Sony & Toshiba make rather different impacts at CeBIT and Gordon tries to do photographic justice to Chi Mei's incredible Quad HDTV display.
I began my preview of CeBIT this year saying it would be the year of high definition. I began my coverage looking at HD compatible screens and next generation media, so it seems fitting to come full circle.
We begin with Sony, the leading proponent of Blu-ray technology and market leader in global sales of flat screen HD ready TVs. Staggeringly, it made the curious decision to ignore any promotion or demonstration of Blu-ray throughout the show, instead choosing to concentrate on its displays and notebooks.
Certainly, it was nice to see the wall of screens the company put up illustrating a range of HD ready sets but a few halls away Toshiba (the main backer of HD DVD) was exploiting this Blu-ray’s absence to the full.
Before we come to that though, let’s take a look at what Sony did have to offer and the focus was very much on real world consumer products. Pride of place went to the FWD-50PX2 (above), a 50in plasma widescreen with 1366 x 768 resolution (enough for 1080i but not 1080p). DVI-D, 2x Component, 1x Composite and 1x S-Video inputs are available and it measures just 4.4in thick but it didn’t have the wow factor I’d experienced with displays on other stands.
Perhaps this was because the FWD-50PX2 is actually being made available as we speak, rather than in six or eight months time but the RRP of 4,300 euros is still a hefty price to pay.
A step down and the 40in FWD-40LX1 told much the same story: 1366 x 768 resolution, identical inputs and immediate market availability with a more down to earth 3,229 euro price tag. That’s very respectable, but something in my core being tells a technology show should be about showing what a company is capable of, demonstrating an exciting future and not simply replicating a Currys or Dixons store floor. Sadly, that is how I felt here.
It may come to regret this decision too because the aforementioned Toshiba had chosen a very different direction. HD DVD logos and massive 1080p screens dominated the company’s stand and it even set up a small cinema (complete with freshly made popcorn) for visitors to submerge themselves in its format’s next generation delights.
Truth be told, I’d still rather Blu-ray won due to its larger capacity (25GB on a single layer compared to 15GB on HD DVD) but it made me wonder whether the phenomenal booth at Samsung meant it was Sony’s partners who were showing the greater stomach for the fight.
Regardless of media, Toshiba’s screens were also taking my breath away. The 47 WLG 66 is a stunning 47in LCD display with native 1080p support. A massive 178 degree viewing angle is one of the largest I have seen and the 800:1 contrast ratio and 550 cd/m2 brightness made the looped King Kong trailer look fantastic.
Inputs read like a who’s who of connectivity with 2x SCART, 1x S-VHS, 2x HDMI and even a PC VGA input available. SRS WOW Surround sound technology is built in along with 2x 30W output and a bass amplifier. It is market ready, so keep a very close eye for a release date in the coming weeks.
In the ‘out now’ category is the 42in WL 58P. Two identical sets were running an HD DVD of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride side by side and though the resolution was limited to a more modest 1366 x 768, the 176 degree viewing angle, 550:1 contrast ratio and 500cd m2 brightness still made them stand out.