Dismissing that whole Blockbuster Blu-ray decision as nothing more than a PR victory, and in no way an exclusive deal by the video-rental company, execs from Toshiba and Microsoft came to NYC to show off the latest in HD DVD amenities. The latest firmware, the one that finally allows for Web-enabled network capabilities, is here, and to mark the occasion, Toshiba has officially lowered the prices of two of its players: the HD-A2 with 1080i output will drop to $299, and the HD-A20 with 1080p output will be $399. (There had previously been an instant rebate keeping the prices low.)
Kevin Collins of Microsoft is the chief evangelist of HD DVD, and he talks about three things that, in combination, he says, make HD DVD better than Blu-ray.
• Internet connection for online updates, and now, finally, Web-enabled content
• Dual decoding for real picture-in-picture playback
• "Persistent storage" memory on the deck for customization and downloading
The sad thing for you is that Collins demonstrated these traits using the HD DVD of 300, coming out in July. However, I wasn't allowed to take photos of that, because Warner would be angry, but just take my word for it, it looked very cool. In one scene, when the Spartans are pushing the Persians off the cliff, you can pull up a green-screen "behind the scenes" version and compare it in realtime. The bronze helmets look plastic; the boiling sea below is nothing but green cushions! Collins says that the Warner Blu-ray version of 300 would have the behind-the-scenes footage, but no physical way to watch both the scene and the footage simultaneously.
The disc will also have a Risk-style XML game that lets you lead soldiers against enemy armies. It looked pretty involved, so it might actually be entertaining.
To demo Web content, Collins pulled up the anime flick Freedom, from Bandai. He pulled down French subtitles where none existed before. He downloaded trailers (compressed for the Web.) Check out the gallery for all that, plus some translucent PIP effects—hell, just because that movie just looks so amazingly good.
The third HD DVD title Collins showed off was Blood Diamond. In the menu, you could pull up pages, via the Web, discussing various parts of Africa and providing up-to-date information on diamond-trafficking, civil wars and other issues that the movie touches on.
Toshiba's Jody Sally said the company had set September 4 as the day it will ship firmware allowing for 24P compatibility; that is, playback of movies at 24-frames-per-second where available, and pending 24P compatibility in your TV.
Speaking of TVs, Toshiba had its latest Regza LCD models on hand, most originally introduced at CES. There were two never before seen 52 inchers (from $3,500 to $4,000 depending on feature set) and a 57 incher (price not yet determined, shipping next month). The company was proud to announce that it is now Number 3 in market share in the 32-inch to 42-inch LCD category. You are forgiven if you didn't know there was such a category, but nevertheless, it marks a 90% sales spike for Toshiba, and its execs are beaming.
HD DVD DELIVERS ADVANCED CONTENT AND INTERACTIVITY BY OFFERING EXCLUSIVE WEB-ENABLED CAPABILITIES
Momentum for HD DVD continues to grow as player sales reach new heights and Toshiba captures 70 percent share of high definition set-top player market
WAYNE, NJ - JUNE 28, 2007 - Today at its summer press event, Toshiba America Consumer Products, L.L.C. ("Toshiba") announced that HD DVD is bringing a whole new world of high definition entertainment to the hands of consumers. Delivering on the promise to provide advanced content and interactivity, new HD DVD titles with web-enabled network capabilities now allow consumers to easily access additional content and bonus features, as available, to enjoy their favorite HD DVD movies like never before. Current users of Toshiba HD DVD players can enjoy the web-enabled network capabilities by updating to the latest HD DVD player firmware, now available from Toshiba.
Since the launch of HD DVD, all of Toshiba's players have offered advanced interactive functionality including picture-in-picture video and audio commentary, which have already been available on many HD DVD movies. Now Toshiba takes interactivity to the next level. The company's latest firmware update supports improved network connectivity for downloading web-enabled network content and is another example of the company's commitment toward achieving the ultimate home entertainment experience. No other high definition home entertainment format currently matches the features offered by Toshiba and the HD DVD format. "Through web-enabled network connectivity, HD DVD is unlocking the door to an entirely new world of entertainment and once again achieving another milestone in next generation DVD," said Jodi Sally, Vice President of Marketing, Toshiba's Digital A/V Group. "With HD DVD, studios have the ability to develop new and unique content for movie fans, enabling consumers to have an entirely new way to access entertainment and customize their home movie experience that is currently not available with any other format."
Toshiba HD DVD Players' Web-Enabled Network Capabilities
Using the Ethernet ports found on all Toshiba HD DVD players, and the currently available firmware update, once connected to the network, users can download bonus features, as available, from a movie studio's server. This data is then saved in the player's persistent storage and can be accessed by the user. In addition to downloading new bonus features, some HD DVD discs may even include locked prerecorded content which can be unlocked with a downloadable key from the studio's online server.
In addition to downloading content, HD DVD users also have the ability to upload content and interact with content providers. For example, with the award winning title, "Blood Diamond" from Warner Home Video, users can participate in interactive polls. After providing feedback, results are delivered back to users via the HD DVD player.
Web-enabled network content became available on June 26 with the launch of Bandai Visual's anime title "Freedom" volume 1. This title is the first HD DVD anime title available in the United States, the first web-enabled network content disc and the first "twin format" disc (featuring both HD DVD and DVD on one side of the disc).
"While others may talk about interactivity, HD DVD has proven time and time again that it offers true interactive features and capabilities for consumers which can make the enjoyment of movies a new experience every time they're viewed," commented Sally.
Toshiba Announces 24p Output
Coming in early September, Toshiba will add an enhanced performance function to its HD-XA2 and HD-A20 HD DVD players by offering the capability for users to update the firmware of their players allowing playback of film content in 1080p/24 frames per second, or 24p. Movie films are traditionally captured at 24 frames per second and Toshiba's HD DVD players will be able to maintain this frame rate allowing consumers to enjoy movies in their native form.
Mandatory to the HD DVD format, every Toshiba player is equipped with an Ethernet port. In addition to the capability to access web enabled content, this also allows HD DVD owners to conveniently update the firmware of their players with new features and performance improvements.
Movie Aficionados Adopt HD DVD as the Next High Definition Format of Choice - The Numbers Speak for Themselves
Responding to recent promotions as well as the industry growth of HDTV, the market adoption of HD DVD increased significantly in the past 2 months garnering Toshiba with approximately 70 percent share of all high definition set-top players, both HD DVD and Blu-ray, in both April and May according to NPD. "These numbers prove once again that HD DVD is the high definition format of choice," commented Sally.
Effective July 1st the pricing levels available during the May and June promotions will become standard MSRPs, making the HD-A2 available for an every day price of $299.99 and the HD-A20 for $399.99. The top of the line HD-XA2 continues at $799.99 (MSRP).
HD DVD with high-definition content required for HD viewing. DVD with standard definition content will upconvert to near HD quality. Viewing high-definition content and up-converting DVD content may require an HDCP capable DVI or HDMI input on your display device. Firmware update may be required for some interactive features depending on content, which may also require an always-on broadband internet connection. Some features may require additional bandwidth. To take advantage of the web-enabled network content, downloading and installing the latest firmware update (ver.2.2 for HD DVD player models HD-XA1, HD-A1, and HD-D1; and ver.2.0 for HD DVD player models HD-XA2, HD-A2, HD-A2W, HD-D2, HD-A2C, and HD-A20) is required. Web-enabled features will require an always on broadband connection along with specific movie titles that include this form of content. MP3/WMA audio files not supported. Some current DVDs and CDs may not be compatible. Some Combo Discs and Twin Format Discs may not be compatible. HDMI audio support for PCM only. For 24p output, content that was created in 1080p/24 frames/sec is required. Viewing 24p output requires an HD display capable of accepting a 1080p/24Hz signal. Because HD DVD is a new format that makes use of new technologies, certain disc, digital connection and other compatibility and/or performance issues are possible. This may, in rare cases, include disc freezing while accessing certain disc features or functions, or certain parts of the disc not playing back or operating as fully intended. If you experience such issues, please refer to the FAQ sections of www.toshibahddvd.com or www.tacp.toshiba.com for information on possible work-around solutions or the availability of firmware updates that may resolve your problem, or contact Toshiba Customer Solutions. Some features subject to delayed availability. While Toshiba has made every effort at the time of publication to ensure the accuracy of the information provided herein, product specifications, configurations, system/component/options availability are all subject to change without notice. For additional information on Toshiba HD DVD players, please visit http://www.tacp.toshiba.com/hddvd/
FOLLOWING STRONG SPRING SALES, TOSHIBA ANNOUNCES AVAILABILITY OF ITS LARGEST EVER REGZA® HD LCD TV MODELS
Toshiba increases market share by 90 percent in 32-42 inch LCD screen sizes and looks to continue this strong growth with new larger model introductions
WAYNE, NJ - JUNE 28, 2007 - Today at its summer press event in New York City, Toshiba America Consumer Products, L.L.C. ("Toshiba") announced the availability of its 46", 47" and 52" REGZA LCD TVs as well as the upcoming availability of its largest ever LCD TV, a 57" Cinema Series® model. The availability of these larger TVs comes at an outstanding time for the company, as according to The NPD Group's retail tracking service TV data, which includes combos, Toshiba has nearly doubled its market share in the 32" to 42" LCD category in April and May 2007.
"The feedback on our new REGZA LCD line-up has been exceptional, and our market performance has been astounding," said Scott Ramirez, Vice President of Marketing. "We listened to the voice of our customers, made quality products that are market right, and virtually doubled our 32" to 42" LCD market share. We now start shipping our larger 46" to 57" models, including our Cinema Series models with the advanced ClearFrame 120 Hz Anti-Blur System, and are confident that we will continue the same level of success. Consumers are responding to the quality and design of REGZA, but more importantly, they are proving that Toshiba is a market leader in flat panel TV."
NPD's data for April and May shows that Toshiba's LCD market share in the key 32" to 42" screen size range has grown by 90 percent to 10.8 percent market share, making Toshiba #3 for 32" to 42" LCDs, including combos. In fact, Toshiba's 40" to 42" LCD market share has grown to 12.7 percent, and the company's 37" LCD market share has grown to 13.2 percent.
With the new model additions, Toshiba REGZA models will now be available in a wide range of screen sizes including 26", 32", 37", 42", 46/7", 52" and 57" (diagonally measured). REGZA televisions also come in a variety of series including: the HL67 HD series, LV67 LCDVD® series, HL167 1080p Full HD series and LX177 Cinema Series. As a result of this fully comprehensive line, there is a REGZA television to fit the need of virtually every consumer, every room and every application, helping to ensure the continued market share growth of the REGZA line.
The success of the 2007 REGZA line can be attributed to dramatic improvements in picture quality, connectivity and cosmetic design. All REGZA models incorporate key Toshiba technology including PixelPure3G™ 14 bit internal digital video processing for accurate 12 bit output and DynaLight™ dynamic backlight, and feature beautiful high-gloss black cabinetry (differentiated by series) with Toshiba's SoundStrip™ speaker system. The 1080p Full HD REGZA series adds additional features such as ColorBurst™ wide color gamut CCFL, and CE-Link HDMI CEC control. At the top of the line are the Cinema Series REGZA models, which incorporate cutting-edge technology such as the ClearFrame™ 120 Hz anti-blur system and Deep Color.
A standard LCD TV typically has a frame rate of 60 frames per second, or 60Hz. To avoid possible motion blur with fast motion video, ClearFrame doubles that frame rate to 120 frames per second, or 120 Hz. While there are many possible methods for creating the additional 60 frames, ClearFrame utilizes superior Motion Vector Frame Interpolation (MVFI) technology. MVFI analyzes Frame A and Frame B and creates a new Frame A+B. By evaluating the speed and direction of multiple picture elements within the frames, this advanced system virtually eliminates motion blur without decreasing image brightness or adding flicker.
PixelPure3G, Toshiba's 3rd Generation digital video processor, runs at a fast 333 MHz, with high 14 bit internal digital video processing for accurate 12 bit output. This system is capable of producing an amazing 4,096 levels of gradation (16 times greater than a standard 8 bit processor) for a smooth natural picture without image banding. PixelPure continuously monitors the incoming video signal, adjusting multiple picture quality parameters including real speed progressive scanning, dynamic gamma, dynamic MPEG noise reduction and now, dynamic back-light control. Superior processing creates a superior picture, and PixelPure 3G creates incredibly deep, vibrant, sharp and natural images.
DynaLight utilizes advanced PixelPure histogram image processing to monitor the brightness level of each video frame and automatically adjusts the backlight intensity based on the image content. Precise signal analysis allows for 256 levels of backlight control, creating seamless transitions and a Dynamic Contrast that is up to 5X that of the original panel contrast. The result is a considerably deeper black level for increased detail and depth.
ColorBurst significantly increases the LCD color space to reproduce 90+ percent of the NTSC Color Gamut. By utilizing proprietary image processing and color control algorithms, ColorBurst expands the number of available colors and improves the color accuracy. This significantly improves both color purity and color saturation.
CE-Link (HDMI CEC) allows two-way control between the TV and applicable source devices through an HDMI cable. The TV remote can be used to control the source device, or the source device's remote can be used to control the TV, allowing for simplified system operation, even when the source devices are not in sight. Unlike some manufacturers, Toshiba incorporates CE-Link into all three HDMI digital inputs, allowing customers to create an "in-room network" with CEC enabled devices such as a PC, DVD Player and A/V Receiver.
The momentum Toshiba has experienced around REGZA directly relates to the industry-leading technology, beautiful design and outstanding viewing experience the line provides. With the introduction of larger REGZA models packed with even more technology features, Toshiba expects to continue its strong growth and solidify its position as a leader in flat panel TV. For individuals interested in learning more about Toshiba REGZA televisions, please visit http://www.regzalcdtv.com.
REGZA is The One To Watch!
Expected Pricing and Availability
26HL67 ($799.99, Available Now)
32HL67U ($999.99, Available Now)
37HL67U ($1,199.99, Available Now)
42HL67 ($1,399.99, Available Now)
26LV67U ($899.99, Available Now)
32LV67U ($1,099.99, Available Now)
REGZA 1080p Full HD
42HL167 ($1,799.99, Available Now)
47HL167 ($2,499.99, Available Now)
52HL167 ($3,499.99, June 2007)
Cinema Series REGZA
42LX177 ($2,299.99, June 2007)
46LX177 ($2,999.99, June 2007)
52LX177 ($3,999.99, June 2007)
57LX177 (TBD, July 2007)