Top positive review
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Best HD DVD player around at this time
on March 4, 2008
Well my Onkyo DV-HD805 arrived today and I have spent a good chunk of the afternoon putting it through its paces and comparing its performance to that of its Toshiba counterpart - the XA2/XE1.
I used the following HD DVD discs to test both players against each other:
"Fantastic Four" (arrived today from Amazon-de so perfect timing).
"Terminator 2 Judgement Day"
Also used SD DVD discs namely:
"Star Wars Revenge Of The Sith"
"Once Upon A Time In The West"
Here comes THE surprise, the Onkyo beats the XA2/XE1 on both HD picture and upconversion quality. All 3 HD DVD discs looked slightly clearer and sharper on the Onkyo as opposed to the XE1. Terminator 2 in particular had the most pronounced difference.
On SD DVD, the difference was even starker. The XE1 until this point held the place for best upconverter on the market. No more, the Onkyo has taken that in my opinion. Star Wars and Once Upon A Time were simply superb in places and at times approached Hi Def quality, particularly on sharp focus scenes. The opening battle in Star Wars and the Coruscant City scenes are simply stunning on the Onkyo. Ditto close up scenes in Once Upon A Time...
On both players sound is on a par basically. The Onkyo has Firmware 2.8 and my XE1 has Firmware 2.7. Both bitstream Hi Def Audio including DTS-HD Master and Dolby TRUE-HD beautifully via my Onkyo HDMI amp. Curiously when playing the Onkyo, the Audio is highlighted in small red lettering on the display of the Onkyo Amp as opposed to the larger letter displayed in white when playing either the XE1 or the EP35.
The XE1 is the heavier of the two machines and has that beautiful brushed aluminium casing. However, the Onkyo is the same size and width of the XE1/XA2 but is the more pleasing on the eye. Its casing is made of more conventional steel but it has a beautiful 'piano black' glossy front.
The XE1/XA2 remote is by far the superior to the more conventional remote that comes with the Onkyo. That Toshiba remote made of aluminium and with that impressive backlit function simply blows the Onkyo remote out of the water.
However, here comes another big surprise of the test, both the Toshiba and Onkyo remotes will activate both players! I found this out accidentally and it meant that I had to turn one player off at the mains while testing the other. However, that nuisance was eclipsed by the fact that you can use the superb Toshiba remote on the Onkyo and access functions that are not available on the Onkyo's remote such as the three personal picture settings. I have already programmed my choice of picture settings into the Onkyo DV-HD805 as a result and am using the superb Toshiba remote with the Onkyo, instead of that provided with the player.
From start up to Load Disc the XE1 took 45 seconds.
The Onkyo took 37 seconds.
From Load Disc to playback both players took 35 seconds.
The disc that I timed was Fantastic Four HD DVD.
Is the Onkyo a rebadged XA2/XE1?
In my opinion there is no doubt at all that it is. The back with the exactly the same configuration of gold plated output jacks is the giveaway. Length and width wise the players are identical.
However, the proof of the pudding is that the remote for each will work on the other and activate features that are unique to the other player like the 3 Personal Picture Settings.
Additionally, lucky users in the US get an extra feature on the Onkyo HD805 not found in European players:
- An Enhanced Black Level 0 IRE or 7.5 IRE.
Basically the Onkyo has beaten the XA2/XE1 into second place for the accolade of Best HD player. No HD DVD or BD player can match it in my opinion. It is a shame that at the end of HD DVD, we get a magnificent HD DVD player like this appear from another CE manufacturer and one can only speculate what Onkyo's apparently almost completed second generation player would have been like.
Sure the Onkyo DV-HD805 is based on an XE1/XA2. Of that there is no doubt whatsoever. However, Onkyo have furthered the already outstanding strengths of that impressive player.
The most noticeable improvement in my opinion is the picture. A newer version of the HQV Reon-VX chip has probably been used or they have tweaked the existing chip in some way.
Whatever, in my humble opinion the Onkyo has the better picture than the XA2, particularly on upconversion.
Start times are slightly quicker too.
For those of you wanting a superb HD DVD player to sustain your disc collection going forward, then I urge you to beg, borrow, or steal to get one of these players. Pair one of these up with an XA2/XE1 and you will quite literally be able to share the strengths of the two best HD DVD players of all.
Frankly though, the Onkyo DV-HD805 quite simply in my opinion is the best HD player for use in Home Cinema at this time.
Get one and see for yourselves.