HD DVD acid test

Toshiba A few days ago I took delivery of a Toshiba HD-EP30 HD DVD player so that I can get my head around HD in the home. I have a projector that I use on my courses, and it’s quite new, claiming to handle up to 1080P full HD. The projector, a Panasonic one, was quite cheap at about £600ish, and is an LCD one, so suffers a little from slightly milky blacks. But when I saw it in a demo, I was very impressed by the definition and brightness and the price.

So HD DVD was going to be an acid test for this projector and the whole idea of affordable high quality Home Cinema.

The HD DVD player cost £180 and came with seven (yes 7) free movies. I hooked it up via HDMI and immediately the projector recognised it. At first glance, the quality was very good, but not earth shattering. I watched chunks of ‘300’, ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ and ‘The Matrix’. All were impressive, but to me, looked like very clear DVD. That was until I compared it to my older DVD’s… I fired up my original DVD of ‘The Matrix’ and – OH MY GOODNESS! – what a difference! The picture was significantly smudgier, MPEG artefacts were visible and it quite frankly looked poor in comparison…

And I realised with utter horror, there is no going back to DVD for me…

After a long hard look and listen, I can say that the quality on a home projector is quite stunning. With no pixilation visible, no artefacts, in fact the only downer is that you can clearly see the 35mm film grain! Sound is also better. I have a great sound setup and DVD 5.1 sound is very good on it. I wasn’t sure it could be improved, but it is on HD DVD. I can’t quite explain what is better, it’s just more defined, especially dialogue tracks through the centre speaker.

Br Overall then, excellent, but you do need the setup to really ‘see the difference’. I later watched a DVD on my 32” TV, and DVD is absolutely perfect at the size, at a reasonable comfy sofa distance. I am just waiting now for my HD DVD of ‘Blade Runner’ to arrive and for a few hours one evening next week, my life will be complete.

I also joined the online Amazon DVD rental club as for £3.99 I get two HD DVD disks rented every month. I have learned my lesson with DVD and will only buy a select few must have HD DVD titles.

I can’t wait to get ‘Gone Fishing’ completed now, and mastered onto both HD DVD and BluRay, as I now know I can present the film at home in a near theatric quality – both sound and picture. Amazing!

Onward and upward!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

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