The much anticipated 1080p HD DVD player, the HD-A20, hits the shelves today. Previously, 1080p players were priced at $999 MSRP, a price point much too high for 1080p players to become mainstream. But the HD-A20 will be a breakthrough into the larger consumer market with it’s MSRP of $499.
Toshiba’s HD-A20 HD DVD player is 1080p native, as well as 720p and 1080i. What is the difference? 1080p delivers the highest resolution of any consumer market high definition product. It is even higher than HD broadcasts, which are either 720p or 1080i. When watching high definition movies, you will find a level of clarity beyond that of 720p and 1080i.
The HD-A20 also upconverts Standard Definition (SD) signals, meaning you can play a standard DVD and it will scale the resolution to match your 720p, 1080i, or 1080p HDTV. Keep in mind that unless you have a 1080p source (DVD) and a 1080p monitor (HDTV) you won’t be able to see true 1080p resolution.
On the audio side, the HD-A20 supports the following: SHARC® DSP, CD, CD-R/-RW (CD-DA), Dolby® Digital Plus 5.1ch, Dolby® TrueHD 5.1ch, and DTS® HD (core only). And as far as connections, the unit comes with HDMI, Component, and ethernet port for network interactivity.
The release of the $499 HD DVD player will be a setback for Sony’s competing hi def format “Blu-ray“. Blu-ray discs can only be played on 1080p players, and although their $699 Playstation 3 gaming console also serves as a 1080p player, they will need to release a competitively priced stand-alone product to keep up with HD DVD in the mainstream.