Nuon's ability to play games puts it somewhere between a home-theater center and a PlayStation. However, there's only a limited number of games available, and they have graphics that can't touch those of the newer consoles, such as the visuals found on the PlayStation 2 (which also plays DVDs, though not at the quality level of a dedicated DVD player).
Video quality is the most important aspect of a player, and with movies, the Toshiba SD2300 performs as well as or slightly better than other DVD players in its price range. We detected no visual artifacts, and the blacks appeared black. While we saw some minimal pixelation with a test disc, this wasn't a problem when we were watching movies. Antz produced enjoyable sound and a crisp picture. Some upcoming DVD titles will also have special features that can be "unlocked" by Nuon players. The first such title, Bedazzled, looked good, but more importantly, you'll be treated to an interactive fashion show with Elizabeth Hurley.
Videophiles will love the Toshiba SD2300's ability to call up menus during a movie and zoom in on the action, midsentence. A feature called Virtual Remote gives you a handy visual of your onscreen options, which is great for switching among scenes or watching your favorite scene over and over again. And the physical remote is far superior to the one included with the Samsung DVD-N2000. While several buttons on the SD2300's remote are hidden under a clamshell cover, the control's intuitive design makes it a winner.
The Toshiba SD2300 handles zooms fairly well, although by the time you've zoomed in to 20X, what you're seeing won't be all that clear. You can choose either a traditional picture-box aspect-ratio frame or full-screen viewing, and you can switch between them midmovie.
The box itself feels surprisingly light and doesn't seem very sturdy, although the metal finish on the front of the chassis lends some style. The SD2300 has the usual stable of composite, component, and S-Video outputs for your TV. Unfortunately, the unit doesn't include a digital optical output, which makes for limited audio options.
Toshiba added Virtual 3D Sound, which makes for a more booming theater experience at the touch of the button. The difference between regular audio and 3D is easily detectable: if you're just playing music CDs, the Virtual Light Machine displays groovy visualizations (similar to those in PC audio software) that'll turn your living room into Studio 54.
Unfortunately, the SD2300 doesn't play CD-Rs, CD-RWs, or VideoCDs. And while the street price is reasonable, you can find Samsung's equally capable but more flexible Nuon player for less. We just wish that, for the price, someone would build a multidisc Nuon player so that all the neat extras could make these players truly stand-out home-entertainment systems.
With its extra video features and the few games you can get for the machine, the Toshiba SD2300 can make a good addition to your home-theater setup. But with the costs for entry-level DVD players and Samsung's similar DVD-N2000 dropping, the $400 list price may not make the extras worth it, and the single-disc tray is definitely a drawback if you want to make the SD2300 the center of your home theater.