HD DVD Players

Because this was a joint press conference with the HD DVD PRG, there was non-Toshiba hardware mentioned. First up was a budget HD DVD player from Venturer - the SHD-7000 is set to retail for under €299, which should help open up the HD DVD format to even the most price conscious consumer. At the other end of the spectrum is the Onkyo DV-HD805 which will retail at around €999 and promises to produce stunning quality HD pictures for the truly discerning home cinema enthusiast. Of course the Onkyo will output 1080p, while also featuring HDMI 1.3 and full support for Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD and Deep Colour.

Talking of Deep Colour, I finally received confirmation that any HD DVD encoded with Deep Colour will play in on hardware that isn't compliant to the high bit depth standard. As suspected, if you play a Deep Colour encoded disc on hardware that isn't Deep Colour compliant, it will simply revert to 8-bit colour and play normally. It would appear that the only thing holding back Deep Colour discs, is the fact that movie studios simply aren't creating masters with high bit depth colour yet.

Toshiba also gave me some insight on the future use of the Extension Ports (basically USB ports) on its HD DVD players. It seems that these will be used to attach external storage, like USB keys or even external hard disks, thus allowing users to download content via the HD DVD interactive online features. It was even suggested that HD DVD players will be able to make use of NAS devices to augment persistent storage, making that mandatory Ethernet port even more of a bonus!

Toshiba also confirmed that it is working on hardware with integrated wireless HDMI functionality, which could revolutionise home cinema installs. The company was reluctant to reveal too many details, but I was told that there should be players with built-in wireless HDMI transmitters in around two years' time.

Finally, the HD DVD Promotion Group also announced that anyone purchasing the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive will now receive five HD DVD movies free. That's a pretty good deal considering that the drive only costs around £110 in the first place. Obviously you have to choose your free discs from a specified list, but even so, it looks like a pretty attractive offer.


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