Toshiba SD-1300 DVD Player

    The Toshiba SD-1300 DVD player replaces Toshiba's previously-released SD-1200 and SD-1250 DVD players. The Toshiba SD-1250 was notable in that it was the first Toshiba DVD player to support CD-R playback. The Toshiba SD-1300 is notable in that not only does it support CD-R playback, but it also supports MP3 playback, making Toshiba the first of the "big three" to support this feature. Until now, the only way to get MP3 playback in a DVD player was to go for a no-name player, along with the concomitant lack of firmware stability and quality control that this often entailed. With the release of the SD-1300, aggressively priced at $499, there is even less reason than before to look at anything other than a name brand when considering a DVD player purchase.

What's In The Box

    The following items are included with each player;     The Toshiba SD-1300 is only available in Black.

    The first thing that struck me about the Toshiba SD-1300 was the fact that the unit had significantly less depth than previous Toshiba models. At only 22.5cm deep, this is one of the smaller DVD players physically that I have reviewed. Given that most other DVD players that I have reviewed of full depth have been mostly empty space inside, this is not an issue. Internally, the SD-1300 is merely more space-efficient than other DVD players. Interestingly, this DVD player uses a Zoran Vaddis IV MPEG decoder chip, instead of the Vaddis III decoder used by previous Toshiba models that I have reviewed.

Front Panel

    The Toshiba SD-1300 has a spartan front panel with basic functionality.

    The left side of the front panel carries the soft power on-off switch. Pressing this button takes the player in and out of stand-by mode. Stand-by mode can also be entered via the remote control.

    The center of the front panel carries a smoothly-operating and generally quiet disc tray mechanism and a blue fluorescent display which is dimmable in two steps. The fluorescent display has only 6 characters, which is annoyingly short - the player proudly proclaims that it is "OPENIN" or "CLOSIN" the disc tray before the display scrolls to show the "G".

    The right side of the front panel carries basic DVD navigation buttons which have a reasonable feel about them. Pressing either the Disc Eject or Play buttons whilst the player is in stand-by mode will activate the player and perform the appropriate function.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel of this player is equipped with a reasonable selection of outputs. From left to right, we have;

    The output connectors are very cramped in their layout, so considerable care will be required when initially hooking this DVD player up to ensure no connection errors are made.

Remote Control

    I have never been a great fan of the remote control included with Toshiba's previously-released budget DVD players. I was, therefore, quite pleased to see a newly-styled remote control when I unpacked the Toshiba SD-1300. Unfortunately, this remote control is even worse than the one it replaces.

    The one good thing about this remote control is that the arrow and enter keys are nicely placed, ergonomically shaped and easy to use. It's all downhill from there, though. At first glance, the basic DVD navigation buttons (PLAY, STOP and the like) appear to be well-placed above the arrow key mechanism. Unfortunately, they are placed so high on the remote control that you cannot reach them without stretching your thumb unnaturally and unbalancing the remote control. The same applies to the AUDIO, SUBTITLE and ANGLE buttons - they look well-placed but aren't in actual operation.

    The operating range and angle of operation of this remote control were only average, but quite acceptable.


    The manual for the Toshiba SD-1300 is well laid out, easy to read and nicely detailed. Advanced topics are appropriately left for the back of the manual. The only complaint I have is that no mention whatsoever is made of MP3 playback in the manual.

Set-Up Menu

    The set-up menu for the Toshiba SD-1300 is colourful, logical presented and easy-to-use. Only fairly basic options are provided, with the only real limitation being the fact that you cannot separately specify Dolby Digital and MPEG Audio downconversion to Linear PCM - it's either both or none.

Video Playback

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

    The Toshiba DVD players that I have reviewed in the past have all had a characteristic "look" about them. Interestingly, this does not hold for the Toshiba SD-1300, which produces quite a significantly different looking image to its predecessors.

    The Toshiba SD-1300 produces a smooth, detailed film-like image. It is not quite as sharp image-wise as other Toshiba models that I have reviewed, but neither does it have any harshness about its image. An interesting characteristic of the video output of this player is that it is very revealing of grain in source material. Feed this player a grainy DVD, and you will get a really grainy image. Feed this player an immaculate DVD, and you will get a smooth, immaculate image. The SD-1300 is very unforgiving of poor quality source material. More so than any other player that I have seen, this player supports the truism "rubbish in, rubbish out".

    The review player was marked as a Zone 4 player, and only played back appropriately zoned DVDs.

    Fast forward at x2 speed is very smooth, suggesting a double speed DVD transport. Other fast forward speeds and fast reverse speeds are of average smoothness.

    RSDL layer changes resulted in a pause of the order of 1/2 second.

On Screen Display

    The on-screen display is text-based with a bar provided across the top of the screen and an additional information bar across the bottom of the screen. The usual information expected from such displays is provided, with the addition of a bit-rate meter.

    One specific feature of the on-screen display that I liked was drop-down lists for things such as audio tracks and subtitle tracks. This made their selection relatively easy, although available choices were only presented seven at a time. Another specific feature of the on-screen display that I liked was the help text bar at the bottom of the screen, which often provided additional useful context-specific information.

    One specific feature of the on-screen display that I disliked was the intrusiveness of the informational icons when you perform functions such as skipping chapters, which were displayed for longer than I would have liked them to be. Fortunately, the on-screen display in these instances is able to be disabled via the set-up menu.

    The DVD player displays two or three letter abbreviations for languages, which is fine for common languages such as "ENG" but not for less common languages like "IW" (Hebrew)..

Standards Conversions

    The Toshiba SD-1300 is not capable of any standards conversion for DVD, however, it can convert NTSC Video CDs to PAL. The manual is a tad misleading in this regard as it implies that NTSC DVDs can be converted to PAL, but they most definitely cannot.

CDR & Video CD

    The Toshiba SD-1300  can play back CD-R media and Video CDs.

Audio Playback

    I only used this DVD player with its coaxial digital output and had no specific problems.

    Subjectively, there were no audio sync problems noted with this player. Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay in this player was 10 milliseconds, consistent with the observed lack of audio sync problems.

    DTS digital output is supported by this DVD player. MPEG audio bitstreams are output as either Linear PCM or native MPEG depending upon the setup of the player. 96kHz 24 bit Linear PCM is downconverted to 48kHz 16 bit Linear PCM for digital output.

MP3 Discs

    It was with great interest that I turned my attention to the Toshiba SD-1300's MP3 capabilities. I was interested to see if a major DVD manufacturer was able to get right what the no-namers cannot. Almost. The Toshiba SD-1300 has only two minor flaws when playing back MP3 files, neither of which are of any great consequence.

    Audio-wise, there were no anomalies with MP3 playback. I did notice, however, that the DVD transport would read data from MP3 CDs regularly, causing a cyclic and audible drive noise 2 - 3 times per second. It is not a loud noise, but its regularity makes it quite noticeable, particularly at lower listening levels. I would recommend housing this DVD player in a hi-fi cabinet behind glass doors for this sole reason - note that this slight transport noise is not present when playing back DVDs.

    As with other on-screen display functions, up to 7 MP3 files are listed on-screen at any one time, making track selection just a little easier, although only the first 8 characters of an MP3 file's name are displayed.

    The only significant bug with MP3 playback occurs with MP3 CDs with files in the root directory, which are found twice by the player. The discs still play back in the correct sequence, but once the end of the first copy of the play list is reached, play will recommence with the first MP3 file.

    Most pleasingly, the RANDOM play function on this DVD player works for MP3 playback, a functionality frequently left out of other DVD players with MP3 playback capability.
Test Disc Format (all Princo CDRs) Results
108 MP3s in 7 subdirectories Found all files.
108 MP3s in root directory Found all files - twice!
128Kb/s, 256Kb/s, 320Kb/s and Variable Bit Rate
Multisession CDR (4 sessions, each with one added MP3) Only found the first session.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    No DVDs that I tried on the Toshiba SD-1300 had any specific playback problems, and no problem discs have been reported to me as yet.
Specific Tests
What Is Tested
The Matrix R4
Follow The White Rabbit
Tests active subtitle feature, seamless branching, ability to load hybrid DVD/DVD-ROM and audio sync.
Pulp Fiction R4
Audio Sync
Opening scene tests audio sync.
Terminator: SE R4
Menu Load
Tests ability to load complex menu
Independence Day R4 Seamless Branching
Tests ability to handle seamless branching (Chapter 3)
The Patriot R1
Tests ability to handle RCE protected DVDs in Auto multizone mode (if applicable).

User Convenience Features

Screen Saver


The Good Points
    Good looking image.

    Plays CD-Rs.

    Plays MP3s.

    Excellently priced.

The Bad Points
    Difficult to use remote control.

    Slightly noisy disc transport when playing MP3 files.

Features At A Glance

Video Component Output RGB Output
Audio DTS Output MP3 Playback
Plays CDRs
Conversion None
Inbuilt Decoder None

In Closing

    The Toshiba SD-1300 is a solid DVD player. At its price point of $499, you will not be let down by any aspect of this DVD player's performance, and the added CD-R and MP3 functionality means that this player squarely competes with the no-name brand DVD players at their own game, leaving little reason to look elsewhere for a player with the SD-1300's combination of price and features.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality
In Operation
Value For Money

Technical Specifications (Manufacturer Supplied)

Product Type: DVD-Video, Video CD, Audio CD and MP3 player
Region: Zone 4 (Australia/New Zealand & South America)
Signal System: PAL / NTSC
Serial Number Of Unit Tested: 14PL202752
MPEG Decoder: Zoran Vaddis IV LC
Audio Frequency Response: 4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
Signal to Noise Ratio: >112dB
Dynamic Range: >108dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.002%
Dimensions: 430 (w) x 225 (d) x 81 (h)
Weight: 2.4kg
Price: $499
Distributor: Castel Electronics Pty Ltd
103-119 Gipps Street
Collingwood  VIC  3066
Telephone: (03) 9416-3688
Facsimile: (03) 9416-3730

© Michael Demtschyna
17th August 2001