Why talk about HD DVD products? I know that a good portion of the world thinks that the next-generation optical disc format war is over with Blu-ray Disc being the de facto winner. Not necessarily. Video processing could be a key deciding factor.
This past week saw a lot of activity and product announcements from Barcelona, Spain at the 3GSM show as manufacturers show off their new mobile products from phones to TVs. While I'm sure that there are issues that I could address in Mobile TV, I think that I'll hold off for awhile. So, I've been trying to think of a topic to write about this week for my Blog. In past few weeks, I've written about CableCARD, Microsoft, Windows Media Centers, as well as the new dual-format hi def DVD player from LG (that I expect to receive for review in the next couple of weeks or so). Of course, I could always talk about the new Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD player.
Why talk about HD DVD products? I know that a good portion of the world thinks that the next-generation optical disc format war is over with Blu-ray Disc being the de facto winner. Reportedly, BD movie titles are outselling HD DVD titles 2-to-1. Well, besides the PS3 that I have, I'm still awaiting for a review sample of a Blu-ray player from Sony, Pioneer, or Philips. Forget about Samsung for the time being. Now, I reviewed Toshiba's HD-XA1 HD DVD player in Digital TV DesignLine and ELECTRONIC HOUSE magazine. While I liked the image quality, I did not like that it took about 1-minute and 45-seconds for a disc to start playing. I also found that some discs did not player --- even with a firmware update, which was very frustrating.
Well, clearly Toshiba saw the defects of their XA1 and corrected them for their HD-XA2. Now, there are several differences between 1st generation and 2nd generation models. First, of all, the XA2 is 10800p versus 1080i, which makes the image quality even more superior than before. Secondly, and more importantly, the XA2 loads a disc like a DVD player meaning that it takes about 15 seconds or so for a disc to load into the player. It's like night and day in that it acts like a normal DVD player.
One of the things that separate this next generation optical disc player from others is video processing. I've been saying this for awhile now that one of the key ingredients to exceptional DTV products is the processing. In the case of the XA2, it's the Silicon Optix Reon-VX chipset utilized. The Reon-VX offers true HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) four-field, motion-adaptive, per-pixel, high-definition (HD) deinterlacing, delivering the sharpest and most detailed HD images possible. With 1080i material you'll be able to see things such as strands of hair, guitar strings, and even threads in suits and ties. By looking at each individual pixel, HQV processing ensures that there is no unnecessary loss of resolution, as is the case with region-based or frame-based solutions. With HQV's contentbased HD cadence detection, the Reon-VX delivers true 1080p reconstruction of HD film sources, including Hollywood films and television shows produced on film. The Reon chipset is a highly integrated advanced SoC.
While HD DVD images looked absolutely spectacular (and better than Blu-ray for my money), it was standard definition images from any DVD, which were upconverted to 1080p that separates this player from other 1080p players. Standard definition DVDs were crisp, clear, and free from any noticeable artifacts. They were truly near-HD in quality. Titles ranging from Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest" to Celtic Woman looked simply stunning! And it all comes back to video processing, and Toshiba's wise use of the Reon HQV chipset.
As more stunning examples of video processing chipsets come to light, I'll pass them along. The inclusion of key components such video processing chipsets is what separates products that are just OK, and products that aspire to greatness!