The first thing we want to say about the EP35 is that we're starting to become annoyed by the start-up time on these HD DVD players. We could forgive this sort of thing with the low-end HD-E1 or the first- and second-generation players, but now we really think they should be working to reduce the amount of time it takes to insert a disc. Indeed, we'd question why it takes more than 30 seconds to get the disc tray open anyway -- the load time we get, but just ejecting the tray, it makes no sense at all.
Setting up the EP35 is nice and easy, it takes no time at all. As long as you're familiar with terms such as 1080p/24, you shouldn't struggle to pick the settings that work best for you. One word of warning: the Internet setup can be tricky. If you want to access Web-enabled features, you'll need to get this working. If you're having trouble, remember to set the machine to get its IP address via DHCP and make sure it's got DNS enabled too.
The good news is there's nothing wrong with the performance of this player. The picture quality is nothing short of amazing. 1080p movies really look stunning and the colour, detail and sharpness of the picture are excellent.
Sound is similarly impressive too, offering a nice rich feel, although we thought the line-out levels were a little quiet, meaning we had to crank our stereo amp up to full to get much sound out. Not a massive issue, but likely to annoy people with low-powered amps or large TV rooms.
It's worth pointing out that at the time of publication, you get two free HD DVDs in the box and you can send a form to Toshiba, which will dispatch a further five discs to you in the post. The selection is decent, and this is a pretty good introduction to HD DVD. There are similar offers with some Blu-ray players, so it's worth having a scout around.
Overall we like the EP35 -- the picture and sound are both solid, and it's easy to use. We'd like to see some more advanced features appear on these players, such as support for DivX and Xvid, but that's a gripe for another day.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide