Next-Gen HD DVD From Toshiba For 2006
Toshiba fired another salvo in the ongoing next-gen HD disc format war by announcing that it will have its second-generation HD DVD players to market by the end of 2006. The $499 HD-A2 will street in October, with the step-up $999 HD-XA2 following in December.
The HD-XA2 is by far the more interesting and exciting beast of the two new players. While its predecessor was “limited” to 1080i output, the new player will feature 1080p/60 output (from native HD DVD discs and also upconverted from DVD) and will be one of the first components sold to consumers that will feature an HDMI version 1.3 output. The video DACs are spec’d for major oversampling, operating at a whopping 297Mhz/12-bits.
Although HDMI 1.3 offers improved video specs, what’s of the most immediate interest to us is that it will transmit the new audio codecs from Dolby and DTS in their native digital form when connected to a compatible AVR or pre/pro.
Both new players will decode both Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby’s lossless TrueHD (all 5.1-channels worth!) for output through the player’s multichannel analog output. The players will also transcode DD+ and TrueHD to hi-res PCM for output via HDMI. While DTS-HD and DTS-HD Master Audio will be supported over HDMI 1.3 it does not appear the format will supported at full resolution in either player over the analog outs.
Both players are housed in newer, far slimmer cabinets and, ahem, are claimed to offer much improved response times and superior remotes. The HD-A2 doesn’t offer 1080p output and will not feature HDMI version 1.3. The A2 will support multichannel Dolby TrueHD, and does feature HDMI version 1.2a (whatever that is). Other than that it appears, more or less, to be an HD-A1 in a slicker box with the latest firmware upgrades pre-installed.