DVD Benchmark - Product Review - Toshiba SD-5109 DVD Player - November, 2000




When we think of DVD players, Toshiba is one of the first names that come to mind.  They have been at the forefront of DVD technology and the first in many areas.  They had the first DVD player with component outputs, the first TV with component inputs, and now, the SD-5109 was the first progressive DVD player from Toshiba or any manufacturer. See our original review on this player back in February (Click here).

Anyway, here are our test results:


The video quality of this DVD player is OK to good.  It's not as good as the SD-9100 in terms of video noise, and it is not as good as the SD-6200 in terms of noise or de-interlacing.

This player improperly labels the CAV outputs as Y'Cb'Cr', and it uses the inferior RCA connectors.

Black and White Levels

Format Black White Comments
CAV 7.6 106.6 The black level is just about perfect.  White on the other hand is VERY hot.  Some video processors will clip everything above 100 IRE.
YC 7.8 106.8 The YC levels closely match the CAV levels.

Color Bars


The Y portion of the CAV signal is way beyond anything else.  It's very high except for black.

The Pb portion of the signal is lower than SMPTE and EIA 770.1 except for red, where it matches.  Like the Pb signal, the Pr portion is just below SMPTE and EIA 770.1 levels.

Component Analog Video Data



The Y portion of YC is very hot just like the CAV Y.

The chroma level coming out of the YC signal is pretty high.  You will need to back off on the color control if your TV properly decodes SMPTE 170M.  Chroma phase on the YC signal is perfect.

Composite/YC Data


Video Frequency Response

The YC output is slightly sharper than the CAV output.  The YC actually peaks at 4.18 MHz.  The CAV does not peak until just before 5 MHz.  

We had to use the Tektronix 1735 HD to look at the progressive output.  As you can see by the red line in the graph below that its response is very different from the interlaced.  Instead of peaking at 5 MHz, it actually rolls-off.  There is less ringing in the progressive output, but it is still pretty high.

There is excessive ringing in the image. If you look at the Avia sharpness pattern with this player, you will see it. The picture may appear sharp, but what you are seeing is not real information.

Video Frequency Response




Pixel Cropping

Location Pixels Comments
Top 0 Excellent
Bottom 0 Excellent
Left 5 Very Good
Right 0 Excellent

Signal-To-Noise Ratio

Format Output SNR (dB) Comments
CAV Y -55.1 Poor - The SD-5109 SNR is not as good as the SD-9100 or SD-6200.
CAV Pb -65.6 OK
CAV Pr -65.6 OK
YC C-AM -66.6 Very Good
YC C-PM -65.1 Very Good

Component Channel Timing

We used the 1735HD to get a look at the progressive output timing.  We were shocked to discover that the progressive outputs had a delay problem that the interlaced outputs did not.  We have included a shot of both the interlaced outputs and the progressive outputs (photos below) so you can see how they differ.

Ignore how fat or tall the line is in the middle.  This is the amplitude of Y to 'Pb' and 'Pr' (the level difference is not important here).  What you want to look at is where it lines up in the center.  The interlaced looks like a nice bow tie, while the progressive looks like half of a bowtie.  The good news is that both channels are delayed in the same direction.  The Pioneer DVD players we looked at had the color channels delayed on the opposite direction.

Component Channel Timing





Channel Timing (ns) Comments
'Pb' to Y -5.1 Good
'Pr' to Y -5.1 Good
'Pb' to 'Pr' 0 Stellar


Audio Frequency Response

Frequency response was only fair.  Like the other Toshiba players, it had a slightly elevated bass response, and a not so even treble.  While the treble was not at all as jagged as the less expensive 2109, it still wasn't a smooth taper, and it looks like the digital side of the reconstruction filter applies some sort of brick wall filter, eliminating output at 20 kHz.  I don't believe most adults will miss that final portion of the spectrum, but it'd be nice to have it nevertheless.

Audio Frequency Response


Harmonic Distortion + Noise FFT

The harmonic distortion spectrum was similar to the 2109 in both amplitude and shape, with the majority of the energy distributed as lower order distortion, with a 16 kHz higher order stigma to the performance, but still below –110 dB, so not really anything to get upset about. It looks reasonable, but not outstanding.

Distortion Spectrum


Wide-Band noise spectrum FFT (Wall AC)

Noise spectrum of the analog stages was also similar to the 2109, except the high-frequency peak sat just below 20 kHz.

Noise Floor (Wall)


Wide-Band noise spectrum FFT (Lab grade AC)

Like the little 2109, the low frequency noise content with cleaner, regenerated AC, was attenuated.  However, the lab AC did not substantially attenuate the peak in the floor just below 20 kHz. Then again, it's still –122 dB down.

Noise Floor (Lab)


Low-Level DAC Linearity

Low-level DAC linearity was superb on the SD-5109.  The curve remained flat and within  ± 1 dB down to –108 dB.  As Strawberry Shortcake would say, “Berry nice.”

DAC Linearity


Dynamic Range

In the Melee, I forgot to take the test.  Ooops.  Guess JJ's gonna spank me.

Inter-Modulation Distortion

Same situation.  No data.  If we were to guess, we would say, about –114 dB.


While the de-interlacing on the SD-5109 is not as clean as the Panasonic DVD-H1000 and Toshiba SD-6200, its not as bad as it sounds below.  You still get a very enjoyable experience; there is just lots of room for improvement.

The SD-5109 is not using the same de-interlacing technology as Panasonic.  Toshiba is calling it a frame doubler, probably marketing- speak.  We are not sure what de-interlacing solution they are using because all of the chips inside the player are labeled as Toshiba.


Test Comments
Basic It dropped down into Bob mode two times.
Alternate OK


Bad Overflow Problems; Left hand wedge tip is swimming in Scintillation and "dot crawl" moiré pattern, from the 350 line point.  Looks like over deviated videotape.  Right hand wedge has "long" drop out at center of wedge.


Bad Overflow Problems.  Left hand wedge tip is corrupted with scintillation and "dot crawl" moiré pattern, from the 475-line point.  The defective area is smaller and moves around less then the video port video sample.  Right hand wedge has "long" drop out at center of wedge.  Also, tip has additional intermittent short scintillations.


Test Comments
Basic X Overall frequent dropping into Bob mode.  Right hand wedge has intermittent short scintillations.  As in the video port speed tests, left hand wedge tip is corrupted with scintillation and "dot crawl" moiré pattern, from the 475-line point.  Periodically shows feathering and shredding.
Alt Y Same as X.
Alt 1 Larger displacements in the jerks than above.  Right hand wedge has no scintillation.
Alt 2 Similar to X and Y, scintillation in the right wedge, etc.

Mixed Mode

Test Comments
Basic Y It takes several frames to detect that it should be in weave mode.  When video, the left hand wedge has lots of contamination (similar to video port video above), while in video, right wedge has a few short and long scintillations.  On switch between modes has jerky displacement for just and instant.
Alt X Same as Y.
Alt 2 Less scintillation and more displacement in the right hand wedge during video.
Alt 1 Slightly nicer than Alt 1.

Chapter Breaks

Test Comments
Alt 1 Sometimes works properly (with scintillation on video) but sometimes has one or two extra drops to Bob mode.
Alt 2 Brief drops to Bob mode at 3PM, 6PM, 9PM points.


Note: A green check in the boxes below means that feature worked OK. A red X means it is unsatisfactory.


Test Results Comments

The menu highlights disappear on Avia when you navigate in several layers deep.  You can get them back by turning on the player's subtitles.
Slide Show

This player cannot pause on slide show material.  You get a no icon.

Video Essentials

Test Results Comments

Stress Test



Subpicture Palette (DCS)

Test Results Comments




Default Palette Color Index

Test Results Comments




Custom Palette Color Index

Test Results Comments





Test Results Comments
Seamless Branching

This player is slower than normal and takes 3 sweeps to branch.
Multiple Angles

This player takes about 1 - 1.25 second to change angles.


Test Results Comments



Field/Frame Freeze

Test Results Comments



16x9 Menu

Test Results Comments




Test Results Comments



Layer Break

This player is fairly quick and takes about 1 - 1.25 seconds to change layers.

Test (DVD) Results Comments
"Cruel Intentions"


"Friend" VCD  
"Saving Private Ryan" (DTS)  
"The Abyss"  
Chesky Super Audio 96/24 This player down converts the 96 kHz audio to 48 kHz for digital bitstream output.

Physical Response

This player is a bit slow but there are slower players out there.  We gave it a 5 in overall response time.

Test Results Comments

This is user selectable.  We were able to find it on this DVD player but not the SD-9100 or SD-6200.


Error Correction/Concealment

Pierre Vareny

The audio error correction on CD is near the bottom end of player performance.  It is able to handle up to and including chapter 29, which represents a 0.50mm gap.

Scratch the Dog

Toshiba is very good about dealing with errors in that it just keeps on going.  The picture is pixilated at Chapter 2 and the player eventually stops around chapter 18.


Overall the remote is OK, although we doubt the utility of jog/shuttles for the majority of users (read that as 99.9% of users).  Read below for a short rant on jog/shuttles.

The Remote Score = 5 out of 11.  The images give you an indication how the Toshiba designers have considered the usability of the remote.

We established our rating scheme in the usability article with the Eleven Tenets of Remote Design. Each one of those principles gets the player 1 point, so the maximum possible score would be 11.  See the comments for each of those design tenets.

Test Results Comments
Button Access

Spacing here is excellent, and most controls can be reached easily without inadvertently pressing other buttons.  However, since the remote is slightly larger than can be comfortably held in one hand, you will have to readjust your hand to reach all the buttons.
Minimal number of buttons

The remote has a sliding panel to conceal less frequently used buttons.  This remote allows you to control your DVD and TV and serves most functions well.  The only issue is using this remote to control your television where the number pad becomes more important.  One issue with this style of remote is the buttons under the sliding panel are inconvenient if you actually need to use them more frequently when, for example, using this remote to control the TV.  This is a general design issue with all of the remotes that make use of the sliding panel.

They conserve some space by having the arrow keys serve double duty as channel up/down and volume up/down buttons.  However, it isn't readily apparent how you switch between the two control modes.  They also combined the chapter next/previous and FF/FR buttons into one.  We found this a little difficult to use.
Distinctive buttons Most of the buttons can be distinguished by feel.  There are a number of different sizes and shapes that make it easy to use this remote with the lights off.  This is good, but not as good as remotes that have backlighting and good design.
Appropriately sized buttons The buttons are not prioritized by their size.  The more important and more frequently used buttons should be larger on remotes.

Good tactile feedback

We found the buttons to be a bit mushy and low profile.

Fits well in a single hand

The remote is actually just a bit large for the average hand, which makes it a bit difficult to reach all the buttons without readjusting your hand.
Right/Left Handed Because the remote is just slightly large, it is difficult to reach the play button when using the remote with your left hand. 
Backlighting No backlighting.  This is a strange because some of their other remotes with the same form factor have backlighting.  It should be included on all their remotes (they would save money by reducing the number of parts they have to manufacture).

Indication of control mode

The remote does not have a persistent cue that you are in TV or DVD mode.

Standard naming

The only strangely named button is the Last Play button.  What does this button do, and why is this the only remote that has it? 

Player feedback

The DVD player will beep when it receives an IR command.  This is user selectable.

The Bottom Line on Usability

The Toshiba remote is just a bit too large to be a great interface to the Toshiba player.  It just doesn't make sense to have a remote that requires two hands when others have designed very good remotes that fit easily in your hand.

- Staff -

DVD Benchmark Explanatory Articles


Part 1 - Video

Part 2 - Audio

Part 3 - Functionality Part 4 - Usability Part 5 - Progressive Scan


© Copyright 2000 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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