Toshiba A2 HD-DVD Player

Late 2006, Toshiba launched their 2nd generation HD-DVD players, A2 and XA2. The A2 became the replacement for Toshiba's 1st generation A1 HD-DVD player. This 2nd generation is equipped to playback HD-DVDs in 720p or 1080i. Unfortunately to get 1080p upconversion and HD-DVD playback, the consumer was forced to buy the XA2. The A2 had an msrp of $499 at launch, while the XA2 had a msrp of $899. However prices as of 4/07, are now at $399 and $799 respectively. The A2's original price range has been replaced now with the A20 for $499 and handles 1080p output.

The first noticeable difference between the A2 and A1 are color. The A2 sports a sleek black case. The A2 has noticebly faster load times and has a better drive which improves reading of HD-DVDs. The one noticeable downside to the A2 over the A1 is that it loses the 5.1 channel analog outputs. What does this mean? In order to take advantage of Dolby TrueHD and DD+, consumers purchasing the A2, need a receiver that can handle LPCM audio via HDMI. A1 owners could use either HDMI or the analog ouputs. Analog inputs are far more common on receivers rather than HDMI inputs.

The A2 will also play DTS-HD audio (1.5 mbps core only). Users are eagerly anticipating an upgrade in the future that will allow for the full decoding of DTS-HD Master audio tracks. However there isn't any official word of if it will be added or not. The benefit is that if users are only using optical output to their receivers and watching HD-DVDs, the receiver will output the TrueHD and DD+ tracks as 1.5mbps DTS audio. Thats nothing to complain about.

The A2 is continuously upgraded by Toshiba. This can be accomplished via the Ethernet port or by CD. To receive the CD upgrade, the consumer must register their A2 with Toshiba.

The Toshiba A2 HD-DVD player is a vast improvement over the A1. However the consumer should be aware of the limitations regarding audio connections. If they want to listen to the TrueHD and DD+ tracks, they will need to buy a receiver capable of handling LPCM via HDMI. If the consumer isn't ready to purchase said receiver, they can always upgrade to the XA2 as it contains 5.1 channel analog outputs. If you are looking to jump into the HD-DVD format, the A2 is a perfect way to get started.

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