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Monster Head2Head - Toshiba 340E | Pioneer 575A-s | Yamaha DVDS540 (All under £110 !)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Raze, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. Raze

    Raze
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    As many of you know I have been searching for the best DVD player under £150. I've asked many questions and read lots of reviews/threads however I needed to see for myself just which one is best for me!

    So the very nice manager Tom, at Richer sounds Cardiff has allowed me to buy all three models and be able to return the two I do not go for within 7 days as he himself is interested in my findings...

    I will be testing them with a recently purchased Toshiba 36ZP46P (Picture Frame 3). All tests will be the same and I will duplicate them for Scart RGB and Component.

    The tests will be based around what matters most to many of us and thats the quality of DVD playback, although I may take a look at the other features such as Div X playback etc however these are not a priority for me and will depend on time available.

    Please watch this space as I have only just got home!!!...
     
  2. TopMeTom

    TopMeTom
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    Oh come on raze I have not got all night!!!!hehe
     
  3. giger

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    Tv arriving next week, what's the news?!?!?

    Hoping for the Tosh here, had 3 Tosh DVD players so far, all have been more than impressive.

    How's it looking?
     
  4. Raze

    Raze
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    wow - there is a clear winner!!
    I am extremely surprised!
    Will report back soon - I'm too busy enjoying my _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ :)
     
  5. phillfyspoon

    phillfyspoon
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    R u writing a big long review right now...
     
  6. YorkDVD

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    Hi Raze I am also interested in the out come of your test and review as I am after replacing my aging Sony DVP-NS300 with either the Toshiba or Pioneer(not looked at the Yamaha) to feed my Projector a Epson TW10H.
    A lot of members seem to prefer the Pioneer though.
     
  7. Raze

    Raze
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    Ok after switching over from one to another and then over and over and then unpacking the losing two and re-demoing them and going through another bunch of dvds my mind has zonked out! (Although has remained unchanged with regards to the winner). So please bear with me until tomoro and I will reveal all...
     
  8. Prometheus

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    Raze.... if you not still zonked :zonked: I am interested in any significant factors in CD audio playback as I am looking to replace my machine and I want it for music as well. I would really appreciate your opinion. Thanks a lot :beer:
     
  9. sparticus

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    Come on raze.
    The suspense is worse than stopping smoking. Ive bought the 36zp couple of weeks ago and only couple of days ago changed my 565 for a 575 and cant tell difference. Id considered the three your testing and love to know your results.
     
  10. Raze

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    Sorry to keep u all waiting!!

    I'm hoping to do it tonight - as am a tad busy at work at the mo :-(
     
  11. bonzobanana

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    I'd be interested to hear how the Pioneer and Toshiba compare with regards picture quality. Both players based on the same chip and coming out of the same sort of chinese factories I wonder how they differ with regards image. The Yamaha if I recall correctly is very similar to an older Philips model and possibly based on a completely different chipset like Zoran. On my AE100 projector Zoran based players always seem to give a better picture. The AE100 isn't a particularly high resolution projector so maybe doesn't show every fine detail but really benefits from a nice clean image which the zoran based players seem to do well. However thats LCD where as your using a CRT and so perhaps results will be a lot different because of that.
     
  12. TopMeTom

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    come on raze.....
     
  13. Raze

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    PRECONCEPTIONS / EXPECTATIONS

    Ok. We all have them. I had mine and I will share them with you…

    As many of you have picked up upon and mentioned above even, the Pioneer 575 has a huge following, has great reviews and hardly any bad words are said about it on the forums. Out of all three I was expecting this one to win hands down purely because of the reputation this unit has. And I can see why it has this rep, but more on that later…

    The Toshiba 340e, well in all honesty I was expecting this one to do the poorest (out of the three), because of two simple things, the price (the rrp is only £90!) and the psychical size of the machine – it's tiny!! (Had to be some corners cut to get a decent system in that tight space right?).

    The Yamaha DVDS540, was kind of thrown in for good measure purely because it fit in the same price range, has similar specs and was well, a Yamaha. From past experience Yamaha had always produced excellent audio equipment and I wondered, just a little, how good their visual stuff was…


    PRICE

    All three were less than £110 each!

    Pioneer 575 - £109 from Richer Sounds
    Toshiba 340e - £69 from Richer Sounds (Includes free Monsters Inc DVD)
    Yamaha DVDS540 - £79 from Richer Sounds

    However be sure to take a printout of the prices from their website as their instore prices may vary: www.richersounds.co.uk

    Also, a quick note about the shop. The staff were very friendly and as mentioned in my first post, the Manager Tom, allowed me to take all three models and bring back the two that I did not want, although he was also interested in my findings I think they would be happy to do this for anyone, so long as you returned the ones you did not want to keep in A1 condition.


    FIRST IMPRESSIONS

    The Toshiba ‘looks' great and would do any modern TV justice sitting snugly underneath it. The player is small and light, and on handling it it does not feel like a quality unit. Turn it on and you are greeted by a fairly plain/average welcome screen (this can be good or bad depending on taste). The remote control is tiny and the worst of all three models, however it's something that you would get used to over time and if you are a lucky sod with a Toshiba TV, you can use the TVs remote to control most of the DVD functions.

    The Pioneer also ‘looks' great and again would look more than ok alongside any modern TV set. It is also on the small side (but not as small as the Toshiba) and again on handling it, it, because of it's weight and build, does not feel like a quality product. The remote control however is another matter and is the best out of the three, nice sized buttons intuitively located. Switch it on and the first thing that hits you is ‘wow'. The Pioneer logo in deep pink in the lower mid of the screen – very modern, sleek feel to it. At this point I sooooooo wanted the Pioneer to be the winner cos this screen was so trendy and slick! The OSD/menu is also well designed with a host of options. Out of the three the Pio's start up screen and OSD won hands down.

    The Yamaha looks like a ‘proper' DVD player, it's full size and heavier than the other two and feels like quality, however it may appear ‘chunky' to some. The thing I didn't like about it's appearance is it's orrible orange lights on the lcd screen at the front – yuk! The remote is ok, and a better size than the Toshiba's although it didn't have an eject button! (I'm nitpicking now!). Turn it on and you are greeted by the Yamaha start-up screen, which looks a little outdated, mostly black with the ‘earth' at the top mid and the expected Yamaha name. The OSD was nothing special either another fairly basic affair.

    FEATURES / GIMMICKS

    Ok, I'm not going to go into the features of each of these machines because they are well documented on their respective websites. In addition I must point out that the main criteria my review is based on is picture quality ie. Movie playback, not the amount of features each unit has.


    THE BIT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR…MOVIE PLAYBACK

    Where do I start and how should I write this bit? An ‘overall' summing up or a Player by Player breakdown? Ok, how about a bit of both…

    Let's start with all three… You will not be disappointed whichever player you choose because they all offer excellent movie playback. The decoding and PQ is as good as you'll get without, in my opinion, spending heaps (and I mean heaps!) more! For the sake of people who already own one of the models I would like to say that the difference between all three is minor but it's not. However I can say the playback between the Yamaha and the Pioneer is very similar in terms of what you see on-screen – the colour, contrast and contours of objects are very alike. The only minor difference is the Yamaha is very slightly (and I mean very slightly) smoother and the Pioneer has slightly better contrast. I also noticed the Pioneer and Toshiba ‘jump' slightly in exactly the same place when viewing LOTR The ROT King, the disc had a small smudge and I suspect this was the problem (The Yamaha was un-phased by it tho).

    Originally I had intended to make my comparisons with both scart and components however it quickly became evident that using scart was a waste of time – the PQ is pretty much the same except for one important difference.. jaggies! Basically these appear around the edges of objects and all models were the same when connected via rgb scart – however this is not the fault of the DVD players but a limitation of the technology, component inputs with progressive scan offer a better resolution therefore better PQ. It was frustrating switching back to scart when I knew I didn't want to watch anymore with scart because I knew Components were better (!) – so I decided to do no further testing with scart to save time. However if you're reading this and do not have components on your TV set, don't worry because you won't know any difference and the players performed exceptionally via scart (just you get even better performance when you hook up via Comp's).

    So basically the movie playback on both Yamaha and Pioneer are on a par. But where does this leave the Toshiba? Well this is where I was surprised. The Toshiba excelled in picture performance – the colours were amazing, the contrast fantastic and most importantly the contours were as sharp as you can get! (Unless you spend a lot lot more that is!). Flesh tones were excellent – pale faces a thing of the past! The characters looking alive and right there in front of me, not in a ‘box'! I cannot stress how good the picture quality is of this unit – if in any doubt do what I did, buy this model and another of your choice and compare the two and see for yourself! Watching Monsters Inc blew me away – the characters look ‘3D' the contours were reproduced effortlessly, and the characters really, really looked like they were ‘real' living, breathing, ‘cartoons' (!).


    SOUND

    Very little in the sound, they all sound excellent – however I am yet to test cd playback and will give you an update on this later.


    VERDICT

    As I said previously, you can't go wrong with either of these models as they all do what they do brilliantly. However some do them more brilliantly than others! Namely the Toshiba but I'll come back to it in a mo. If I had to choose the weakest of the three it would be the Yamaha, not because of it's movie playback ability but because it doesn't really offer anything ‘more' than any of the others apart from a suspected longer life due to it's better build quality.

    So that leaves the Pioneer and the Toshiba. As we've seen/read many times before, people often find themselves with this as a choice. I'll be completely honest – I really, really really wanted the Pioneer to win. Why? Purely because you get such a fantastic feel from it when you turn the damn thing on! That deep pink Pioneer logo on the screen looks awesome. And then there's the menu and OSD it just feels so good. I suspect these are the reasons it has such a great sales record, it's fantastic feel it just oozes quality and slickness. But wait. That's all before we've even played a movie! However you won't be disappointed there either, as movie playback is excellent and so the Pioneer deserves to be the success it is. Great you say! Then Go Get it? But there's a but and that but is that I'm a bit of a perfectionist – the most important thing for me would be picture quality and movie experience. And that's where the Pioneer losses to the Toshiba. The Toshiba is simply awesome, there is a significant improvement over the Pioneer and Yamaha models and I haven't even begun to bring cost into this!! I was gob smacked when I found I could see with the naked eye the improvement in quality over the other two models (normally you need a magnifying glass to spot the difference!!). The PQ is so good that you feel you are there, and the characters on screen really do look realer than real! (God help us when we watch a horror movie!!). Am I drumming the point home yet? If not, in a nutshell… you can't beat the picture quality of the Toshiba 340E not for the same price, not even twice the price and I very much suspect not even 3 or 4 times the price. If you haven't already got one, get one. And if you've got one, rest assured that your dvd player is as good as it gets without having to spend a small but just as big, fortune...


    ---

    Edit: 16 Jan:

    Please note I have an important update to make about this head to head! Let's call it, ROUND TWO!. Please watch this space!
     
  14. phillfyspoon

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    WOW my mum has this set in her bedroom (toshiba) lol and a denon 1705 in the main room. It is tiny and very light mite check it out over the denon. when I go round there sunday.
     
  15. Raze

    Raze
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    Yes please do Philly - I think you will be pleasently surprised!! :)
     
  16. Dean

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    Perhaps there is some 'synergy' between the your Tosh TV and the Tosh DVD player. Good write up, bought my Pio blind as heard so many good things and definitely not disappointed. Plus i like having the DVD-A/SACD thing although most people won't need this.
     
  17. abnett26247

    abnett26247
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    Go to toshiba site they will sell you one direct inc postage( free) £69 .99 dont know if its multi though? abnett www..toshiba . co .uk. ABNETT,
     
  18. neuty

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    i`ve almost peed my pants waiting for your report.
    i am on my third tosh player,
    1..2107
    2..100e
    3..210e (now dieing slowly).

    i`ve posted a thread last week on these players and the denon 1910 and was like you really hoping the pioneer would win, but in the back of my mind i have had soft spot for another tosh knowing just how good the 340e really is.

    i had infact made up my mind on the pioneer,but had doubt`s on whether i would use dvda/sacd and whether it`s all worth the bother.

    you have now made my mind up completely,it`s got to be another tosh.

    thanx Raze exellent read
     
  19. bonzobanana

    bonzobanana
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    Interesting result. I expected the Pioneer and Toshiba to be broadly similar. What Hifi claims the Pioneer has a better picture than the Toshiba but only slightly. Certainly with regards functionality the Pioneer appears to be far superior and from the sound of it the Yamaha has the better dvd drive.

    My progressive display device is a LCD projector and maybe the results would be different from that of a CRT.
     
  20. TopMeTom

    TopMeTom
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    What a great review!

    Thanks Raze,wonder what the pq would be like on my sim2......
     
  21. Raze

    Raze
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    I would urge anyone who has the slightest doubt to please please please do as I did, go to richer sounds, buy both and make up your own mind (and then take one back). I was so dumbstruck that I thought I must have done something wrong, surely the Pioneer had to be the best! I then unpacked the Pio again and did some more testing, but the more material I looked at the more the Toshiba came out on top. I am as shocked as you guys!
     
  22. MSYam

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    Well done Raze, this will have helped a lot of people out - including myself.

    However, one of my main priorities is sound quality. You didnt really mention much about the sound quality. I used to have the S540 and although the picture was excellent, the reason I upgraded was due to it's sound performance. Good though it is for a budget player, I was expecting better.

    Could you let us know how the three performed sound-wise? I am tempted with the Tosh because of it's excellent picture, but although its only £70, I dont want to waste my money finding the sound is not up to much. If the sound is as good as the picture, were all on to a winner!
     
  23. Raze

    Raze
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    Hi All - I'm glad the review is helping you guys.

    In terms of sound do you mean CD playback? If so I will be looking into it over the weekend. However if you mean in-Movie sound then there really wasn't much in the the three, however I will take another more indepth look when I test the CD performance.
     
  24. cirdan

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    ive been thinking about the yamaha for a few weeks, know its under £80. the main reason was build quality, i know its the bigger of the three but that doesnt bother me.

    i have the pioneer 370, great little player but its a little noisey, bit too much when you watch quite a lot of dvd's, what are the pioneer,tosh and yamaha like here, which is quiter when playing a disk, i know players make some noise but usually once the film starts they are normally pretty quiet.
     
  25. Ninjaman

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    I have got a pioneer but I only use it for Scad/cd replay. Ask my dvi momitsu is king on video performance and I think will own them all. At least I hope. Very good review.
     
  26. gandley

    gandley
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    I just bought a tosh 340e for my nephew as a gift and i can honestly say when used via component the pic is suprisingly good. Infact for £69 pound its an amazing bargain. the pic it kicks out is that good, i just could not believe it was so cheap.(except for the build quality lets it down but that dosent effect the onscreen quality)

    Sound wise its a dead dog, but if you want a cheap dvd player just for movies then this model is awesome for the price
     
  27. MSYam

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    It's not CD playback i'm too bothered about, as I have a seperate unit for that. It's sound quality whilst watching DVDs in surround i'm thinking of.
     
  28. gandley

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    Surround quality with films is just as good as anything else i have ever heard.
    At the end of the day its the AMPS quality which will effect Surround sound more.
     
  29. MSYam

    MSYam
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    Certainly the amps do play a big part in the sound production, but I also think the source is very important i.e. you wouldnt use a £1000 stereo amp with a £100 CD player. I have had numerous budget DVD players in the past, but the slightly more expensive units i.e. Cambridge Audio 540D, were much better with sound.

    I suppose at £70 though i'd be daft not to try it!
     
  30. gandley

    gandley
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    well for movies it performs well enough. The pic quality makes it worth a try,
    its very very good
     

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