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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).
"Bladerunner"
"Terminator 2 Judgement Day"

Also used SD DVD discs namely:
"Star Wars Revenge Of The Sith"
"Once Upon A Time In The West"

Picture:
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...

Sound:
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.

Aesthetics:
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.

Loading times:
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.

Verdict:
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.
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on January 31, 2008
Phenomenal Hi Definition Picture & Audio Quality. It's almost identical to the HD-XA2.
This HD DVD player is extremely easy to setup and has great features. I highly recommend this player to anybody that wants to add TRUE HI DEF to their home.

FULL 1080p/24p with HDMI 1.3 w/Deep Color & CE-Link etc.

This Player BLOWS any Blu-Ray player out of the water HANDS DOWN.
review image review image review image
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on December 19, 2007
Toshiba is going to concentrate on their own normal market, the mid-level consumer. Hence they are discontinuing the XA2, the reference design from which Onkyo has inherited this player. Onkyo will likely use this as a base to design and market their own 'next generation' player in the future. The current MSRP on this is just what Toshiba had on the XA2, so there really is no price discrepency. Ignore the blu-ray fans that want to turn this into some kind of trick.
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on July 22, 2008
I have the following players: A35, A3, A20 and this Onkyo 805. And this is by far the best player. The picture quality is the best of all my players. I bought this player at the shoponkyo site for less than $200. I have only one regret in buying the Onkyo DV-HD805, and that is I didn't buy more players.
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on February 13, 2008
Awesome picture and audio, stunning SD upconversion , ability to bitstream audio over hdmi and analog outs combined with the reon chip make this a top end player and a worthy addition to any HT set up!
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on November 22, 2015
perfect blu ray player
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on July 6, 2008
I received my refurbed 805 recently, bought from onkyoshop which cost me around US$100 since I was member. I chose it initially over the XA2 after reading some comments that the 805 outperformed the XA2. The unit has now died on me. It doesn't switch on period. I should have known something was wrong from the get go. When first received the unit, it didn't switch between 1080i and 1080p and there was a cranking noise everytime I put a DVD in. But now the unit doesnt switch on. I went back to Onkyo and explained the problem to them. They said they look into it but I never heard back from them. Now I am fed up of waiting and bought a refurbed XA2 from ebay instead. All I can say is that the XA2 lives up to the hype (see my review on XA2).

When it did work, the unit is at best comparable to the XA2. I tested the scene in "I am Legend" where Will Smith goes into the warehouse to look for his dog and the XA2 seemed to have better black levels and contrast than the 805. For SD DVD's there is no difference between the Onkyo and the XA2 despite claims that Onkyo somehow tweaked the Reon chip. In fact the XA2 somehow puts out a more film like performance. Witness the scene in Crimson Tide (DVD) where Denzel Washington puts out the fire in the galley. The XA2 did a better job of the smoke than the 805.

Aesthetically the Onkyo loses hands down to the XA2. The 805 feels less sturdier using a lot of steel and plastics vs. the tank build aluminium chassis of the XA2.

Maybe I was unlucky and got a lemon, but I think the XA2 is a superior products in terms of overall PQ and build. If you do buy one of these, make sure you get a new one to avoid disappointment (currently at $899, but I hear will be discounted soon), otherwise its $100 down the toilet. Do yourself a favor and buy a XA2 (even a refurbed one) instead.
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