Phantom Of The Opera, 300, and Constantine on HD DVD

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The HD Experience
- Part 6 -
Upconverting vs. HD
December 8, 2007
The HD Experience: Part 1 (HDTV) The HD Experience: Part 2 (HD DVD or Blu-ray?)
The HD Experience: Part 3 (Choosing HD DVD) The HD Experience: Part 4 (HD & TV Size)
The HD Experience: Part 5 (Integrating HD) The HD Experience: Part 6 (Upconverting vs. HD)


Currently, there is a niche market for those who want something more from their regular DVD collection. Upconverting DVD players are becoming more mainstream, but as HD players are becoming less expensive and also offering upconverting options, the choice of purchasing an HD player versus an exclusive upconverting DVD player, is getting laborious at best. A few questions which will be explored is, should BOTH be purchased? Is upconverting just as good as HD? We'll discuss these questions below.

Should I Buy An Upconverting DVD Player, HD player, or BOTH?

Oppo has a well-respected line of upconverting DVD players with a proven track record of being one of the best upconverting DVD players in the industry. However, Toshiba's HD-XA2 HD DVD player is also regarded as the best upconverting DVD player and has been compared to Oppo's products. Both seem to be about the same in their high-quality upconversion. Oppo's players typically cost around $150-$220, while the HD-XA2 is Toshiba's flagship HD DVD player, and is still hovering at around $500 (although during this holiday season, you might be able to get it in the low $450 range). Of course the question, is whether buying a single all-in-one unit like the Toshiba HD-XA2 is the way to go, or purchasing an Oppo and a lower-priced $200-$300 (depending on the sale you happen to come across) Toshiba HD DVD player, like an HD-A3 model.

"Should you buy both types of players? Well, this might be a convenience for you if you have multiple HDMI inputs on your television..."
The decision of whether or not to have more hardware, will vary from consumer to consumer. In my particular case, I purchased a Toshiba HD-XA2 because not only did it play HD DVDs, but it was also regarded as one of the best (if not, the best) upconverting players available. I liked having everything in one unit.

Should you buy both types of players? Well, this might be a convenience for you if you have multiple HDMI inputs on your television. It may also extend the life of your HD player. Of course, you'll need more space for an extra player, and another remote lying around probably won't help either, but if you regularly play your SD DVDs in the exclusive upconverting player, such as an Oppo 980HD, the typical wear and tear of only using one player for both your SD DVD and HD needs, will be more balanced and evenly distributed. So, if you're still looking for an HDTV, be sure to think ahead and check the specs of your HDTV and be aware of how many HDMI inputs it has.

Is Upconversion Just As Good As HD?

Upconverting an SD DVD (Standard DVD) movie does have it's benefits. There's no question about this. However, the answer will vary depending on the content you're upconverting, and the HD content you're viewing. The problem we face with watching movies, is the quality of content is going to vary from movie to movie. This means your upconverting DVD player, whatever brand it may be, is not going to consistently give you "better" quality from a standard DVD. Because if the quality of the DVD is inferior to begin with, all the upconverting DVD player is doing is upconverting inferior quality. And if you're watching an HD movie which also has an inferior transfer, you will notice upconverting the SD DVD version is about as good. So, my advice, is be prepared for these types of situations.

"Television size dramatically influences and has a direct correlation, with your viewing experience of HD content and upconverting SD DVD content..."
Upconverting SD DVDs is sometimes categorically considered to be just as good as HD, and this couldn't be further from the truth. I read a post from an HDTV owner on one of the more popular home theater forums available online, and this particular HDTV owner was adamant in convincing others that HD material was only slightly better, and he was more pleased with his SD DVD collection. Examples were given of some movies, and I was confused by his statements until he finally provided information in another post, about his television. It was a 32" LCD HDTV.

Now it all made sense!

Television size dramatically influences and has a direct correlation, with your viewing experience of HD content and upconverting SD DVD content. For those who have a 32" or smaller HDTV, I don't recommend purchasing HD movies. You will notice a difference in sharpness and color, but it will certainly not be as big of a difference if you were watching the HD movie on a 50" television or larger.

When you think about it, television size is the gateway to getting the most out of your HD Experience. Buy a small television, and you won't see the difference as much, but at the same time, buying an HD projector which throws a 100" screen size in your wall, isn't a good idea either. The current sweet spot for HD viewing is between 46" (I recommend 50" though) and 65" televisions. Now, I will say right here and now, this statement is from my own observation. But when you think about high definition, the viewing size the HD content is viewed on, just makes common sense. The connection between size and HD content is not discussed or talked about by television manufacturers. In fact, if you check online, you will find 19" LCD HD televisions. It is unfortunate many consumers will probably buy these products, and having the joy they just purchased their HD player and HD movies, only to discover their HD Experience is not as exciting as everyone was talking about.

The HD industry told them they would have a brand new experience watching HD movies, and these movies were so much clearer and vibrant, but never told them their television size was key to their HD Experience.

When determining if your upconverting DVD player is so much better than your HD movie version, be sure you have a television size which can accurately display the HD content. Because when you eventually do purchase an HDTV around 50", you're going to discover your 32" HDTV was not exploiting the benefits of high-def.


Home Reviews Forums News 2013 2012 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
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Articles Archived Websites (Pre-DigitalDingus): D100 Lounge E-10 Club | Contact