HD DVD comes to the UK with Toshiba's HD-E1

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Toshiba have released their HD-E1 HD DVD player in the UK today, so we can finally find out what the high-definition fuss is all about, for about half the price of a Blu-ray player.

It looks as if we’ve managed to skip the first generation players from Toshiba, as this sleek player appears to be a European version of the HD-A2 recently released in the US. That should be good news, as the first-gen players received mixed reviews and were a bit clunky to say the least. Hopefully this offering is a bit more consumer friendly (though ultimately it’s still a PC in a box)

At a suggested retail price of around £450 (and available for significantly less from online stores such as Amazon), and able to play regular DVDs and CDs, it’s not a bad investment as a decent DVD player doesn’t cost much less (yes I know you can get DVD players for twenty quid…)

Sound-wise, the player supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, DTS-HD, and Nicam stereo. It has one HDMI output (I’m not sure if it’s HDMI 1.2 or 1.3 – even the user’s manual is vague)

If you’ve already got a high-def telly, and you’re ready to dive into HD, then this isn’t a bad way of doing it, unless you’re a gamer in which case the Microsoft HD DVD add-on for Xbox, or the eventual arrival of the PS3, might be worth considering. There’ll be around 60 HD DVD titles available by the end of the year, with more promised for 2007.

A more feature-laden HD DVD player from Toshiba – the HD-XE1 – will be available from late January 2007 for around £649.

It may be too soon for regular consumers to jump into HD DVD, as there’s not much competition around yet. Naturally we’ll keep a close eye on the world of high-definition in the UK in 2007, as will our sister site HDTVUK

Related stories: Evesham DVD1000 – upscale your DVDs to high-definition | Sharp unveils the XV-Z3000 high-definition projector | BBC announces more high-definition programmes | Sharp DV-SV97H DVD player with HDMI upscaling

Andy Merrett