Toshiba HD-A2  (Source: Toshiba)
Yes, I have an HD DVD player

You know it is hard out here for an HD DVD supporter when the majority seem to support Blu-ray. Every news post mentioning Blu-ray or HD DVD turns into an all-out flame war over which format will win or which is superior.

I have a confession to make though, I support HD DVD. However, I am not an HD DVD fan boy and understand Blu-ray sales are picking up and the storage medium can store more. I bought into HD DVD simply because it was the best deal and we all know everyone acts in their own self interest.

It all began with the Xbox 360 HD DVD player add-on. Microsoft reels you in with its budget price [at the time] to give you a taste of high-definition goodness. From there, I began to build up my collection, movie by movie. After a few months, the shortcomings of the HD DVD player add-on became apparent – the audio.

The Xbox 360 lacked the capabilities to output TrueHD audio in its full glory and down sampled audio to Dolby Digital. This was a few months ago and Microsoft has since updated the software to down sample audio to DTS for movies. However, the audio issues became annoying and I abandoned the add-on before the spring dashboard update.

At the time, I had a library of around 10 movies and did not want to ditch them. Microsoft is clever though, reel you in with the entry-level model to have you craving for more. Crave more I did. I wanted to experience the full glory of the eargasmic TrueHD lossless audio tracks, a feat only accomplishable over HDMI or six-channel analog connections. I contemplated tracking down a closeout Toshiba HD-XA1 or HD-A1, but the prices were still a bit high for my tastes.

After a month or so, I managed to snag a deal too good to pass up. Best Buy had an open box Toshiba HD-A2 for $350. At the same time, Circuit City had a “buy an HD DVD player and receive five free movies in-store instantly” deal going on. I had Best Buy match the Circuit City deal and walked out with the HD-A2 and five free movies, worth $125, for $350. To top it off, Toshiba had its five free movies by mail promotion, worth another $125. So technically, I paid $100 for the player, because I would have probably purchased the movies I received free eventually. You cannot top that with Blu-ray.

This purchase occurred back in May and I have since enjoyed plenty of TrueHD endowed titles. The audible difference is still noticeable, despite my mild audio setup. It is just a fuller and more detailed sound. The Nine Inch Nails: Beside You in Time Live concert HD DVD sounds phenomenal in its full lossless glory. However, not all titles feature TrueHD, but the ones that do are well worth it.

The ultimate test for TrueHD audio would have to be the movie 300. That movie was not easy to find in the small city of Bellingham, WA. I had to drive around for three hours to Best Buy, Circuit City, Target and the mall to find the HD DVD copy sold out everywhere. I managed to snag the last copy at Wal-Mart, out of all places; there were plenty of Blu-ray copies everywhere though.

I can see why the 300 set the high-definition movie sales record. The movie transfer is astonishing and representative of how the movie appeared in theaters – with the intention graininess. The 300 audio track sounds amazing as well – the explosions, sword swings, decking people in the head with the shield – all sounded amazing. This is what high-definition is all about.

Now I cannot confess to supporting HD DVD without a reason for not buying Blu-ray. The answer is simple – costs. I can’t justify spending $450 on a Sony BDP-S301 or $600 for a Panasonic DMP-BD10A. I regularly skim the movie catalog on High-Def Digest and the read the Blu-ray forums on AVS Forum and the only title that would somewhat sway me on BD is Casino Royale, but one title isn’t enough.

I have plenty of titles I can enjoy on HD DVD – The Matrix Trilogy, 300, The Departed, A Scanner Darkly and others. Exclusives are not a big deal to me; it is all about my own personal enjoyment. HD DVD delivers that.

Before people start asking why I did not pick up a Playstation 3 because it serves double duty, I’ll answer that question. There is not a single game on PS3 that I want yet. Sure, the Gran TurismoHD Demo is free and looks nice, but a demo with a few cars is not exactly a console seller for me. I am also a snob in regards to I prefer to have a dedicated player for dedicated tasks. I am not much of a gamer nowadays.

It is not to say I will not purchase a BD player in the future. When the price is right and there is a killer movie worth owning, I will pick one up. My receiver still has one HDMI port ready for it, but a new 1080p TV is next up on the to-buy list.

And for the curious, my mild home theater setup, which is nothing special because I live in an apartment, is as follows:

  • Sony KV-30HS420 CRT HDTV (1080i)
  • Toshiba HD-A2
  • Denon AVR-887
  • JBL SCS300.5 Theater Pack (For movies)
  • JBL Sub10
  • Infinity Primus 150 (For Music)
  • Xbox 360 Elite
  • Wii

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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