Reader Mail: We Answer Your High-Def DVD Questions

Posted Thu Apr 20, 2006 at 03:13 PM PDT by
Old-Fashioned Letter Mailbox Today High Def Digest kicks off a new recurring feature on the site, our Reader Mailbag! We'll be answering your questions on the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats, industry trends and our news and review coverage.

Got questions of your own? Send them our way, and we'll try to answer them on the site in the coming days and weeks.

Of Inputs and Outputs

"In your review of 'The Last Samurai,' you state that, "...component connectors are not capable of delivering full 1080p, however, so if you eventually want to upgrade your home theater to the full 1080p experience, you will still have to buy a new set down the road."

I believe that the above is incorrect. Please note the following from Widescreen Review: 'Analog component video can support 1080p out put and certain analog 9-inch CRT projectors can resolve better than 1920 x 1080p. The decision to output full 1080p resolution through the component video output is up to the player manufacturers. No one has announced at this time better than 1080i output through component video.'" -- Phil S.

Dear Phil: Thanks much for the correction, and congrats on being our first-ever question at Reader Mail!

We have revised the text of the review to be more clear. It should have stated that Toshiba's first-gen HD-DVD decks, the HD-A1 and HD-XA1, only support resolutions up to 1080i via either their component or HDMI outputs, not full 1080p. However, Widescreen Review is correct -- there are some sets currently on the market that can accept a 1080p signal via component and/or HDMI inputs. Unfortunately, the Toshiba's first-gen HD-DVD models do not yet support high-def's maximum resolution.

Toshiba has indicated that they plan to include 1080p output capability on their upcoming second-generation HD-DVD players, most likely via HDMI. Toshiba expects to unveil these new decks later this fall.

HD-DVD Disc-to-PC Conversion

"Hey, I think your site is awesome, and the HD-DVD coverage is great!! I have one quick question about HD-DVD: While I know that standard DVD players can't play HD-DVD, I was wondering if people could copy the HD-DVD content to their PC hard drive with the PC's DVD player?" -- Michael M.

Dear Michael: Thank you for the very kind words on the site, and we are glad you are enjoying our coverage of HD-DVD so far -- and there's plenty more to come in the weeks and months ahead.

We also like the way your mind thinks. Though, alas, it is not possible to use a standard DVD drive in a PC to play and/or copy the contents of an HD-DVD disc. They are two completely different formats -- DVD drives utilize red laser technology, while both the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray next-gen formats utilize blue laser technology, making compatibility inherently impossible.

However, many PC makers are planning to introduce PCs with internal HD-DVD drives, as well as stand-alone HD-DVD drives as well. Microsoft has also announced it is aggressively supporting the HD-DVD format and peripherals with its upcoming Windows Vista operating system, set to launch this fall.


"It has been a great pleasure to keep track of the news, the hardware and software and consumer goodies like Blu-Ray PSX3 game consoles and XBox 360 consoles, and of course, HD content rich media such as movies. Thank you! Your gear page looks impressive and of high quality and a perfect test setup which will surely grow over time. What I am hoping to find is pictures -- visuals of the hardware, the setup as you have it, in the form of a small gallery would be so very great. Hopefully this will be an option in the future, and keep those great reviews coming." -- Floris F.

Dear Floris: Your very kind comments are greatly appreciated. We're glad you like our reviews, and we'll definitely keep them coming!

We definitely are planning to introduce more visuals, of both our equipment setup as well as discs themselves. We are currently investigating the best way to present disc screenshots that can fully convey the image quality of both the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats, and hope to begin implementing images with our next batch of disc reviews. Stay tuned!
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