Toshiba's new HDD-J35 set top box is not only one of the few high definition (HD) digital boxes out with a built-in hard drive, it's also the first in Australia to feature a HDMI output. HDMI is an emerging all-digital connection which can carry uncompressed high definition video and audio through the one cable. That means sharper pictures and crisp sound as the AV data does not have to be converted into analog and back again between devices.
The HDD-J35 is a true HD set top box, and supports 1920x1080i, 1280x720p, 720x576p, and 720x576i (PAL) resolutions. The box comes with two digital tuners, allowing you to watch and record two different programs, or have two different channels running picture in picture.
Its built-in 160GB is one of the biggest on the market, and will allow you record dozens of hours of television. The HDD-J35 gives you Time Slip functions when recording (which lets you watch the start of a program while you're recording the end of it), and allows you to pause live TV.
Apart from the impressive HDMI output, the HDD-J35 isn't slacking off when it comes to other connectors. Its other outputs include RGB, component, S-Video, composite, digital optical audio, digital coaxial audio and two analog audio outputs. Inputs include component, composite, analog audio and more.
At AU$1699, the HDD-J35 is a rather pricey. In fact, a quick check on Digital Broadcasting Australia's list of set top boxes in Australia shows it's the priciest there. The price, however, has to be weighed up with the fact that not only are you getting a HD set top box, but you're also getting a personal digital recorder with a truck full of hard disk capacity. Obviously its performance is the best arbiter of value, so we'll have to wait until our full review before we give a final assessment.
Toshiba's HDD-J35 high definition set top box boasts some top notch features, particularly the HDMI output and large hard drive. Price may be an issue, but if you want the latest and greatest it's tough to beat.