Toshiba SD-2109Y DVD Player

    One of the things that I have found out whilst reviewing DVD players is that most of them have one major deficiency. They may have many nifty gee-whiz features, and they may play this type of disc and that type of disc, but many of them simply don't do that good a job of their core function - they don't play DVDs all that well.

    The entry-level no-frills Toshiba SD-2109Y plays DVDs brilliantly.

What's In The Box

    The Toshiba SD-2109Y comes with all of the necessary connectors and accessories to get you up and running in no time. You get;     The player comes in jet black, and is very stylish-looking indeed, always an excellent start for any DVD player.

Front Panel

    The left side of the front panel carries a hard-wired power on-off switch along with a stand-by LED indicator. Turn on the DVD player and you are greeted by a friendly "Welcome to Toshiba DVD" message. You cannot put the DVD player into stand-by mode from the front panel, but must do this via the remote control. This is a minor operational irritation.

    The center of the front panel carries the disc tray and the attractive blue fluorescent display. This display can be dimmed in two stages via the remote control, but the player will not remember this setting after being powered down, another minor operational irritation of this player.

    The right side of the front panel has the tray open/close button, and some basic DVD navigation buttons; chapter skip forwards and backwards, play, pause and stop. The placement of both the tray open/close button and the play button is counter-intuitive, and take some getting used to. The play button in particular is placed illogically at the extreme right of the DVD player. The tray open/close button is placed where you would expect the play button to be. One good thing about this DVD player, however, is that pressing the tray open/close button will turn the DVD player on from stand-by mode.

Rear Panel

    The rear panel of this player is equipped with an extremely basic selection of outputs. Everything essential is there, but in the barest minimum necessary quantity. From left to right;

    The video outputs are grouped together and comprise the S-Video output, the composite output and three colour-coded RCA sockets which function as the component video outputs.

    The audio outputs are grouped together with the video outputs and consist of a coaxial digital audio output and left and right analogue audio outputs. There is no optical digital output.

    A 240V AC input finishes off the rear panel.

Remote Control

    This is not the worst remote control I have ever seen, but it is not particularly good, either. The one good feature of the remote control is the layout of the arrow keys and the ENTER key. These are arranged ergonomically, but the remainder of the layout of the remote control is very ordinary indeed.

    The layout of the eight basic navigation buttons, the most commonly used buttons on any DVD remote, leaves a lot to be desired. It is very easy to press FAST FORWARD when you are meaning to press PAUSE and it is very easy to press SKIP FORWARDS when you are meaning to press STOP.

    The MENU, TITLE, CLEAR and RETURN buttons are badly laid out, particularly the MENU key which is not easy to find without actually looking at the remote.

    Another set of keys which are badly placed are the ANGLE, SUBTITLE and AUDIO keys which are buried below several lesser used keys at the top of the remote control. Indeed, the even the use of the awkwardly-placed SUBTITLE button is awkward. Pressing the SUBTITLE button will result in the display cycling through the available subtitle options on the DVD without actually turning them on. When the desired subtitle track is highlighted, an additional key press is needed to actually display the selected subtitles. Pioneer DVD players have a much more logical interpretation of this function, with the subtitle button simultaneously selecting and turning on the relevant subtitles, with the addition of an OFF option into the subtitle listing to allow you to cycle through the available subtitle languages without actually having to turn them on and then off again.

    Finally, the OPEN/CLOSE and ON/STANDBY buttons are illogically placed. Swapping them around would have been a much more user-friendly arrangement in my opinion.

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

    One specific feature that I found annoying about the 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, which is one of the very first things that I actually did with this DVD player.


    The manual is attractively presented, nicely typeset, nicely illustrated, easy to read and informative. One thing I particularly liked is that the details of the setup menu are deferred to the end of the manual rather than cluttering up the start of the manual as is frequently the case. If I were to be really picky, I'd say that the information in the manual becomes a little too densely-packed at times and would have been nicer spread over a few more pages, but that is being really picky.

Set-Up Menu

    The set-up menu is elegant, with an eye-pleasing combination of colours, graphic symbols and text. The menu is intuitive and the great majority of options are located precisely where you would expect them to be located.

Video Playback

    All video playback tests were performed with the player set to 16x9 output mode and using the S-Video output. In a nutshell, this player performed impeccably on DVD video playback, and could not be faulted in any way. High praise indeed for a so-called "budget" and "entry-level" DVD player.

    The video output from this DVD player was, in a word, superb. It was razor sharp and crystal clear. The Toshiba SD-2109Y DVD player produces the best looking image I have yet seen from a DVD player. Most importantly, it does this consistently and without fail on any of many many DVDs that I tried on this player.

    The player is marked as a Zone 4 player, and is marketed as such. The unit that I evaluated had been after-market modified and played all Zone DVD titles automatically.

    The fast forward and fast reverse functions are relatively smooth and work in x2, x8 and x30 speeds both forwards and backwards. These functions lock in immediately when they are selected.

    The reverse chapter skip function will return to the start of the current chapter rather than to the previous chapter. I personally prefer the other implementation of this function, which is for the player to skip to the previous chapter when this button is selected.

    RSDL layer changes were noticeable, with pauses of between 1/4 and 1/2 second.

    Finally, a set of features that I really liked were the screen-saver and auto-off functions. After approximately five minutes in PAUSE mode, an automatic Toshiba screensaver appears. After approximately twenty minutes of inactivity from the DVD player, the player automatically goes into Standby mode.

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.

    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 language 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

    This player is not capable of performing any standards conversion for DVD playback.

CDR & Video CD

    The Toshiba SD-2109Y cannot play CD-R media. It can, however, play Video CDs.

Audio Playback

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

    Subjectively, there were no discernible audio sync problems except with the most marginal of DVDs and even then the audio sync would look just fine unless you were watching with very keen eyes and listening with very keen ears. Realistically, you will never see an audio sync problem with this player that can be directly and definitively blamed on the player. Objectively, the analogue vs digital delay measured on this player was 12 milliseconds, a result consistent with no audio sync problems being discernible.

    DTS output is supported by this DVD player. Linear PCM audio output at 96kHz/24 bit sample depth is not supported by this player.

    MPEG audio bitstreams are output in their native MPEG digital format unless the player is set to output PCM audio in which case all digital audio output from this player will be output in PCM.

Disc Compatibility Tests

    I viewed a myriad of DVDs on this DVD player. No DVD that I viewed on this player exhibited any form of problem whatsoever. In the DVD world, this is a remarkable achievement, and one that only very few players are capable of.

    Having said that, there are two well known Region 4 DVDs that simply will not play in this or any other Toshiba DVD player due to a mastering fault with these DVDs; The Long Kiss Goodnight and Turbulence. The Long Kiss Goodnight is being remastered to rectify this problem.


The Good Points
    Image Quality: This DVD player has the best image quality that I have seen to date.

    Component video output: Handy for some, but it would have been really nice to have selectable RGB video output.

The Bad Points
    No full names for subtitles.

    Badly laid out remote control.

    Odd placement for the Play button on the unit itself.

    Inability to permanently dim the display.

Features At A Glance

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

In Closing

    $699 for a DVD player that flawlessly and brilliantly plays DVDs? Throw in 4 free Warner Home Video DVDs and you have the bargain of the century, even with the minor operational irritations that this player exhibits, and even with the less-than-brilliant remote control. The ability to play back CD-Rs and output RGB video would have been truly icing on the cake for this DVD player, but I guess no player can ever be perfect.

    The Toshiba SD-2109Y does one thing impeccably that most other DVD players I have reviewed cannot. It plays DVDs, and it plays them better than any other DVD player that I have tested to date. It has become the reference DVD player in my system against which all others are judged. Enough said. Go buy it. You won't be disappointed.

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
Audio Frequency Response: 4Hz - 22kHz (48kHz sampling) 
4Hz - 44kHz (96kHz sampling)
Signal to Noise Ratio: >112dB
Dynamic Range: >96dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
Dimensions: 430 (w) x 305 (d) x 81 (h)
Weight: 3.0 kg
Price: $699
Distributor: Castel Electronics Pty Ltd
103-119 Gipps Street
Collingwood  VIC  3066
Telephone: (03) 9416-3688
Facsimile: (03) 9416-3730

© Michael Demtschyna
13th March 2000