Toshiba SD-5700 Progressive-Scan DVD-Audio/Video Player Page 2
While the SD-5700 is a solid audio performer, it was this player's video performance that seemed to hold the most promise. Toshiba's first progressive-scan players were quite good, albeit much more expensive than their current models. When I fired up the SD-5700 on a 36-inch Sony XBR digital Wega TV (my 96-inch video system was out of service due to the death of my projector), I was immediately impressed by how filmlike the images looked in the TV's scan-compressed 16:9 mode. Of course, like Toshiba's other progressive-scan units, this player has 3:2 pulldown, which dramatically cuts down on motion artifacts. The SD-5700 had no trouble with the opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection, in which the haystacks appear to shimmer when viewed via some progressive DVD players. The SD-5700 managed to keep good detail without the shimmer. Generally speaking, this player's performance in 16:9 mode is right in line with what I've seen from previous Toshiba progressive-scan players: very impressive and perhaps the best reason so far to run out and buy an HDTV.
Next, I took the Sony TV out of the squeezed scan mode, restored a normal 4:3 picture, and took advantage of the SD-5700's new downconversion algorithm, which improves an anamorphic DVD's letterboxed image on a 4:3 display. In the opening sequence of Star Trek: Insurrection, the first thing I noticed was a slightly softer picture, although there wasn't much shimmer in the haystacks. For comparison, I played the sequence on an older Toshiba player and observed a seemingly sharper picture but a return of the shimmering (which is caused because the DVD player is forced to discard lines of video to fit the letterboxed image in less than two-thirds of the TV's scan lines).
Finally, Toshiba has come up with a video solution for everyone, regardless of the shape of their TV. While some of us reviewers were enthusiastic about Toshiba DVD players used with a 16:9 screen, we were often less excited by their performance on a 4:3 screen. With this new mode, the SD-5700 can produce a super-sharp picture in 16:9 and a nice, smooth, shimmer-free one in 4:3. It seems that Toshiba has dealt a pair of aces.
Since I'm a product reviewer, a lot of people ask me what products I like. The smart ones ask a more-revealing question: "What products did you buy?" That's a shorter list. One product you can add to it is the SD-5700. I've rarely seen a product combine this level of performance, features, and sheer value. I know that DVD players have gotten sucked into price points that would've embarrassed VCRs just a few years ago. These days, no $399 DVD player can be called cheap; however, if you consider the SD-5700's features and performance, it's like getting a Mercedes at Kia pricing.
• Excellent video performance, no matter what the screen format
• Solid DVD-Audio and HDCD performance
• Excellent value