bargain 80 odd quid (instead of 130-150 usually). That does upscaling, HDMI, SACD, SACD over HDMI(!), DVD Audio, DivX, USB, etc.. There's upscaling Sonys at about a hundred quid, the Oppo DV-981HD at 180 quid or so..

    When you start spending around 200 quid (The Toshiba HD-EP30), the question of whether to buy a PS3 becomes a reality. The PS3 is a capable Bluray player, plays CDs, also upscales DVDs (not as well as many other cheap players, but enough for many people), plays games as a bonus and looks to be having a bargain TV recording feature in a couple of months.

  5. Steve

    Bigger picture

    "Why buy a movie on HD DVD if the DVD's much cheaper and your player makes it look almost as good as the pricier product?"

    That's only a transitional problem. Once enough people start buying HD players, they'll simply stop selling the DVD versions of films.

  6. Henny


    so my Panasonic dmp-bd10 blu-ray player doesn't upscale and play standard DVDs then? Funny I though it did (and do a damn good job of it too!) maybe Toshiba knows something Panasonic doesn't...

    Marketing HDDVD players soley on their ability to upscale standard DVD seems a little silly when you can get standard DVD players (cheapest approx £60) which do upscaling already without the extra price tag associated with HD players (cheapest approx £170)...

    I seriously can't see any advantage to HDDVD anymore now that even more film companies have ditched it in favour of Blu-ray.

    RIP HD-DVD, it was fun while it lasted...

  7. EmperorFromage

    BD+ no thanks, I'll stick with SD a little while longer

    I brought home a $100 Toshiba player some months ago, and even though Transformers looks gorgeous in HD, Standard Definition DVDs aren't that bad. I have no plans to shell out for a BD player with festering DRM sores, especially as long as profile 2.0 is up in the blue. I am also keen to see how BD+ will play further havoc with early players.

    BD or HD DVD discs might prove to be a really tough sell for the average consumer. I for one will buy the odd HD DVD, and be happy with SD.

  8. Ash

    "Upscale" content looks crap.

    I watched a standard DVD of 300 on an "upscaling" DVD player onto a High-Def television.

    You'd never have guessed, but ALL of the scenes are shot against a green screen! And you can tell.

  9. Kevin Kenny

    @ why indeed/@HD worthwhile

    Upscaling whilst good is still nowhere near as good as HD-DVD/BluRay player tied to a decent 1080p display.

    I've got a PS3 and a Tosh EP-30 and whilst the upscaling kinda works, on a 40" panel you still see all sorts of artifacts. A movie that has been transferred to HD format and done well (even old/scratched film stock that has been cleaned up and processed properly) is still way better than any upscaled DVD. But of course it does all depend on the source material.

    I'm well impressed by it all. 2001 for example really gets a new lease of life and looks so fresh on Bluray compared to my DVD copy.

    But...unless you spend the readies for HD kit at both ends then you may as well not bother. My only gripe is the delay between DVD releases of films and the release of the HD version, as HD seems lag behind by about a month.


  10. David Cornes


    What the frek is "upconverting"???

  11. Anonymous John

    Some DVD recorders cost less than £100

    Why would anyone pay more than this for a machine just to play DVDs?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Give it up Toshiba

    Accept that nobody except a few hardcore early adopters want to buy into your format. You are getting slammed by Blu-Ray everywhere. Just license the technology and start making players that people want. You might start making money again that way.

  13. mark carlisle
    Black Helicopters

    plot? lost? toshiba?

    toshiba have really lost the plot on this one.

    who in their right mind will buy an hddvd player because its advertised 'winning benefit' is ' it'll make your existing dvds look even better'

    won't please the movie studios who are trying to get us to buy all those dvds again as hddvd/blu ray...

    i smell revenge

  14. Eyeball


    Surprisingly, my LCD telly manages to scale all content to its native display resolution; the DVD player doesn't need to.

  15. Kevin Peacock

    The War is not over

    The Toshiba Outlets are selling the HD-E1 HD-DVD player for £99.99

    Not much more than the £60 for an SD-DVD player someone quoted earlier.

    And for that £99.99 you get a number of free HD-DVDs, an HDMI cable, and an excellent up-scaling DVD player.

    It would be daft NOT to buy one. At this price point, I intend to buy one for the bedroom.

    As Tony alluded to in the article, this is a smart move which will attract mainstream customers.

    IMHO this war is far from over.

  16. Josh

    Remember much of this is aimed at the US market

    The A3 is now MSRP $150 and you can find it cheaper. The A30 is $200 and the A35 is $300. Now one of my friends two months ago jumped on the A3 for this exact reason (he knows it isn't the greatest player in the world). He got the A3 for $200 and it came with 7 free movies. Now factor in an equivalent upscaling dvd player is around $100 and that means he payed $15 a piece for 7 movies. Not the absolute greatest deal because he didn't get to pick all the movies, but he actually liked all of them, so it worked out for him. Now do the same thing and the movies are now $7 a piece and that is a good deal. I am debating whether or not to jump on this. It is sad that HD DVD seems to be losing as their stuff is superior in spec to bluray in every possible way (for the consumer) except for storage space (which to me doesn't matter - i can handle swapping disks). With profile 2.0 bluray will equal HD DVD finally, but I will probably take another two years to get a player that is regularly at the $200 price point. The thing that makes me sickest is that the current batch of bluray players won't be upgradeable to 2.0 and thus the bluray group gives a big f you to those early adopters who are their best supporters. It still stands that now is not the right time to buy a HD player. HD DVD is losing and bluray players are already obsolete.


    There needs to be a dirty laundry icon here.

  17. Karl Lattimer


    Hmm, even using a bilinear interpolation DVD's don't upscale well from 576 lines to 1080, its almost double the resolution! Of course, there are plenty of people out there who simply won't know the difference and will walk out of currys thinking all their DVDs are now HDDVDs...

    I'm sure the sale of goods act will have something to say about this...

  18. Iain

    Upscaling, and upscaling.

    While the PS3 is now even better, a Toshiba HD-EP30 will wipe any £70 DVD player's backside at upscaling. Frankly, my Sony TV's internal upscaling is better than the £70 upscaling players I've tried, so you're better off leaving them in standard-def mode.

  19. Kevin Kenny

    @BD+ no thanks, I'll stick with SD a little while longer

    I dunno what all the fuss and consternation is about the DRM on BluRay. Ultimately the HD consortium will do their level best to cripple HD-DVD with stronger DRM as time passes. And as that time passes by and if BluRay takes off as the leading content delivery platform then there will be more players out there (in pc's) such that attention will turn to breaking BluRay DRM.

    Truth be told, the DRM infection on movie disks doesn't amount to much more than a hill of beans to me (i get more pissed off not being able to skip through the usual DO NOT STEAL crap at the front of a movie). As long as I look after my disks then I see no need to have a 'backup'. If the media 'degrades' after say 5-7 years of regular use then by the time it comes to replace (hopefully not) I'll find that same film on ebay or play or wherever for under a fiver (stuff does wear out just like hoovers and bits in your car).

    Yeah DRM sucks, but ultimately its the price of a disk and whether the movie is any good that sways whether I'll buy or not.


    ps: I'll get my coat and fire extinguisher.

  20. DrXym

    Would probably be an okay DVD player

    HD DVD might be drowning, but I see no reason that Toshiba can't get rid of its stock of players by touting their superior HD playback functionality. Even crappy DVD discs benefit from progressive scan upscaling, especially over HDMI.

    Sure, there might be cheaper upscaling players, but Toshiba is still a quality brand and if we're talking $150 or so, then that's not too bad.

    Just don't buy these players expecting them to have a future as an HD DVD because they probably don't.

  21. dale

    ps3 upscaling

    m ark, if you think the ps3 upscales well maybe you should get those eyes checked.

  22. Peter Kay

    People pay more than 100 quid because the devices are better

    To state the obvious : because they're better.

    Even the low end players tend to have most features : DD, DTS, Analogue, Optical and HDMI out.

    Still, if you have a discerning eye and a half decent display device, the higher end players tend to have decoders capable of fixing things such as the 'Chroma Bug' which have existed in lower end players.

    For people which have a decent sized display device (TV or projector above 32"), an external scaler (something which scales the DVD resolution to the display device's resolution, and to remove scanlines) is often more expensive than a DVD player with a scaler built in.

    The more expensive the DVD player, the more expensive the scalar, and the less apparent any flaws in an upscaled image when projected on a screen several feet wide.

    100 quid players are also built down to a price. You'll find lower quality components and more electrical noise, especially if it's a multifunction device. Using the digital rather than analogue outputs can help this, though.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    "It is sad that HD DVD seems to be losing as their stuff is superior in spec to bluray in every possible way (for the consumer) except for storage space (which to me doesn't matter - i can handle swapping disks)."

    What?! Oh, right yes, you are joking (I hope). Thought for one minute you were being serious. There is hardly anything superior about HD-DVD vs BluRay and tbh vice versa. They each have a strong following, but only recently has Blu Ray started to pull away in sales. Maybe you could discuss the 'bad side' of the consumer purchase of a BR player, but why buy one when you can buy a PS3 for less?

    "superior" indeed.. ha ha! Nice one!! :o)

  24. Peter Kay

    The Toshiba HD-E1 is only 1080i

    Thus, a complete chocolate teapot of a HD DVD player. It might be passable as an upscaling DVD player, but it's sod all use as anything else.

  25. Kevin Peacock

    @Peter Kay

    That is why it is only £99.99! Remember we are talking about the mainstream here. I only have 720p capable TVs having bought into HD relatively early, and as mentioned I will only be buying one of these for the 26" 720p capable HDTV I have in the bedroom.

    Want better, then pay more. It is still only £180ish for the HP-EP30 which does 1080p and 24fps if you want it. Plus the 7 free HD-DVDs.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Upscaling, upscaling, upscaling

    Seems most don't even know what it actually refers to. Upscaling as originally discussed here (and as implemented beautifully albeit at times a bit noisily by the PS3) refers to decompressing the video straight into the larger resolution. That is _not_ the same thing as simply interpolating the missing pixels spatially (which is what your HD display has to resort to when it feed it with an SD source). Think extrapolation in (spatial) frequency domain vs interpolation in time (or space) domain.

    Dale, care to elaborate on that? Mine seems to produce a tolerable result on the 1080p LCD it's driving thank you very much. Obviously not the same as H.264 at 1080p but still about the best quality you can get out of a paltry MPEG2 DVD.

  27. Phil


    Been reading AVforum where a lot of people are saying exactly what Mark says, the PS3 is one of the best upscalers out there.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    TVs upscale..

    As previously mentioned, most of the new HDTVs these days will do an element of upscaling for you. I can only see this growing, and improving to an extent.

    Granted, upscaling is not perfect, but what would you prefer to happen, each of your sources needing the ability to upsource, or the destination upscaling everything by itself? I don't fancy upgrading all my source boxes (DVD, Digital/Sky box, potentially even VHS...) when I could just upgrade the TV!

  29. Josh

    @ Anon, @Peter


    I was correct in what I stated. First of all the formats are completely equal when it comes to PQ and SQ. They both support pretty much all the same codecs and stuff so the quality issues are how they are mastered. Now look at BR profile 2.0. It adds features such as mandatory storage, network connections, hardware for picture in picture, etc. HD DVD already has these. Also, initially BR Java or whatever it is called was broken (and still is on some players, needs profile 1.1 I think - although I could be wrong). So what can BR do that HD DVD can't? Hold more bits and that is pretty much it. It also has some major drawbacks like tougher encryption (I will give this as not a draw back as long as they don't kill your player's key so you can't watch new movies) and region coding (something I thought the Europeans would actually not like to have). The real issues is you cannot buy a fully functioning BR player yet so it is kind of sickening that they are going to win the format war. I haven't figured out how the extra push for BR happened, but if you walk into an electronics store here you will see BR players taking up most of the shelf space (not just because they are about twice the volume of the HD DVD ones - they haven't gotten smaller like the A3/A30/A35 have - again not a big deal but yet another way that HD DVD is better). However, if you look at the numbers of players sold there is a huge advantage for HD DVD. It was almost as if the retailers were hiding the drives. Now when I say this I am talking about standalone players, because the PS3 is found in another section of the store entirely.


    Go look at the BR support sites and you will see tons of posts like yours. They forget one thing. HD content is typically recorded at 24FPS. 1080i can effectively handle 30FPS and 1080p 60FPS. How does the p help you over i? I am not saying it isn't good future proofing, but I find the push for 1080p rather humorous because at least here in the states there is no source for 1080p content. HD that you can get your hands on is 720p, 1080i, or 1080p24 (<1080i).


    I am going to reiterate the most important points to me. You don't want to buy a BR player because it really isn't consumer friendly (not up to newest spec, region coding, and all our customers are thieves DRM + extra layer of protection for shits and giggles) and is expensive. You do not want to buy HD DVD, because the cheapest model is 1080i (ignorant reason), going to lose the war of content providers (very good reason), smaller disc capacity (I'm too lazy to swap discs), and has all our customers are thieves DRM as well. At the outset of the format war it seems to me that the choice that was best for the consumer was HD DVD. Now that the content providers have pretty much chosen BR that obviously cannot be true.

  30. Alex
    Paris Hilton

    @Josh (Toshiba Employee)

    Do you get kick backs? lol!

    You forget that HD-DVD players that were bought before now will not be able to play the HD-DVD Type 2 discs that are being developed. At least with Blu Ray they can play any disc in the region (although quite a few are still released as region free), but maybe with out PIP etc.. big wow. Would prefer to play a disc and not have PIP than have to check every disk I bought to see if it was just a single or double layer HD-DVD.

    Sorry, I think you are heavily biased - I also assume that you have a HD-DVD player and that you are worried about it. Don't be - there's still plenty of life in the ol' girl still :o)

    Personally (I'm going to sound like a cracked record here again) - I don't really care which one wins. They both have great possibilities, although HD-DVD has the greatest to lose because it's 'currently' only used for films, where as BR is being used for films, games, and storage. 3 strings to the bow to one string to the bow.

    P.S. Remember that DRM is to protect the content, not to brick a machine.. Which is fine by me as the prices are coming down nicely. Just think people are expecting "the moon on a stick" these days as it's truly pathetic!

    [I'd like Paris and her Japanese contestants please, and don't spare the bikinis!!]

  31. me

    I have the Toshiba HD-XA2

    It "upscales" beautifully! My SD DVD's are indistinguishable from their HD counterparts. I can rent SD DVDs from Netflix and watch a "flawless" movie on my DLP HDTV. (Acronyms, anyone?) Yes, I bought early and will probably regret it. But I don't look back with any regrets, because I have near HD-DVD quality with all my old DVDs. So it's not a total loss.

    I suspect that by the time BD becomes the clear winner and begins to get accepted in the market and broadly seen as the replacement to DVD, it won't matter anymore. Look for subscription based internet distribution of movies like Netflix and Apple (surely others, too) are working on right now. Meanwhile, I'll just keep watching my "near HD-DVD" quality SD DVDs.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    upscaling toshiba hd

    the upscaling on my hd e1 is perfect!

    but the difference is not just on upscaling

    even on standard 576p with no upscaling it wipes the floor with my sony dav dz that cost me £299

    the colours are so much more vibrant and has no jaggeis edges and that is without scaling

    remember that the upscaling dvd players you buy now are the prices that they were meant to be based on the components inside,now look back at the original price of the toshiba hd players,

    its like buying a porche 911 for the price of a fiat uno

  33. Josh


    Paragraph by paragraph comments

    I am in no way affiliated with Toshiba and I do not own an HD DVD player or any other Toshiba product that I can think of. I have done a lot of looking into purchasing an HD player and to be honest I really believe for the consumer if the content was equal for both that HD DVD is superior. I did not hide that in my analysis, but my analysis is based upon as much information as I can find, not the fact that I like the color red better (I actually prefer blue).

    I am not sure what you are referring to with Type 2 Discs. I haven't seen anything that references them. Unless you are referring to 3-layer disks. They will probably never be implemented they were just an attempt to negate the only advantage BR had (capacity) the 3-layer disk is 51GB. BR has talked about having more than 2-layer disks as well. Both BR and HD DVD physical disk specs were built with this possibility in mind (yes, we don't know whether or not it would require new reading hardware or not). I sincerely doubt that disks of this sort would ever be put out for the compatibility reason that you mentioned (but I could be wrong).

    Again, I agree that I sound biased. What is the difference between biased and informed? I sincerely believe that HD DVD is the more consumer friendly/ready format. Here is another way that it is better. BR has higher royalties that HD DVD. How much? I don't know. Would it significantly change the cost of a movie? Probably not. (It would come more into play in the computing world (blank disks), but that is a completely different topic, so lets stay away from it.)

    I really don't care who wins as well, but right now I can buy a fully functional HD DVD player for $200 (HD-A30). I probably will not be able to say the same about BR for another two years at the rate the prices are coming down. I actually disagree with your analysis of who has the most to lose. If HD DVD loses, the format dies and yes they are out a bunch of money. If BR were to die Sony must continue to produce BR disks. The number of disks made will still be proportionally small for just the PS3, which means that they may never get to reduce manufacturing costs for games down and end up losing developers, further hurting the relatively weak PS3 sales. Although I think the PS3 and BR will do alright. The only question is do we wind up with two video formats or does HD DVD die out?

    My comment on DRM is very loaded and misplaced for this conversation. DRM is treating customers as thieves. I agree some protection should be there so it isn't incredibly simple, but in both BR and HD DVD when they make new disks they can make them unplayable by older recorders (what decrypt keys are allowed and not allowed). This is somewhat scary because they can cause your older player to be obsolete so you have to buy a new one, just because they say that your old one is insecure. I would assume they would only do this in rare occasions, but it is quite scary. It does however, show the need for the ability to update the programming (thus the network port works nicely for that, but downloadable disks work as well).

  34. Anonymous Coward


    "We've got warehouses full of these things! How can we get rid of them without sending them off to landfill?! Quick, get the Dymo out, if we're quick we can sell them as 'HD' DVD players and hopefully no-one will work it out. "

    To be honest I'm waiting for the market to settle down, and have no particular preference.

    But trying to shift HD-DVD units because of the way they play DVDs isn't really a good bit of marketing, as there aren't really many possible interpretations for their current marketing attempts.

    Honestly, they'd be better off saying nothing at all.

  35. Morely Dotes

    Who cares?

    BD, HDDVD... It's still crap. Not the storage capacity, not the resolution - the content.

    And the Beeb doesn't seem to be releasing Doctor Who on either disk format, so I say f*ck 'em both, there's nothing worth having. I am *DAMN* sure not replacing all my existing DVDs with a new copy. Although I suppose the mindless sheeple will. The same ones that "voted for" GW Bush and Blair, eh?

  36. Peter Kay

    The difference between p and i

    Interlaced resolutions are by definition slower, more flickery, it's more likely scanlines will be seen, fast motion artifacts will be more apparent, etc.

    This is especially a problem if your display is CRT based.

    I would also note based on numerous of the above posts

    1) It's all about the mastering. Crap mastering, crap result.

    2) If you can't see a difference between upscaled SD DVD and HD DVD/Bluray, get a better (and larger) display and/or your eyes tested. SD DVD is *not* perfect on a large, high quality display.

    3) There are numerous disagreements that the PS3 is 'the best SD DVD scaler'

    I would take both Thereg and AVForums (and avsforum) with a large pinch of salt; many of the people there are not experienced enough to recommend anything other than the one system they bought themself..

  37. Iain

    @Morely Dotes

    The BBC aren't even shooting Doctor Who in HD, so it's never going to look any better than the DVDs you can already buy. The HD budget is reserved for 'superior' drama like Torchwood. Oops.

  38. Marc Wilson

    Many will just wait it out.....

    Like many people, especially those who are veterans of VHS vs Beta, or Minidisk vs DCC, I'm just going to wait until the battle is won.

    I still have DVDs I've not watched, so there's no way I'm rushing out to replace my current kit with the latest thing. I'm not enough of a perfectionist any more to have to have a perfect system- I'll wait, let the Pioneers and Early Adopters suffer the pain, and I'll buy when the products become commodity items.

    You'd have thought that the industry could learn, settle its differences behind locked doors, and come out with a forced smile behind a single standard. They got it wrong with tape, they managed to get their collective act together for CD- then it's all gone downhill again.

  39. mark carlisle

    @iain -doctor who hd

    russell t davies already stated that the budget for Doctor Who didn't stretch to hd due to the number of cgi shots..

    tom baker looks good on sd anyway

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like