Is Toshiba’s latest firmware update for its second-gen HD DVD players ready for prime time? We asked Joshua Zyber to take it for a test drive on his HD-XA2 player.
Released early last week, the documentation for firmware version 2.7 promises that it "improves network connectivity supporting the download of web-enabled network content associated with certain HD DVD discs, and also addresses certain disc playback and HDMI/DVI related issues identified by Toshiba" (the standard boilerplate language that accompanies most of their firmware updates) for the HD-XA2, HD-A20, HD-A2, HD-A2W, and HD-D2 player models.
In addition, and likely of most interest to owners, the Firmware V2.7 adds a new function called Direct Digital Output Mode to the XA2 model. This feature (previously available only in the recently-released HD-A35 player) allows the raw digital bitstreams for the Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD advanced audio formats to be transmitted over HDMI 1.3 to a compatible receiver for decoding. While the XA2 will still not decode DTS-HD High Resolution or Master Audio internally as it can for Dolby Digital Plus or TrueHD, this bitstream function provides the first opportunity for owners to listen to these formats in full quality.
In a new update to his XA2 review, High-Def Digest reviewer Josh Zyber installed the firmware on his machine and also discovered that it corrected a couple of lingering issues with the player. He found that the audio sync problems that plagued 1080p24 video output after the last V2.5 firmware have been eliminated, and the video stutter affecting discs like 'World Trade Center' is completely fixed at all resolution outputs.
Unfortunately, playback of glitchy DVD/HD DVD Combo format discs such as '300' (as reported in Josh's Combo Discs – What Went Wrong? column) remains problematic.
For Josh’s complete thoughts on Toshiba’s XA2 HD DVD player and the series of firmware updates issued for the deck thus far, click here to read his ever-evolving review.