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Onkyo (finally) makes its HD DVD player official

Onkyo has announced 's first HD DVD player, the DV-HD805, will launch this fall for $900.

Onkyo DV-HD805
Onkyo has finally spilled the details on its first HD DVD player Onkyo

Following months of hints and peeks, Onkyo has finally made the details of its first HD DVD player official. Available this fall, the $900 DV-HD805 is a return to the high-end for the HD DVD format, which has seen prices dropping as low as $250 this year. In addition to the Ethernet port, Web connectivity, and built-in memory found on all HD DVD players, the DV-HD805 looks to have all of the bleeding-edge HDMI 1.3 features of the newly announced third-generation Toshiba players, including support for 24-frame 1080p video, Deep Color compatibility, and lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream passthrough modes. As with those just-announced Toshibas, however, the same caveats apply: you'll need to connect the DV-HD805 to compatible TVs and AV receivers--and play discs that are properly encoded--in order to utilize those features. And in some cases (especially regarding Deep Color), the hardware and software just doesn't really exist yet. On the bright side, the Onkyo--and the Toshibas--can be considered a lot more future-proof than many of their Blu-ray counterparts.

Why pay $400 more for the Onkyo over the Toshiba HD-A35, which boasts a nearly identical feature set? Onkyo is touting the DV-HD805's HQV Reon VX video processor. In previous products, the HQV chips have delivered superior DVD upscaling and HD deinterlacing--enough so that hardcore videophiles will happily pay a several-hundred-dollar premium. (Toshiba has yet to confirm which video processor the A35 will utilize.)

Of course, the whole pesky "HD DVD vs. Blu-ray" format war question hangs over every such hardware announcement. Consider, for instance, that the price of the LG BH100, which plays both types of HD discs, has already sunk below the Onkyo's $900 price tag, and both LG and Samsung have new dual-format players slated for later this year. But we won't know if those new universal players include the same set of enthusiast features as the Onkyo until the full specs on those competing products are announced.