Controversial?

After getting my new HDTV just after Christmas, I decided that the DVD playback from my Sony DVD/HDD recorder (which I’ve had for five years, so it’s practically prehistoric) wasn’t really up to much on the new screen. The player had no option for any kind of upscaling and was plugged in via SCART so the picture really wasn’t looking very clever.

I decided that an upgrade in the DVD department was in order and it came down to two choices. First – the expensive option – was to go down the Blu-Ray route. A decent “entry level” player currently stands at about the £175 mark. The DVD playback is supposed to be good as it handles SD upscaling pretty well, and then you have the brave new world of HD blu-ray movies to get into. However, BD discs are pretty expensive at the moment – in the region of £15-20 each so things would get pricey fairly quickly, even if I only got 2 or 3 discs to start with.

The thing that I had to consider was not only the cost. The TV I bought was not a particularly expensive one – in fact, really quite a bargain choice. It’s not 1080p, and only 32″ and I sit about 3.5 metres away from it. With that screen size at that distance on a 720p set I wasn’t entirely convinced blu-ray was the way to go.

Option two therefore, was to go for the budget option – a DVD player with HDMI and upscaling. You can get these for anything between £50 and £100 and the results are supposed to be pretty good. I had heard good things about Toshiba’s latest foray into DVD upscaling, called XDE, but their first XDE player – the XD-E500 – was supposed to be £120 so I discounted that as too expensive (almost into blu-ray terroitory really).

However, I’m a regular visitor over at AVForums.com and I spotted a post about the XDE player that said Comet were selling it in the January sales at half price. That’s more like it, I thought, and promptly headed out to get one.

I have t0 say I’m extremely impressed. The picture quality, upscaled to 1080i via HDMI with the XDE trickery switched on, is fantastic – really crisp and sharp. Much, much better than what I had been getting on a five-year old player via SCART that’s for certain!

My DVD collection is fairly sizeable (250 discs) and I’m pleased I can wring out some more enjoyment from it. I’m going back through favourite movies just to watch them in new and improved XDE-Vision! Another bonus is that the player came with a free 12 month subscription to LoveFilm so that’s about £60 worth of rentals too.

The real icing on the cake though is the price of DVDs at the moment. I picked up a 2-disc special edition DVD of Mission Impossible at Sainsburys the other morning for £3. The equivalent blu-ray is £20. Case closed.

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