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back to article Toshiba HD-EP30 HD DVD player

The HD format wars may be inching forward on the content front, but on the hardware side Toshiba has made a very aggressive move with the HD-EP30 - an HD DVD player which could be yours for less than £200. If you’re worried that the EP30 is a cut-down player then you needn’t be - it includes most of the features the average …

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Pirate

PS3

Why bother with a new HD DVD player when you can have an upgradable next gen games console, with BluRay playback for 100 beer tokens more, that is not going to be devoid of content in 6 months.

The argument that a device comes pre-bundled with 7 pre-selected movies is worthless as, to be honest, you'll watch these movies a couple of times - max. Then what ?

Better to not spend the cash than waste it on dead technology that will just be a DVD player for the next 12 months whilst you regret not being able to play Dave Gilmore - Remember that night on BluRay and all the wasted beer tokens that could have been spent on a general entertainment system , or more importantly - Beer !

Beer IS food.

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Give Up Toshiba

When will Toshiba give up on HD-DVD, the war has been won.

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Happy

I've got...

..a Betamax player for sale, if anyone's interested?

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This post has been deleted by its author

@ the invevitable bu-ray fanboy stampete

Here we go, cue the Blu-Ray fanboys coming in.

Paul Brain, why bother with 7 movies that you'll watch a couple of times? Good point. Why bother with any HD-DVD or Blu-Ray players at all, since you'll only watch the movies a couple of times? Oh yeah, thats right. Blu-Ray is inviolable and holy. Never mind its region coding, its pathetic standalone players, or the absolute mess that is the BD profiles.

Lets face it, at £120 with 7 free movies this is an absolute bargain. It is almost worth it as a plain DVD upscaler, but with the HD capabilities and the free discs it is a total bargain.

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Flame

"it includes most of the features the average consumer will need"

Except of course for 75% of Films from Hollywood Studios ...

And only a single "decline of the format" comment in a 90% review.

At least there was no repetition of the oft-quoted "Region Free" nature of HD DVD (it's not), or the fact that it has the "advantage" of being able to upscale standard DVD's (so can all Blu Ray players, and all other HD DVD players come to that).

I hope no-one is conned by this review into actually buying this machine. Just remember if you really want one; it's bound to be cheaper next month.

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Stop

Why?

So is this the last HD DVD player to be released? Seriously though time to pack it in and lick their wounds I think.

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@andy pellew

"At least there was no repetition of the oft-quoted "Region Free" nature of HD DVD (it's not),"

Oh yes it is.

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Who needs yet another shiny box?

Its a great bargain, if you don't already have a DVD player and have some bizarre obsession about *never* buying a PS3, but in 12 months time this thing will be a doorstop.

Even now there is diminishing content available, and its only going to get far worse come May.

So you're going to have to get a Blu-ray player eventually, like it or not, which means yet another shiny box under the telly and even more wires round the back.

And as that'll be able to upscale DVD's too, what will the HD-DVD do once you've watched your movies a few times?

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It's a really good price

It's a really good price, then you can switch to a combo player later when they are cheaper.

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re: Kevin Peacock

"Why bother with any HD-DVD or Blu-Ray players at all, since you'll only watch the movies a couple of times?"

I own a PS3 and I have just one Blu-Ray (Casino Royale came free with it). However, I've rented loads of Blu-Ray movies and intend to continue doing so. With the decline of HD-DVD kicking in fast, how much longer will you be able to do that for HD-DVD?

By the way, I don't have much of an opinion either way on the technical merits of one or the other format, but obviously I now have a bias towards Blu-Ray because it saves me buying another player.

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Unhappy

7 free movie deal ends tomorrow

You're a bit late with this review - the '7 free movies' offer ends tomorrow. I think you'll now just get the 2 included in the box.

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Two problems.

1. The free HD-DVD offer expires tomorrow.

2. Amazon don't have any in stock, and the terms of the offer are it has to be bought from an authorized retailer (and I'd bet good money that doesn't include those who are advertising the player at 119 on amazon at the moment).

Ho hum. Was looking forward to Serenity and Children of Men in HD too.

Jolyon

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Kevin ...

... Now that's just spooky.

Fair point on the BD profiles though. The one thing HD DVD does have going for it is the "fixed" nature of the HD DVD specification.

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Gates Horns

I have a better waste of £200.

My beer fund...

Anyone notice how when Sony added Blu-ray to the PS3, everyone cried "Trojan..", but when Toshiba started selling HD DVD players, as DVD players that also did HD DVD, nobody cried Trojan...

HD DVD format is dead, even people at work with little tech knowledge have read the stories in the mainstream media about HD DVD's impending obsolescence.

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Ian

Bluray fanboys miss the point as usual

You can buy the HD-DVD player + 7 movies for the cost of 7 Bluray movies. That means you get 7 high def. films and an upscaling DVD player capable of playing HD-DVD films if nothing else.

That means that even if HD-DVD loses you've not lost anything, it's a bargain that Bluray just simply doesn't factor into. Bluray could be a god machine like the jesus phone that everyone needs to survive but when HD-DVD is offering 7 top films and a player for the price of 7 Bluray films then there's absolutely nothing to lose even if HD-DVD does keel over.

At the end of the day this is by far (far being around £130 difference compared to Bluray, £200+ if you factor in the free films) the cheapest way to get some stunning 1080p high def. content with no relative risk. You can still buy Bluray when it comes down afterwards as well if you really want to.

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Alert

Had me one of these for Christmas

not bad, greast pic though load times were slow and had some freezing probs even after firmware update.

Sent it back for a full refund as soon as the Warner news broke.

Now in the market for a Ps3. Hey ho,

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Flame

Kevin ...

Check out:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/05/26/hd-dvd-forum-working-on-region-codes-and-china-only-format/

At the 34th DVD Forum Steering Committee they called for "development of a spec and region map, and the enforcement of region codes for HD DVD video discs".

Remember the original region "free" DVD players? And how they were rendered obsolete once region encoding came in? Well lit looks like your friends in the DVD Forum are following the same play with HD DVD.

Just because HD DVD is region free now, doesn't mean it will stay that way ... in fact with reports like this from the committee it suggests it won't.

And equally just because Blu Ray supports region encoding doesn't mean all the studios are using it;

http://bluray.liesinc.net/

Step back Kevin, take a breath, and realise that there is a bigger picture here - if you really believe HD DVD can win the format war *AND* remain region free then you're just dreaming.

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Andy Pellew & Kevo

BD profiles don't matter a great deal. Any BD player will play BD movies, some of the more advanced features on a BD movie produced using profile 2.0 won't be available on a profile 1.0 player, but you know what, the movie, menus and standard feature items will be. The point about the profiles is that they are adding non core functionality that provides for extra capabilities beyond the simple movie plus featurettes. The PiP capability, for example, in profile 1.1. Even if a disc comes along that uses it, a profile 1.0 player will continue to play the movie and other content just fine, int won't, however, be able to handle the PiP part. But it's not like simply having the PiP content on disc makes the disc unplayable in older non-PiP players.

The HD-DVD lobbyists like to make a lot of noise about the newer profiles, but if you look at the things being added in the new profiles, such as increased storage, PiP, 'Net connectivity, etc... None of these things alter the basic mandatory elements of Blu-Ray Disc. Therefore any Blu-Ray movie whether profile 1.0, 1.1, or 2.0 will play quite happily in any Blu-Ray player.

P.S. HD-DVD incorporates both region coding and DRM into it's 'standard' as 'optional' elements. As in they remain at the option of the studios putting out content in the format. Please don't keep on claiming that HD-DVD is somehow piracy friendly because it's region free, it's of almost no consequence for 95% of consumers in any case, and of far more concern to movie studios who still can't manage a simultaneous global movie release, so why would they want consumers in the UK to buy the HD-DVD of a title before it even hit's theaters in the UK?

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Jobs Horns

Hmmm...

Paul - "The argument that a device comes pre-bundled with 7 pre-selected movies is worthless as, to be honest, you'll watch these movies a couple of times - max. Then what ?"

As opposed to buying a PS3 that is an 'upgradeable next gen games console' that you'll play a couple of games on and then never play again??

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For what it does, it can't be beaten on price

I had to make an account just to reply to some of the FUD on here.

Firstly, for the price, given the free HD DVDs that you get with it, it can't be beaten. The HD DVDs are available so long as you order and get a reciept dated before 1st Februry and post the form before the end of February.

Secondly, there are still two studios exclusive to the format. Who happen to have the biggest and third biggest film libraries of all the studios. So there will be no shortage of exclusive content, including Cloverfield, Iron Man, American Ganster just off the top of my head.

As was already mentioned, the HD DVD specification is complete. The only player that has a possible chance of being Blu Ray Profile 2.0 is the PS3. All other stand alone players will not work. So anyone who has already bought a stand alone Blu Ray player has been shafted by the BDA.

It is region free for HD DVD. It's DVDs that are region locked. However, the PS3 is region locked for both DVD and Blu Ray.

And, from all the reviews that I have read, most of the Blu Ray players are poor at upscaling DVDs. They also have to keep their costs down, it would seem, to try and compete with Toshiba.

All of the main stream media is owned by Sony, WB, Fox and Disney. Is it any wonder they're trying to feed you with scare stories to stop you taking advantage of this offer and the exclusive films that HD DVD has?

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Stop

no really, Yes it does

Yes it does:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060526-6927.html

Perhaps capitulating to studio pressure, the DVD Forum has moved to burden the next-generation HD DVD format with region coding similar to that of its predecessor. Called Region Protection Coding, the new specification will function in much the same way as current DVDs do: restricting players from showing content from discs purchased outside of the player's region. The number of regions and the geographies they each will cover are not yet known.

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Why I don't care about HD...

"1080p does make a real difference to the amount of detail visible on screen. Whether you can actually make it out when you’re watching a film will depend on how big your TV is and how far away from the screen you’re sitting"

So I have to sit in just the right spot to be able to see a difference?

Call me again when there's something which makes me go "Wow!"

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Stop

The important thing

Is not which format wins.

It's that one of them hurries up and dies a death. Then we can all go out and buy a player of whatever winning format, safe in the knowledge that we aren't "doing a Betamax".

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Stop

Chris iverson, HD DVD has no region code!

Have you looked at the date of that link, Chris? It was two years ago. And it was only an investigation, and the DVD forum rejected the idea again.

There is NO REGION CODING ON HD DVD.

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Highlander and Andy

OK, region coding on HD-DVD. IT IS NOT IMPLEMENTED. There are no HD-DVD players with region coding, there are no HD-DVD discs with region coding. Why are you arguing the toss about shoulda / coulda / woulda. It just isn't there. You can buy any HD-DVD disc from anywhere in the world, and it will work on any HD-DVD player.

As for the profiles and extras issue. Most Blu-Ray fanboys make a lot of the fact that the format has more storage. Not much point of having that storage for extras nobody can or will use then, is there? I wish the fanboys would make up their mind which contradiction they want to stick with.

Fact is that HD-DVD spec is much more complete. Just look at something like 300 which is far, far superior on HD-DVD, and where the extras do genuinely enhance the experience. Another great example is Heroes, where the extras such as character cameos, find the helix and so on add a lot to viewing. And this is achieved with pretty much identical picture and audio quality.

So yes, some Blu-Ray owners will be happy to accept a worse experience. But doesn't that rather undermine their claimed advantages for the format?

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Flame

Kevin ...

Now don't get cross, but if we're not going to be arguing "shoulda / coulda / woulda" then you'd have to accept HD DVD has lost wouldn't you?

I seem to recall agreeing that the spec is much more complete. I (for one) won't be able to enjoy any internet connected feature that a future Blu Ray disk may include. I'm cut up about it. Really. There could be tears.

Regarding Region Encoding for HD DVD. I'll accept that it's not there at the moment. The question is will you accept that *If* (back to "shoulda / coulda / woulda"!) HD DVD won the format war studios like Fox who *insist* on region encoding would force the DVD Forum to add it (making all existing HD DVD players obsolete - just like the first "Region Free" DVD players)?

Follow my link, the Forum has already shown it's planning on it ...

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Tim
Bronze badge

Re: PS3

PS3 is £300+

EP30 is just over £100 with 7 free films and access to over 300 more that are not going to spontaneously combust just because Blu-Ray "wins"

So if you want to watch some HD movies *now* on your new 1080p telly, it's a no brainer. More so as it's a fine DVD upscaler too.

Who even cares if it's redundant in a couple of years time. Use it as a door stop if you like, though it will still play those 300+ movies plus all your PAL DVDs upscalled. At around £100 it's not a wasted investment.

However I would strongly caution rushing out to buy Blu-Ray at present if you are planning on only backing one format, as frankly Blu-Ray *still* is not finished.

Wait until Blu-Ray is profile 2.0 and you can get standalone profile 2.0 players for £100 to £200 (and I mean *fully* profile 1.1 & 2.0 compliant, not just updated firmware that tolerates profile 1.1/2.0 discs but doesn't play the content).

PS3 is all nice and fine, but it's very expensive as an HD player, and doesn't even support all the HD audio formats properly. In the UK it's also a sub-standard games console with lack of PS2 compatibility. Besides, if you don't want a games console, it's too expensive!

I'm not saying HD DVD is the future, and sure Blu-Ray can go and "win", but HD DVD is *now*, and Blu-Ray is still not complete.

If you want HD now, my advice is to go with a deal like this and snap up all those titles with more complete content than their Blu-Ray equivalents, and/or just go get SkyHD.

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Silver badge
Coat

The HD-DVD spec is complete

In other words, HD-DVD is finished!

Mine's the dream coat in glorious technicolour...

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RE players and content

For those laughing that blu-ray early adopters can't access the extra features - at least they can still watch the film. The touted triple layer HD-DVD spec makes no guarantees that you will be able to play version 1 disks AT ALL, never mind the extra features. You take your chances when you are an early adopter and blu-ray owners win here. As for the PS3 being the only player to be able to be updated, there are now 3 other stand-alone players that I know of with upgradeable firmware.

As for content, Transformers, Heroes etc being HD-DVD exclusives - just how long do you think it will be before they are converted to blu-ray once paramount and universal give up on HD-DVD? Expect to see the blu-ray versions within the next 12 months. Paramount are already teetering on the edge of showing HD-DVD the door. They are putting a brave public face on it but from what I hear, management are seriously unhappy with the extremely low volume of sales and are thinking about the massive amounts of money they are losing by not producing blu-ray disks.

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For the love of god

Why do so many spout such utter BS about something they clearly heard from their mate dave in the pub....

That's what ruins these things.

Buy what you like, it's a free world... if you buy the EP30 with the 7 free discs (Toshiba have extended the invoice period to 14th February btw) then if HD DVD did cease to exist in 6 months time then it's not as if your discs and player would suddenly self destruct now is it.. you'd still be able to play and HD DVD's you already have, and upscale your SD DVDs very nicely.

For the money it's a bargain, it's a better format, Tosh were just a bit lousy with their marketing...

As for Paramount etc teetering on the edge of going BR, err, and this "fact" is from where exactly? Digital Bits? It's utter BS... but again, Dave in the pub was it?

As for upgrade spec, HD51, don't make me laugh, there is currently one player you can buy that is Profile 2.0 compliant, the PS3, otherwise there are a couple of Profile 1.1 players due soon... how is that Ethernet port for updates on your Sony, Sharp, Panasonic BR player?

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Coat

@Kevin -- Take a chill pill

I own neither HD-DVD or Blu-Ray/PS3 playback systems, nor do I intend to as I've always had the opinion that the Format wars are irrelevant and I'll sit it out for a year or two , wait for the Irish ISP's to get their act together ( could be some time ) and go direct to Hi-Def download, as that is where the future lies.

Considering that the only argument I made is 'why bother wasting money on an already dead technology now, when there is a general purpose machine available for a little bit more with a guaranteed product life cycle and continuous available media'. If you have children and I can easily assume by the construction of your rant that you're not old enough yet, the PS3 with BluRay playback makes a great deal of sense as a general entertainment unit.

But buying anything HD-DVD related now, for most people is just throwing good money away.

So, which one of us is the, and I hate this childish term... Fanboi now ?

HD-DVD, BluRay, I don't care, not going to bother, will get my coat.

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Alert

@ Scott

Sorry your preferred format is dying a death Scott. How pissed do you sound. For your information, the story about Paramount comes from the Financial Times, not 'Dave in the pub'. In case you are not aware, the FT deal daily with all the major banking and financial news and as as such have access to all the people who make multi-billion pound decisions on a daily basis. They are one of the most respected newspapers in the world of the super rich and if they are saying HD-DVD is dead and not worth investing in, then you can guarantee that the people with that investment money will go nowhere near Toshibas dead format. No investment = no chance of a revival

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dc409afa-bd75-11dc-b7e6-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

'it's a better format,'

How exactly? Lower transfer rates, smaller capacity, less support from the studios?

'As for upgrade spec, HD51, don't make me laugh, there is currently one player you can buy that is Profile 2.0 compliant, the PS3, otherwise there are a couple of Profile 1.1 players due soon... how is that Ethernet port for updates on your Sony, Sharp, Panasonic BR player?'

You are right, don't make me laugh about HD51 as it was announced by Toshiba that these disks probably won't play on the current HD-DVD boxes, so not sure what point you were trying to make here. If it is that early blu-ray adpoters won't be able to access the extra features, at least they can still watch the film unlike the proposed HD51. As for blu-ray 2.0 compliant, have you seen the Panasonic DMP-BD50? Standalone v1.1 player upgradable to 2.0. Daewoo are also about to launch one as are samsung. Do some research before making yourself look like an idiot

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HD DVD is dead due to the exclusivities??

You guys seem to forget that the exclusivities that were announced recently only apply to America, in Europe, these exclusivities are different, you get american blu-ray exclusives on HD-DVD and vice versa, In Europe, HD-DVD has many exclusive and non-exclusive publishers.

An example, HD-DVD exclusive in America, Bruce almighty, distributed by universal, is a blu-ray exclusive in Europe because it is distributed by Buena Vista.

Now because of this, and HD-DVDs lack or region coding, you are likely to be able to play most of the 'exclusive' blu-ray movies on your HD-DVD if you import.

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Has anyone ever considered...

...that Blu/HD/DVD/CD/Tape could be a dying breed altogether?

Right now I am downloading HD movies (Hd and blu rips) and watch it on my HighDef screen. I know some people don't have a fast internet connection or a PC that is fast enough to pump out the pixels, but for the time being it looks like the cheaper option.

Oh, and when there is a good download service and the right price for downloading Highdef movies, I'll be the first to pay but till then I couldn't be arsed to pay for the technology used for the media instead of the actual movie.

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Coat

This is a futile argument

HDDVD supporters - buy the machine if you like. The fact is, the war is over and Blu-Ray has won. It doesn't matter how many exclusives Universal/Paramount put out over the next 18 months. They will eventually be released on Blu. And it doesn't matter about profiles or region coding. The fact is that there are approx. 9m PS3's (i.e. BluRay players) sold and the studio's have decided to go where they believe the potential consumers are.

The fact is, that if I was going to buy this machine, I'd be doing it in the knowledge that it will quite probably be relegated to playing SD-DVD's within a year.

Personally I think that the difference between SD-DVD and Hi-Def (either format) is so marginal to untrained eye's that most people will accept SD-DVD as good enough. The quality leap is not big enough to justify a purchase.

And only fanboy's/nutters will actually go out and replace their DVD libraries will Hi-Def upgrades. It could be that the next change is to downloadable media rather than physical formats as it will take years to convince consumers to buy into Hi-Def.

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@ several people

To the anonymous coward banging on about TL51. Can you please direct me to the press release announcing it will be used for any movies, and which means that current HD-DVD players will be unable to play them? Whats that, you can't? Oh yeah, its just more blu-ray FUD.

Meanwhile I could happily provide a list of obsolete blu-ray players that will be unable to use their much touted extra capacity on PLANNED future discs.

Andy Pellew. There is no region coding. Name me a single player or disc that has it implemented. The forum has it planned? What sort of plan doesn't contain a date for delivery? Fact : there is NO hd-dvd region coding.

Paul Brain. I own two EP30s and a PS3. I'm reasonably format agnostic, but I will always choose the HD-DVD version if I have the choice, as they are much easier to trade on ebay and other forums. Plus of course I prefer the extras available on HD-DVD with discs such as 300. I don't think that makes me a fanboy, just some exercising a rational judgement.

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Dead Vulture

@kevin re blu-ray fud

http://www.cdrinfo.com/Sections/News/Details.aspx?NewsId=21372

quote

However, the new HD DVD-ROM discs may not be compatible with the first generation HD DVD players, since their triple-layer nature could require the use of spherical aberration compensation techniques for reading, a feature that is not currently supported by the HD DVD hardware

also

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=10863296&&#post10863296

which has a very interesting conversation on the topic as well as the PLANNED region coding with Amir Majidimehr, Corporate Vice President, Consumer Media Technology Group, Microsoft one of the driving forces behind HD-DVD.

So much for the blu-ray FUD. Unlike some, I research before commenting

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You call that research?

From your first link.... "The DVD Forum's representatives said that the issue is still under study."

Please find me a single player or disc that uses TL51 or region coding for HD-DVD movies.

There are none.

All HD DVD players today can play all known and planned movies with all features.

Can the same be said for blu-ray?....

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Coat

Whatever happened to consumer choice

Well I have no googled pages to back me up here, but didn't consumers choose the victors between Betamax and VHS? I'm sure all the film studios simply released in both formats until a clear winner (the inferior VHS format) emerged.

Seems to me the guys with the biggest backhanders won this time, with studio exclusives and such like (they probably preferred the region coding in Blueray too - maybe HDDVD should have gone that route) - or maybe the film studio execs should have accepted that cinema going is a dying social disease, and the human race moves closer to a matrix like reality of not leaving the house unless strictly necessary.

If thousands upon thousands suddenly started buying HDDVD machines because their prices dropped like stones, would the film studios and 'quality' newspapers still call it dead?

Personally, I'm rewatching all my SD DVDs thru' an SD player on a HIDEF TV and loving the qualitive<sp?> difference, and whichever HD players breaks the sub £100 barrier, I (and I'm guessing) millions of other (normal folk) will make the jump to rewatch our SD films upscaled.

Apart from an extremely select few most loved movies, I will not be rebuying my DVD collection in HD format. I hate Microsoft & Sony (the corporation, not the folks who work in them) in equal measure - I realise MS don't own the HDDVD format, but they do back them, but if I had a choice I would always go with a consortium of backers of a format.

Apologies for the long post.

Tony F Paulazzo

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Unhappy

HD DVD V Blu Ray

I'm afraid that after reading all this Hi Tech stuff, I am totally baffled as what to buy.

I agree with the chap before who said it's a case of who die's first - HD DVD or Blue Ray, then I shall decide which to go with.

In the mean time I shall purchase a cheap HD DVD player and wait for the fight to finish!

Cheers

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Bronze badge

Upscale

Are there any players that will upscale to 1600 x 1200 to a DVI?

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