When the Toshiba HD-EP30 HD DVD player landed on our doormat yesterday, we were keen to put it next to our long-term loan sampleand see how the two players differ. This is especially important because if you're an American (the EP30 is called the A30 in the US and the E1 is known as the A2), or you shop around, the E1 can be bought for a .
So, what joy does the EP30 (pictured top) offer that the E1 (bottom) didn't? Well, for a start it can chuck video out at 1080p, which is a very welcome addition indeed. It also supports the 24p movie-enhancing format out of the box. There are also some minor cosmetic alterations and a significantly less cool power button.
The EP30 can be bought online for as little as £210, and that includes seven free HD DVDs, which is an awesome offer.
At first glance, the two players look very similar. Until you realise that Toshiba has, for some reason, reversed the layout almost totally. The display on the E1 is to the right, while on the EP30 it's been moved to the left.
Apart from this reversal, the players do look fairly similar. The EP30 is more rounded though, which is pleasant and makes the players look a little less retro and 80s. Although to be honest, the fact that the E1 and XE1 looked like VHS decks was something that appealed to our nostalgic side.
You may also notice that the basic playback controls are no longer hidden under a flap on the EP10, the only thing concealed is the single USB socket. Click through for more photos.
To the rear, we see the same crazy reversal. The E30's (top) power socket is now on the opposite side, and the HDMI is now at the far right, instead of in the middle. Other than that, the two are pretty similar.
You might also notice that Toshiba has removed the S-Video socket. We'd be tempted to moan about this, but S-Video doesn't exactly support 1080p anyway, so we'll let it slide. The composite video out does get to stay though.
The EP30's remote control (right) is quite different too. Toshiba has dropped the TV controls from the top section, and has changed the glossy black plastic for a more muted matte black.
We rather like the new, smaller remote control, and those TV controls weren't that useful anyway.
During our photoshoot, the covers fell off both of the HD DVD players. We have no idea how it happened -- honest, guv -- but while they were naked, we took advantage of the situation and fired off a few photos.
As you can see, the internals are broadly the same, but there does seem to be a slight simplification of the mainboard in the EP30 (right). Presumably the reduction in chips with heatsinks means less heat and reduced production costs.
And finally, just a brief note on the power buttons. We much prefer the older E1's power button (left) -- it's much classier than it's new upstart younger brother.
We'll have a full in-depth review of the Toshiba HD-E30 for you soon, in which we'll give its picture performance a right good going over, and no mistake. -Ian Morris