As a follow up to my previous article about the HD-A20, I felt compelled to give a report after a couple months of use.
The HD-A20 was the lowest priced 1080p player at $499, until the Sony BDP-S300 came along last month. Still, since the HD-A20 has been on the market longer, you can still get one for a lot less than the Sony. But lets take a more critical look at the HD DVD player. Is is worth $399?
The HD-A20 will not win any design awards. But it does what it has to do. The player will accept the following formats: HD DVD (15gb single layer), HD DVD (30gb dual layer), DVD-RW and DVD-R, CD-RW and CD-R. You’ll be happy to know that disc load time has been improved from the 1st gen models.
Here are some pitfalls that Toshiba will need to overcome. When trying to load a disc, upon startup or changing a disc, pressing the open button never really opens the tray. You can turn the power on with the open tray button on but it still won’t open until it goes through the whole disc load process.
Audio sometimes cuts out. This happens randomly and the disc has to be stopped in order to restart. This is really inconvenient because by stopping the disc it goes back to the start menu again. You then have to pick up where you left off by using the chapter menu. This has happened about 4 times within 2 months of use.
For some reason, the player froze the other night. The power light was on, and the LCD display said “HD DVD”. Neither the front plate buttons nor the remote would work to un-freeze the deck. I had to pull the power cord to get it to start up again. The power on the deck may have been left on for a day or two but this shouldn’t be an excuse.
This is a $500 player folks. Things that cost $500 should work pretty darn well. Overall the HD-A20 has been great. I cannot complain about the quality, and the upscaling is very impressive. For a second generation player it is fairly stable. However if anything else goes wrong, especially a hard drive freeze, I may start thinking about sending it back.