Although DVD as we know it today will be around for some time to come, the advent of high definition playback for consumers is now available in the U.S., with recording capability also becoming available. Check out the latest offerings from these two high definition formats: Blu-ray and HD-DVD.
NOTE: As new Blu-ray and HD-DVD players (or recorders) enter the market, they will be considered for addition to this list.
1) Toshiba HD-XA1 Flagship HD-DVD Player
The Toshiba HD-XA1 provides consumers with access to HD video content on a DVD-type disc. HD-DVDs and DVDs (which are upscaled) look excellent via the XA-1’s HDMI connection. However, despite the excellent improvement in video quality, it takes about a minute to boot up and load a disc. Also, the resolution and video output settings cannot be changed while a disc in play. The HD-XA1 is well-constructed and offers great video and audio quality, if you don’t mind some of its operational quirks.
2) Samsung BD-P1000 Blu Ray Disc Player with Digital Camera Card Reader
The BD-P1000 is the first Blu-ray player from Samsung, and the first Blu-ray player to reach the U.S. market. Utilizing the Blu-ray format allows for true high-definition (720p, 1080i. 1080p) playback of new Blu-ray discs. In addition, the Samsung BD-P1000 can play back standard DVDs in an upscaled setting. The BD-P1000 also has a digital camera card reader for the viewing of digital photos on an HDTV. One drawback, it’s $1,000 price tag. To find out more, check out my Product Preview.
3) Toshiba HD-A1 Entry-Level HD-DVD Player
The HD-A1 is the entry-level HD-DVD player from Toshiba. In addition, the HD-A1 is backwards compatible with standard DVDs, as well as most recordable DVD formats, and most audio CD formats, including CD-R/-RWs, MP3, and WMA encoded CDs. The HD-A1 is also the first component to incorporate three new digital audio formats; Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, and DTS-HD, which can greatly expand the audio performance of the home theater experience. Overall a good unit, but with a $499 price tag.
4) RCA HDV5000 HD-DVD Player
Similar to the Toshiba HD-A1, the RCA HDV5000 can play HD-DVD format discs in true 720p or 1080i high definition resolution, primarily via its HDMI output. The HDV5000 also offers backwards compatibility with standard DVDs in both standard and upscaled modes. On the audio side, the HDV5000 supports both Dolby Digital and DTS formats.
5) Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray Disc Player
The DMP-BD10 is the first Blu-ray format player from Panasonic to reach the U.S. market. The Panasonic DMP-BD10 plays Blu-ray discs at full 720p, 1080i, or 1080p resolution via its HDMI output. The DMP-BD10 is also playback compatible with standard DVDs and most recordable DVD formats, as well as being able to playback standard music CDs and CD-Rs/RWs. Standard DVDs are upscaled via the HDMI output. The DNMP-BD10 delivers great video and audio quality. One disappointment: A $1,299 price tag.
6) Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray Disc Player
The BDP-HS1 is the new Blu-ray format player from Sony. The Sony BDP-S1 plays Blu-ray discs at full 720p, 1080i, or 1080p resolution via its HDMI output. The BDP-S1 is also playback compatible with standard DVDs and most recordable DVD formats, but, unlike other Blu-ray/HD-DVD players, does not have provisions for standard CD playback. In addition, standard DVDs are upscaled to 720p, 1080i, and 1080p via the HDMI output.