Finally, Toshiba has also made improvements to the XA2's remote control, which shares the same layout and sturdy, brushed-metal case as the XA1's. The transport keys remain too close and indistinct, but the new remote eschews the original's funky shake-sensitive backlight in favor of one activated by hitting and holding the Backlight button for a few seconds and thereafter by pressing any key, which addresses complaints of battery drain. The flaky navigation rocker from the XA1 has been upgraded to prevent the player from locking up when speeding through setup or disc menus. And the Setup button has been moved up top after having been buried under the sliding door. There's also a new button labeled Picture, about which more later.
SETUP Plugging the Toshiba HD-XA2 into my system was as simple as making an HDMI connection between the player and my A/V receiver, then linking it to my home network with an Ethernet cable. I set the XA2's setup menu to send linear PCM multichannel audio to the receiver and to deliver video at its maximum 1080p resolution. Unlike the XA1, which tapped out at 1080i, the XA2 passes 1080p through HDMI, either from HD DVD discs or upconverted from standard DVDs. It does so only at 60 frames per second, however, with no option for taking the native 1080p/24-frame signal off an HD DVD and passing it to a TV that can accept 1080p at 24 fps (a future firmware update supposedly will address this).
I also tested the component-video output and both the bitstream audio and 5.1-channel analog audio outputs. The latter option lets you tap Dolby TrueHD soundtracks if you lack a receiver or processor that accepts multichannel PCM via HDMI.
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