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TOSHIBA SD-9000, DVD player, 500

VERDICT ****

 

Whys it here: In case you've been living in a cave for the past five years it's worth knowing that Toshiba had a pivotal role in the development of DVD and are now an active force in promoting both hardware and software. The purpose of the SD-9000 is to showcase the company's considerable expertise with DVD technology, in other words it's a top-of-the-line flagship model the best that Toshiba has to offer, so it should be a bit special! If you are in any doubt this that the SD-9000 is a significant machine just take a look at the price and the weight, it costs 800 and tips the scales at a little over 7kg

 

Any unique features: The main reason the SD-9000 weighs more than twice as much as most other DVD players is because the case is made almost entirely from 22 gauge steel. Toshiba has gone to almost fanatical lengths to eliminate vibration and the top panel has a sheet of aluminium bonded on the underside to stop it resonating. The end result is a player that's as solid as the proverbial brick outhouse! Digital picture processing gets a high priority and this is the first outing for Toshiba's new Super Anti-Alias Digital Filter, which it claims bumps up resolution to 540-lines (500-lines is the current norm). Another new feature is a digital noise reduction circuit, designed to clean up old movies and slapdash transfers. In addition to composite and S-Video outputs it has a set of component (colour difference) outputs. This is worth having if you're using a US TV or projector and play a lot of NTSC material, though to be honest there's no real benefit if you're watching PAL discs or displays; a SCART socket with RGB output would probably be more useful. On the audio front it has an on-board Dolby Digital/MPEG2 decoders and the digital outputs (coaxial and optical) are DTS compliant. It has a good assortment of user adjustments including an AV memory to store colour, brightness, contrast, tint and sharpness settings.   

 

How does it perform: anything less than excellent would have been unacceptable on a DVD player costing the thick end of 800, so we're pleased to say the SD-9000 does live up to expectations. The deck reveals an amazing amount of fine detail, especially in dark or dimly lit scenes. It's almost too good and you can waste a lot of time skimming back and forth spotting ragged edges in movie special effects that tend to get blurred or masked by lesser players. The jog/shuttle dial on the handset makes it easy to go back and analyse a sequence in clinical detail. Layer change occurs less than half a second and picture disruption is minimal. The analogue mixed stereo output is wide and flat with only the faintest hint of hiss. The Dolby Digital channels are similarly crisp, movie soundtracks you thought you knew come alive with unexpected sounds and subtle effects. CDs benefit from the top-notch digital processing and solid mechanics consequently the SD-9000 easily qualifies as a high-grade audio component.     

 

Our Verdict: The SD-9000 costs over twice as much as most other similarly specified players, so can such a price tag be justified?  It's a 'yes-but' sort of answer. Yes, it could be worth 800 to a discerning enthusiast, but only when it's used with the kind of video and hi-fi equipment that can do it justice. It's no good hooking the SD-9000 up to a bog-standard 28-inch living room telly and mid-market DPL mini system and expecting miracles, you've got to think big and wide, and give it free-reign on a decent AC-3 sound system, then you'll have your answer!

  

Toshiba (01276) 62222

 

UP CLOSE

 

Features                    

Region 2 PAL/NTSC, built-in Dolby Digital & MPEG decoders, DTS compatible digital audio output, picture noise reduction, 'Spatializer' 3D sound, jog/shuttle dial, 3-stage picture zoom, user-set picture adjustments (contrast, brightness, colour, tint, sharpness), dynamic range control, NTSC playback, karaoke vocal cut, remote bleeper, glow-in the dark buttons

 

Sockets          

Composite and component (colour difference) video, mixed stereo & 5.1 channel audio outputs (phono), S-Video output (mini DIN), digital audio outputs (coaxial & TOSlink optical), headphones (jack)  

                       

Dimensions                

430 x 96 x 300mm

 

Picture Quality            *****

Sound Quality            *****

Build Quality              ****

Features                     ****

Ease of use                 ****

Overall value              ****

 

Rival Buys

Denon DVD-5000 1600, Kenwood DVF-9010, Sony DVP-S7700 800

 

---end---

R. Maybury 1999, 1309

 

 

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