Not knowing whether or not it played HDDVD's from Region 1 - (the USA), I decided to take a gamble and order '300' on HDDVD from playusa - the us version of this website... My details were already registered. In the US, HDDVD has titles such as the Matrix Triology and TV show Heroes to name a few exlusives against Blu-Ray.
'300' played straight away, it updated via Xbox live, which the player has done often... This is great news for me, as I will now, without doubt order many HDDVD's tha aren't available more cheaply on playusa.com!! To answer someone elses question it has played any HDDVD disk I have put in... I guess so long as your on Xbox live you will always get player updates. Due to it being a multi-region HDDVD player it gets an extra star, and for just over £100 amazing value for a next gen player.... Even though it is not a truly, fully, next gen HDDVD player.
So, my actual review of the product... Have an Xbox 360, love movies, then this is a very tempting buy. Just £110, including the multimedia remote which sold seperatly costs £20. Just £130 to start enjoying HD movies. And if your on Xbox live, the recent firmware update has removed almost all the motion judder the player had. Making the picture fantastic
The problem is though, without an HDMI interface, the maximum resolution I can got from my player is 1080i. Even though I have a full HD 1080p TV - It just won't accept these over VGA or component.
Great the picture is, but not the next gen 1080p that HDDVD's offer. Microsoft say you can get 1080p, I couldn't via VGA or component... So if its what you want, then check if your TV's PC input can display 1980 by 1080 lines, and your component input can accept 1080p.
Waiting to get an X360 -the new Elite includes and HDMI output which if you have yet to buy will resolve the problem.
Again, without the HDMI interface, the player is not capable at present to output uncompressed PCM audio, the Dolby True HD, DTS Master Audio and Dolby Digital plus (which are the next gen sound formats), but at time of writing their are no amplifiers that can take this signal anyway. The X360 can also not output DTS surround sound so you are limited to Dolby Digital.
That said, the HDDVD's show the big leap forward in picture definition over standard DVD's. The likes of Batman Begins, King Kong and Swordfish all show great colours and detail over the standard DVD's I owned.
A recent Xbox live firmware update has removed the big problem of motion judder. Now there is very little motion judder in slow moving scenes.
Again though, at time of writing Blu-Ray has more titles available and more than 70 releases planned to HDDVD's current 20. Which is a little worrying althought it is early in the format war. There is 70 HDDVD titles and 200 Blu-rays.
Even though not truly next Gen HDDVD player, it is still fantastic value, and over the Xbox's Component connection (I bought the superior Monster Component Cable) the images are excellent, great blacks, little pixelation, sharp edges and Dolby Digital surround sound is great.
Well done Microsoft for this add on. Gives us gamers the option of paying extra for the HDDVD drive if we are movie lovers too. And gamers who aren't intrested the chance to stick with just their games machine and save the £130