The A20 really feels like a consumer electronic device; very different than the A1. The remote is an improvement over the A1 as well, but we still wish it was back-lit like the XA1/XA2's. We're not sure why they even bothered to include composite cables, what is the point of composite cable on a HD movie player anyway? Lucky for us we had all the cables we needed to get things connected.
Now that we have our movie loaded and we start to watch, we get to enjoy the interactive menus we have come to love about HD DVD. Each title's user interface can vary, but the one thing that seems to be consistently better about HD DVD movies than Blu-ray movies is the scrub bar. On Children of Men the scrub bar shows you a very nice graphical representation of where you are in the movie, as well as the current chapter number, time and the total length of the movie. Even the the worst cable DVRs have a scrub bar and maybe Blu-ray will add it in October. Both players have an info button and while the A20 info screen isn't much better looking, it does include additional information such as video and audio codec, sub audio, output resolution and audio output. While the BD-P1000 opens a blue box that looks like circa 1997 and only displays basic information like chapter number and run time. Also a big improvement over the BD-P1000, is the screen saver -- you know, the phone rings you pause the movie -- on the Universal discs, there is a very nice Universal screen saver that turns on compared to the BD-P1000 which just turns off eventually. If you leave either long enough they do shut off, but the HD DVD doesn't take you back to where you were when you turn it back on. Blu-ray's real interactivity layer isn't out till October, but we can certainly appreciate the features on the A20 including PiP and other U-Control features. HD DVD has a big head start in this area, but we're not sure how many people will really consider these features a huge advantage. There were a few times when the A20 wasn't as responsive as we would have liked, but we have seen worse on HD gear. The menu buttons caused us a bit of confusion, it seems to us that the top menu button should bring up the overlay menu and the regular menu button should take you back to a menu like a DVD, either way it is something that is easy to get used to.
If HDMI 1.3 and 1080p60 are on your list of what you want in a HD DVD player, then the A20 fits the bill. It is a solid player that is a nice improvement over the first generation hardware, but we do miss the discrete analog outputs and the coax digital output. Toshiba continues to improve its players and keep the pressure on the Blu-ray camp to improve theirs. While the A20 doesn't seem like enough of an improvement over the A1 to entice owners to upgrade, it is most certainly a solid offering and comparable to any next-gen player from any manufacturer.
- Key specs
- Reviews • 1
- Type DVD, HD DVD
- Upscaling 1080p, 1080i, 720p
- Video outputs Component (1 outputs), HDMI (1 outputs), RCA / composite (1 outputs), S-Video (1 outputs)
- Audio outputs via HDMI, RCA stereo, TOSLINK (optical)
- Dimensions 2.58 x 16.9 x 13.58 in