Toshiba SD-1200 DVD Player

    The Toshiba SD-1200 is Toshiba's replacement for the venerable SD-2109, a phenomenally popular DVD player in its time, mainly because of its unbeatable combination of price and performance. The SD-1200 is fundamentally a very similar player to the exceptional SD-2109 but addresses a number of the shortcomings of the prior unit. The end result is another exceptionally rock-solid DVD player from Toshiba, and another that performs very well at its core task of playing DVDs.

What's In The Box

    The following items are included in the box;     The Toshiba SD-1200 is only available in Black.

Front Panel

    The Toshiba SD-1200 has a spartan but quite functional front panel.

    The left side of the front panel carries a soft power on-off switch. When the unit is powered up, you are greeted with a friendly "Welcome to Toshiba DVD" message.

    The center of the front panel carries the disc tray and the very pleasing-to-the-eye fluorescent display. The fluorescent display can be dimmed in two steps via the remote control, however, the player will not remember this setting when it is powered down, a minor operational irritation. One very pleasing item on the fluorescent display is an icon which flashes whenever multi-angle content is detected.

    To the right of the disc tray is the tray open/close button. This is positioned somewhat lower than I would have liked, but I got used to it soon enough. Further to the right are the player navigation buttons, which consist of PAUSE, STOP, CHAPTER SKIP FORWARDS, CHAPTER SKIP BACKWARDS and an oversize PLAY button.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel of this player is equipped with a basic selection of outputs, however everything that you need is present and accounted for. From left to right;

    The video connectors are arranged in an L-shaped configuration and consist of an S-Video output, a composite video output and colour-coded component video outputs utilizing RCA-style connectors.

    The audio connectors are arranged in an interlocking L-shape with the video connectors, making for a very crowded rear panel configuration indeed. They consist of left and right analogue audio outputs, a coaxial digital audio output and an optical digital output.

    On the far right of the rear panel is a power cable, utilizing the standard "figure-of-eight" connector.

Remote Control

    The Toshiba SD-1200 remote control is a passable remote control, without being particularly good or bad. It is, however, somewhat better than the remote control that came with its predecessor, the SD-2109.

    The most obvious improvement to this remote control is in its physical size. The remote is significantly larger than its predecessor was. Since I no longer have my Toshiba 2109, I'm not sure whether the outer casing of this remote is simply larger or whether the buttons have also been spread out slightly, but it did give me the impression of greater button spacing and subsequently greater ease of use, even though the button layout is the same. It certainly felt more comfortable to hold.

    The centrepiece of this remote control are the arrow and ENTER keys, which are ergonomically laid out in the centre of the remote control. Below this are the 8 main DVD navigation buttons. I found it was relatively easy to press inappropriate navigation buttons when using this remote, particularly the STOP button, which was a minor operational annoyance. It is also relatively difficult to locate the AUDIO, SUBTITLE and ANGLE buttons on this remote, as they are almost at the top, a long way away from the central arrow key layout. Additionally, the SUBTITLE button is a little illogical in its operation.  Pressing this button toggles through the available subtitles on a DVD, but doesn't actually turn them on - you need to press the RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW button to actually turn them on or off.

    The operating range and angle of operation of the remote control were perfectly satisfactory.

    One specific feature that I found annoying about this remote control but others may like is the Remote Confirmation function, a beep that sounds from the DVD player whenever a keypress is registered from the remote control. Fortunately, this function is able to be disabled from the setup menu, so you can turn it off if it irritates you. Turning this function off was one of the very first things that I actually did with this DVD player.


    The manual is well-written and comprehensive without being excessively verbose. All of the information that you require for operation of the DVD player and then some is included in a well laid-out fashion, with only one or two concepts discussed per page. Sensibly, discussion of the intricacies of the DVD player's set-up menu is deferred to the latter part of the manual.

Set-Up Menu

    The set-up menu of the Toshiba 1200 is attractive, elegantly laid-out and easy to navigate. All of the options that you would expect to find in such a menu are present and accounted for and in their logical places.

Video Playback

    All video playback tests were performed with the player set to 16x9 output mode, utilizing its S-Video output.

    The Toshiba 1200 produced a generally immaculate image, with some very minor caveats. Images were always crisp, clear and very sharp indeed. Much is made in the promotional literature for the Toshiba 1200 of the increased horizontal resolution of this DVD player (540 lines of horizontal resolution versus 500 for most other DVD players), but to be honest I could see no discernible difference in the sharpness of its image output.

    A minor and unusual issue with this DVD player is that the NTSC image is somewhat brighter than the PAL image. Normally, when evaluating a DVD player, I set the black and white levels on my display device utilizing an NTSC test disc (Video Essentials). The same settings usually work perfectly for PAL as well. In the case of the Toshiba 1200, I found that the NTSC settings needed to be significantly lower than my usual settings in order to produce a properly calibrated NTSC video image. This translated into a very dark image when viewing PAL DVDs. Having said that, there is an option within the setup menu to enable "Enhanced" black level with NTSC DVDs, which lowers the black level for NTSC output. Utilizing this setting, the black levels are much closer between the NTSC and PAL settings, however, the white level still needs to be set lower for NTSC than PAL. What's the significance of all of this? Purists who want to view both PAL and NTSC source material will probably shy away from this player to a certain extent unless they have a display device that can memorize different brightness and contrast settings for different input channels. Everyone else will probably best be served by utilizing the "Enhanced" black level setting and setting the white level (contrast) to suit PAL. NTSC DVDs will be a touch bright, but this is better than having PAL DVDs look too dark.

    In the end, after playing around with my display device settings for quite some time, I evaluated this DVD player with my usual PAL display device settings, which resulted in a slightly bright looking NTSC image but a perfectly acceptable and normal looking PAL image.

    Another minor issue with this player's video output was a unique artefact that this player produced on very rare occasions. Very rarely, a portion of the image would exhibit a "herringbone" pattern whilst it was in motion. The best example of this that I could find was on the test Image Montage on the Video Essentials DVD, from 00:26 - 00:31. This effect could be seen on a red T-shirt. I only saw this artefact on video-based programming, and never on movie programming. I must stress that this was a very rare and quite subtle artefact which only cropped up for very brief moments on the occasional DVD and by no means did anything other than very slightly mar the viewing experience of this DVD player. It has, however, lead me to mark down the performance rating of this DVD player ever so slightly. I suspect that this effect comes about as a result of the increased horizontal resolution of this DVD player and the anti-aliasing filters that are subsequently required in the player.

    The player is marked as a Zone 4 player and would only play appropriately zoned DVDs.

    The fast forward and fast reverse functions of this player are of average smoothness. 2x, 8x and 30x speeds are available.

    RSDL layer changes resulted in a short pause, typically of the order of 1/4 - 1/2 second.

On Screen Display

    The on-screen display is attractive and informative, with a relatively small but very clear font. You are presented with information on elapsed and remaining time for the current title and chapter, and audio/subtitle information. An additional keypress of the DISPLAY button will result in the display of a bit rate meter and a final keypress will show any DVD-Text encoded onto the current DVD.

    A notable omission from the On Screen Display is the total running time for a title. This can be calculated by adding the time remaining to the time elapsed but it would have been nice to include this additional tidbit of information on-screen.

    Another notable omission from the On Screen Display is the omission of full names for subtitle tracks. Instead of English, we get ENG. This is just fine for the more common languages, but working out what subtitle languages IW (Hebrew) and HR (Croatian) are is not easy.

    Functional key-presses on the remote are accompanied by various appropriate words appearing on the on-screen display such as Open and Play.

Standards Conversions

    The Toshiba 1200 cannot perform any standards conversions for DVD. The manual and set-up menu are slightly misleading in their implication that some standards conversions are possible. They are not.

CDR & Video CD

    The Toshiba 1200 cannot play back CD-R media. It can, however, play back original, pressed Video CDs.

Audio Playback

    I only used this DVD player with its coaxial digital output, and had essentially no problems at all.

    Subjectively, there was occasionally a very subtle hint at an audio sync problem. The usual DVD test passage that I use for testing this, The Matrix Chapter 5, played back nicely in sync, however, one other DVD that I tried, Metallica: S&M was marginally out of sync during Chapters 6 and 7 on Disc 2. On my reference DVD player, this sync problem was not apparent. I must stress that this sync problem was very marginal even at its worst, and right on the limit of perceptibility. I suspect that very few will actually notice any sync problems at all during normal operation of this DVD player.

    Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay was 13 milliseconds. This is consistent with the subjective impression that I got with this DVD player of a very subtle audio sync problem under the most extreme of circumstances.

    DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player. MPEG audio bitstreams are output as native MPEG only.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    No DVD that I tested caused any playback problems on the Toshiba 1200.


The Good Points
    Generally superb image quality.

    Flashing multi-angle icon on the fluorescent display.

The Bad Points
    Doesn't play CDRs.

    PAL and NTSC calibrations are different.

    Some very minor image glitches.

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output 96/24 Output
Plays CDRs
Conversion None
Inbuilt Decoder None

In Closing

    Toshiba have a fine DVD player in the SD-1200. Whilst perhaps not quite up to the standard of its predecessor, it is still an excellent performer at an excellent price, and will certainly please all but the most fussy of videophiles.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

Product Type: DVD-Video, Video CD and Audio CD player
Region: Zone 4 (Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America, Mexico)
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
MPEG Decoder: Zoran/Fujifilm MD36710X (Vaddis III)
Audio Frequency Response: 4Hz - 22kHz (48kHz sampling)
4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
Signal to Noise Ratio: 112dB
Dynamic Range: 105dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.002%
Dimensions: 430 (w) x 305 (d) x 81 (h)
Weight: 3.0kg
Price: $599
Distributor: Castel Electronics Pty Ltd
103-119 Gipps Street
Collingwood  VIC  3066
Telephone: (03) 9416-3688
Facsimile: (03) 9416-3730

© Michael Demtschyna
25th July 2000