CES UPDATE: Toshiba rolls out HD-DVD

Toshiba, the original champion of the HD-DVD format, took the wraps off its first two HD-DVD players at CES: the HD-XA1 and HD-A1. The former will be priced at $799 and include four DSP chips while the latter will only cost $499. Both will be available in March.

We think HD-DVD, represents the best value for our consumers, hardware manufacturers and content creators, says Jodi Sally, Toshiba Digital AV Group VP, marketing. It has the same physical disk structure as current DVDs and that s important for a seamless transition with only minor modification to plants. It also has backwards compatibility and a twin-format disk that can have both an HD and SD version of a movie making it future proof.

Advanced features include support of MPEG-4 AVC and Microsoft s VC-1, as well as MPEG-2. (Broadcom is supplying the video decoder chips). An HDMI output will convert SD DVDs to 720p or 1080i.

The company also unveiled new flat-panel plasma and LCD sets. New plasma models include the 42HP66 (42 inches) and the 50HP66 (50 inches). New 42- and 47-inch LCD sets with 1080p are also available. Pricing is to be determined with the 42-inch sets shipping in April and the 50-inch version in May.

All four use the company s new PixelPure 14-bit digital video processing technology. Scott Ramirez, Toshiba VP marketing, Toshiba TV Group America Consumer Products, says the 14-bit technology offers improvements that are multiples better than that offered by 8-bit processors.

Also on display at the booth was next-generation SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display) technology, delivering 1080p images with contrast ratios of 100,000:1. The new technology works in a similar fashion to a CRT set, shooting electronics at a phosphor-coated screen to emit light. But it uses a separate electron emitter for each pixel instead of a gun that shoots at the whole screen.