CES 2008: Toshiba Press Conference

Toshiba talks HD DVD and Warner Brothers, while also announcing lots of new TV tech.

After the gloomy HD DVD news Toshiba turned to the more upbeat subject of TVs. There’s no doubt that Toshiba has made massive leaps forward with its flat panel TVs over the past few years, with the Regza LCD models offering great features and stylish design at a reasonable price. Last year saw 1080p support rolling out across most of the range, along with a 5:5 pull down 1080p 24Hz mode on the top model range.

Although the US launches don’t tend to compare directly to what we get in the UK, the launch line up at CES usually gives a good indication of what to expect back home. Interestingly Toshiba made a point of telling us that it wasn’t introducing any big design departures, insisting that consumers prefer designs that they are comfortable with – a stark contrast to the likes of Philips with its latest Aurea Ambilight series.

Key points are that Toshiba says it has made vast improvements to its dynamic backlight technology, claiming a 7x – 10x improvement in contrast ratio. Considering that black level response was one of the major shortcomings of last year’s Regza range, hopefully this improvement in dynamic backlighting will improve things.

The new range of Regza TVs will also all be equipped with a Gaming Mode, which bypasses much of the picture processing to ensure the low response time that gamers crave. On top of this, all 1080p models will be equipped with a high resolution PC input, which means that PC gamers will be able to play at 1,920 x 1,080 on their TVs via the D-SUB input.

Toshiba will be rolling out its 1080p 24Hz 5:5 pull down technology over a wider range of models – this was limited to the top of the range Z series last year. We will also see four HDMI ports on a television for the first time too, which is handy for people like myself who are always running out of HDMI inputs.

Toshiba also talked a little about upcoming products, saying that there will be another round of TV launches in the Autumn. It sounds as if we’re going to see the real innovations later in the year with more talk of TVs with embedded Cell chips. Now, don’t go thinking that this means you can play PS3 games on your Toshiba TV without a console, instead Toshiba is claiming that the implementation of a Cell chip will result in the best SD to HD upscaling ever seen. I’m keen to find out if this is true, so check back later in the year when I get my paws on a Cell chip equipped TV.

Finally Toshiba confirmed that it will be bringing TVs equipped with dynamically switching LED backlighting to market later in the year. Whether or not this is using the Brightside HDR display technology is hard to say, since Toshiba chose not to accept questions at the end of the Press conference, but I’ll be sure to ask Dolby if it has licensed the Brightside tech to Toshiba for its forthcoming TVs. I’ll be attending Toshiba’s 2008 product line up event in the UK next month, so I’ll find out then how these announcement correlate to the UK market.

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