Pros: Claims to plays all DVD Region content.
Cons: Will not play some DVD Region content (Catch-22)Spotty USB Performance
TOSHIBA - 1080p Up-Scaling Region Free DVD Player
A Home Entertainment entry that promises freedom of viewing choices in many forms.
I have a correspondent who lives in Northeastern England and sends me recordings from British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that we Yanks do not get to see. When he thinks I might like a choice Over The Air program, he records it on a CD-R and sends it to me via Royal Mail. When he first did this favor, I fell upon it with happy cries and wanted to view the content right away.
I tried his DVD Disc in 6 of our 7 players* but none would recognize nor accept that disc. It took a while but we traced the problem to the color signal system used in Region 2 that includes Great Britain: Phased Alternating Line (PAL). What I needed was a player that could play both PAL and the American standard National Television System Committee (NTSC).
- - - Without burying the reader in minutiae;
PAL refers to a TV system displaying 625 line-50 frames (Hz), (576i)
NTSC refers to a TV system displaying 525 line-60 frames(Hz), (480i)
Use a player designed to 'play' both systems. My first choice was a player from Panasonic that played PAL but lacked the HDMI port which I wanted for standard High Definition (HD) viewing in the Lounge/Living Room at an ideal 1080p. A second player with the HDMI port failed to work and I returned it. That left me in the market for another try; which was the Toshiba XDE600KA, a Region Free DVD Player. I ordered one from Amazon.Com and waited on the porch for three days.
IN THE BOX (Warning: The factory box was relabeled several times, suggesting last second revisions or other evil downstream mischief. First inclined to refuse it, I didn't. But I might.)
The Player, A Remote Control, Power Cable, Two AAA Alkaline Batteries, One 6' HDMI Cable, and a 6' 3 Conductor A/V Composite Cable. (That's the one with RCA Plugs at both ends.)
The player is designed to play DVD Video, SVCD, DVD-RW & +W, CD Audio, and CD-R/W discsFile Formats include JPEG, MP3, WMA and DivX
The XDE600KA includes ports for HDMI, Digital Audio out, Optical Sound out, and Component Video. (The Manual shows a 75 Ohm COAXIAL cable connection - in fact, there is none.)
Here is a ready to use - plug and play component; a device designed for all of us by a company that seems to want anyone for a customer and makes it possible by a realistic assessment of customer needs and capabilities - and patience.
The XDE600KA illustrates this design philosophy; "Give 'em what they want but give 'em what you know the Customer needs."
Here, also, is concern for a customer who, like me, is on the "Trailing Edge" of technology; driven by need not curiosity and too timid to admit it. FEAR NOT! Some genius at Toshiba suggested tossing an A/V cable (the one with those funny RCA Yellow, Red, and White Phono plugs) into the carton.
Imagine opening the carton and finding a device with HD written all over it and finding the HDMI cable with which one can implement HD.
And how about a device meant for use world-wide that includes 120vac and 240vac Power Systems and a voltage adapter on the power cable?
The only thing missing is the country of origin; which appears to be a dark and bloody secret; the only hint is a Japanese address on the back of the machine.
THE REMOTE CONTROL
47 buttons of perplexing user interfaces, powered by the included 2 AAA Alkaline Batteries. Most features are accessed only through remote menus. No backlighting at all. I like the red one and the one with the OPEN/CLOSE label. The included OWNER'S MANUAL is essential, almost incomprehensible, and tediously devoted to Customization of already complex on-screen menus. (Pause, while I reach for an aspirin...)
There are features that provide the user the ability to play the Television Systems in use in all geographic areas of the world. This is a Region 3 Player. The bi-lingual user manual, has codes for more than a hundred different languages.
This Player incorporates several licensed audio or video enhancement programs: Dolby Digital sound, DTS Digital Out, "Designed for Windows Media", and DivX* (associated with MPEG-4 files) .
Toshiba has applied its own "Extended Detail Enhancement" - selectable picture improvements: Detail Enhancement (DE), Intelligent Colour, and Contrast Enhancement touches. Thus, the DE in the Model Name XDE. All of this adds gilding to the rose of already sharp upconverted 1080p image rendering. (Secretly, I always thought "X" meant experimental.)
This player includes ample provisions for preservation of Digital Rights. (Copy "Protection".)
Another reference to the Remote buttons that allow "universal" control of other devices, especially Toshiba Products. Thus, the familiar set of buttons for TV, CABLE/SAT, DVD, and VCR, found on the TELEVISION REMOTE (if your TV is a Toshiba Model - which by incredible coincidence our TV is.) Ours is aged, so some links worked, others did not.*
Universal Service Bus (USB) Port
A versatile replacement for many types of connectors, USB has been around long enough that much of my backup data is stored on devices equipped with those connectors. My content is principally Photo Images in JPEG format. Those are usually saved on Optical Discs that are "Played" through the Optical Drive on a Personal Computer where editing and viewing are done on a modestly sized display.
Some of my CD-R archives would not play. Archives lately preserved on Flash Media were especially unpredictable. The SDE600 XDE does not play BluRay nor will it play backup files.
Moving the viewing out to the living room TV, through the TOSHIBA XDE600, revealed images that betrayed my history of using cheap cameras or shooting at low resolution settings. It does not appear that "Upconverting" is happening in this application, that is, trying to display images stored on USB Flash Drives. Similar images "played" in the Optical Drive looked much better. (Upconverting at work)
I wasted a lot of time trying to display images in my 'library' archives thru that USB Port. USB appears to come in many flavors, one effort resulted in an Error Message: "Unsupported USB Version". This port seems better suited for the intended use with Smart Phones and similar devices. This was an exhausting and exasperating effort; my trusty standby PC DVD Drive had no trouble with files like this. I would not depend upon this particular USB Port for any use.
Purchased for its ability to render foreign DVDs viewable. It did that very well and made me happy. The versatility of The TOSHIBA XDE600KR was dazzling but can be taken for granted. Fortunately for this orphan, the Plug 'n Play procedure worked.
I did not care for the "All-In-One design philosophy" for this limited and somewhat exotic need. The technology is moving too fast to consider this as a permanent solution.
It is with great hesitation, apprehension, reservation, and plain old fear that I recommend this interesting toy.
* Three PC internal drives, Two Legacy DVD/VHS Combo players, One dedicated DVD Player, One BluRay Player.
* A program that can compress long Video and Audio segments; invented to defeat MS Windows Media Player efforts to exclude legacy DVD playing. See the headache-inducing definitions for more.
* Our new DISH Network receiver remote handles this feature with Elan!