Toshiba HD-A1

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

I’ve finally come to a crossroads with my HD DVD player. I no longer have any use for it. Don’t get me wrong; I got extensive use of the format, enjoyed it tremendously, and I still love my player. I truly, genuinely do. But it finally dawned on me the other day that the machine has not been turned on for almost two years – coincidently, not long after the format’s demise. So… what to do, what to do?

Well, there’s really only one thing that can be done. It’s time to unplug and remove the machine from my system, which I did over the weekend. Expect to see the player, along with my HD DVD collection, selling in the HDD Marketplace in the coming weeks. As any true HT hobbyist will tell you, I regret nothing. But that doesn’t mean this doesn’t sting, at least a little. Believe me, I’ve been stung a few times in this hobby. I was a strong supporter of the HD DVD format from the beginning and I enjoyed it immensely. It was ready and fully functional right out of the gate, as opposed to its competitor, Blu-ray, which still needed close to a year after launch before it was finalized.

I’m not looking to reignite any debates over which format was superior, or which provided the greater benefit. Objectively, HD DVD was ready from the onset, and that was the reason I chose it over Blu-ray. I still remember the day I purchased my Toshiba HD-A1. It sounds weird, sure, but I’ve been told that I have an uncanny memory (an attribute my wife absolutely hates because when we argue, I can recall almost anything in detail, including all my HT purchases). And so, I remember that cloudy Sunday afternoon in late spring, walking out of Best Buy with this big, heavy box and my first assortment of HD DVD movies (‘The Last Samurai‘, ‘Serenity‘, ‘Training Day‘ and ‘Unforgiven‘) in my hands. I got my three free discs (‘The Chronicles of Riddick‘, ‘Constantine‘ and ‘U-571‘) in the mail a few weeks later. I also changed my settings on Netflix that same day. And like the crazed hobbyist I am, I spent all day calibrating the entire system – the best part of buying any new toy!

When the Blu-ray format seemed to actually offer something worthwhile, I bought a 60GB PlayStation 3 on launch, which was even more expensive than the HD-A1. Specs were still rather questionable, and the audio/video quality of available media at that point ranged from piss-poor to average. However, future selections looked very promising, so I took the jump. Just as with my decision to go HD DVD first, the specs of the PS3 far exceeded any standalone player out there. Oh, and it was future-proofed. That was a plus. Anyhow, the next year, I upgraded to an HD-XA2, the one going up for sale soon. And a few months after that…

Well, we all know what happened then. But again, I have no regrets. The HD-XA2 remains a beautiful, sturdy machine, and I got plenty of good use from it. I’ve watched hundreds of movies on the player, even after the format wars finally came to a close. It has a simple but elegant design and is equipped with one the best video processors available on any optical disc player. Still, I’m having difficulty convincing myself to keep it when that same question keeps coming up: “When was the last time you even turned it on?”

(Funny. Here I am still thinking about it when I should be typing.)

It’s been almost two years since I’ve watched any of my HD DVDs, and I’ve been slowly replacing them with their Blu-ray counterparts for several months now. I hardly even watch DVDs for that matter. What with four separate devices that have internet access, one of which I plan to write about in the near future, most all of my home entertainment viewing consists of Blu-ray or online streaming.

Yeah, I think I’ve come to the point of finally saying goodbye to the HD DVD format and my excellent HD-XA2 player. I suppose I’ve waited long enough for any hope of a comeback, right?



[Crickets chirping in the distance.] Damn….

Besides, I recently moved (again!) to a cozy little 1940s house with a decently-sized, rectangle-shaped living room. Unfortunately, space has become somewhat of an issue, so I’m looking for ways to make the most of my space, which includes figuring out what to do with all my media. (Also, another future topic I plan to write about, where this all hopefully ends with my building an HTPC.) The first lamentable victim of this dilemma is sadly the XA2. There is a bright side to all this, however. Like when your first pet dies and your parents take you to the pound to pick up a new puppy, which oddly does work at making you feel better, the wife has granted me permission to pick up a new toy!

It sure is hard to say goodbye, but I can’t wait to play with its replacement!


  1. Alex

    I know how you feel. I recently finally got rid of my HD-DVD player after finally switching out the last of my HD-DVDs (The Bourne Ultimatum) to Blu-ray. It’s a little bittersweet. Still, that Toshiba was a pretty decent little DVD player as well and I found it a good home. Our local church’s DVD player had just died and so I thought they might be able to use it. It’s now the most advanced player ever hooked into a 19″ CRT television. There’s always life for these things, right?

  2. I have an XA2!! 🙂 Oddly enough, I started with an HD-E1, but it eventually started having problems just outside of warranty… I was a little POed, as I don’t have a big budget for my home entertainment gear. I contacted Toshiba, and they apologised that they no longer had any HD-E1s in stock to replace it with… I was glad that they even considered replacing it outside of warranty, without any complaining (How many companies would do that?), but it looked like I was out of luck… But then they made my day, without any prompting. They apologetically offered me an XA2 as replacement!!!

    Needless to say, I said yes… It’s still the most expensive single piece of equipment in my setup (after the TV), and the best looking, with a remote that looks down with disdain at the others… (Heck, it lights up and has a metal case and buttons and everything!!! It’s dead posh!)

    I still watch my HD-DVDs, and see no reason to replace them with Blu Rays that will be almost exactly the same, and in most cases more expensive to replace than the HD-DVD versions cost me in the first place. So mine is staying in its place of revered excellence. 😉 It may not get used as much, but it still gets used more than often enough to warrant its position. 🙂

  3. I’ll never get rid of mine. I love old-fashioned, failed, flopped or underdog equipment. My cell phone is an N-Gage, my portable audio player is a MiniDisc. I’m still looking for a working Betamax.

    Reconsider, Mr. Duarte! “You might regret it, later in life!” (Marty McFly)

  4. I finally unhooked my A35 when I got my Logitech Revue and needed the extra space. Sold the last of my HD-DVDs to Amazon but my two players sit in the basement with several old receivers, my laserdisc player, and a few extra SD DVD players. I like to imagine it’s like the Toy Story toys down there and they sit and talk to each other about the good old days when they got a lot of use. I refuse to part with them completely though because they didn’t do anything wrong except become obsolete so I’ll continue to give them a good home.

    • Ooohh, I have far too many gadgets that I think do that… 😉 Especially old retro computers! 🙂 Quietly booting up in the dark… a floppy drive here, a tape loader there… an 8bit processor warming up and writing:
      10 PRINT “I’m still here!”
      20 GOTO 10

  5. yeah i still have mine , use it for DVDs and some titles i dont have yet on blu. i still have my old laserdisc player from 20 years ago. its on the floor though i may hook it up to my tv one day.

  6. Still got mine too, still have a few HD DVDs that either arent out yet or I’m waiting till they are cheap enough on Bluray to replace, already bought them in HD once, so not spending $20-$30 again on the Bluray version, so as I find them cheap enough I buy the Bluray and eventually it will be able to come out of my entertainment center 🙂

    • Yeah, this is kinda my thought too.

      I actually never was a huge HD-DVD fan. I picked up a PS3 in January of 2007, shortly after they came out, and didn’t pick up an HD-DVD player until January or February of 2008. The reason I picked up an HD-DVD? I saw the writing on the wall, and figured I could make a killing on picking up cheap movies, which is exactly what I did. Sleepy Hollow new for $6 versus $25 for the Blu-Ray for the same transfer. Matrix Trilogy for $15. Forbidden Planet – $4. Casablanca – $5. Shoot, I am STILL picking up HD-DVDs here and there – just bought Phantom of the Opera and it should be in hopefully today – I already had it on Blu (in fact, it was one of the first discs I bought), but the HD-DVD has a better soundtrack, and I found it for $2.

      No, never was a fan of HD-DVD. I got a few discs new that arrived scratched, and I probably reported 50% of the discs I got from Netflix as scratched or unplayable when I got them. My player never could connect to the internet until a firmware update that was released in I think it was 2009 (yeah, go figure, it was after the death of the format, that I know for sure), and by that time, all the servers were down. But the thing still plays movies, and I have about 30 that I have not bothered to replace with Blu yet. Why bother? They are usually the same transfers and same extras, why pay the extra money to replace them if they still work?

      I plan to run my HD-DVD player until the gears go out.

      As far as old technology, I still have a laserdisc player in my collection (it gets fired up about once every six months) and an SVHS VCR in the mix (been too lazy to convert tapes over, and now I am starting to pay for it – when I do now, the tapes are in such poor condition, I end up running them through Premiere with some DNR, EE, and color correction).

  7. Oddly enough, I also decommisioned my HD DVD player this passed weekend. However, I only removed it because I have other means to play my HD DVD’s and the player itself was just taking up room. I was able to get an LG Blu-ray/HD DVD combo drive back before they stopped production on them, so my HTPC handles all of that kind of stuff now and it just didn’t make sense to leave it hooked up and collecting dust.

    That all being said, I struggle to understand how you could consider blu-ray to be finalized at this point in the game. We have this 3d nonsense and now they’re talking about higher capacity discs which I’m sure will not be compatible with existing players…

    • M. Enois Duarte

      The 3D thing is debatable because as far as I’m aware, it was not part of the original specs of the format. I could be wrong on that, of course. Still, it’s too early to tell if it will really take hold of the market or forever remain a niche.

      The higher capacity discs are definitely something of a concern because the players, in their current configuration, will surely be incompatible. At this point, I’ll be really pissed to have to upgrade so soon.

  8. Although I have a HD DVD player I always use my HTPC to play the discs. All my discs have been ripped onto my Windows Home Server (with 14TB of storage) and I have a fanless Windows 7 HTPC to play them back. I have converted most of the HD DVD rips to Blu-ray so that Arcsoft TMT will bitstream the audio. I could easily disconnect the HD DVD player but I’m not short of space at the moment, hell I still have my Laserdisc player connected!

  9. HD-DVD was doing things that it took blu-ray 2 years to catch up with (watch parties, online interactivity) and was cheaper. But Sony fooled studios with thoughts of tens-of-millions of PS3s in homes across America.

    What a waste.

  10. Patrick A Crone

    My first HD DVD player was the XBOX 360 add on. It wasn’t the best player on the market, but it did the job. I later upgraded to a HD-A2. Literlly the day after I bought it the format was discontinued. I have since purchased 4 more 360 add ons to keep as back up so that my rather large collection stays playable. My A2 has already started having issues with several discs so it’s good to have back ups.

    The format was always a good one. Although I’ve since purchased a PS3 and Sony Blu ray player, I see no need to replace my HD DVDs with BDs. The only films I’ve replaced are Batman Begins and the Harry Potter films. Playing them side by side with their HD DVD counterparts shows just how good the format was.

  11. joseph

    Shame on you, even to this day I refuse to go bluray, I have the xe1, and it has to be the sexiest looking player i have ever clapped eyes on, its built like a tank, weighs a ton, and a remote control that makes all others look like they were purchased from a £1 shop.
    It has all the audio processors you could want and a picture quality even todays bluray players will find hard to match.
    I would also say that it is a excellent dvd upscaler, if you only buy the special edition dvd’s which have been remastered, then the picture is near hd-dvd quality, truly amazing.
    With over 200 hd dvds my xe1 is staying right here with me.
    Don’t get rid off it, cause you’ll end up wanting to go back to it and buying it back off ebay to remenise like i do with gadgets.