Toshiba 2006 Product Launch

Amidst the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, Toshiba showed off it's latest high-tech goodies.

Despite being the most successful consumer electronics product ever produced, DVD must be getting a bit nervous. With HD-DVD and Blu-ray set to fight it out later this year, the humble DVD will probably start to lose popularity as soon as the benefits of HD content on disc become apparent. That said, the beast isn’t dead yet and Toshiba had some a couple of interesting products on show.

The RD-85DT is the latest HDD/DVD recorder and, it has to be said, it looks great. I’m not entirely sure what I like so much about the styling of the RD-85DT, but something about it just works. As well as good looks, the RD-85DT has a 160GB hard disk, an eight day EPG, PAL progressive output, component video output and an integrated DVD drive.

The D-R160 shares many features with the RD-85DT but doesn’t feature either the hard disk or digital tuner. This is a basic DVD recorder, but it does have PAL progressive output, component video output and MP3 playback.

But the main event when it came to optical storage was a demonstration of Toshiba’s HD-DVD player – the HD-XA1. This device is already on sale in Japan and will go on sale in the US next week.

Toshiba hooked the HD-XA1 up to a 47WLT66 screen and showed some 1080 HD footage which looked very, very good. To highlight the image quality the input was switched to identical footage, but in SD format and back again – obviously the feed from the HD-XA1 was far superior.

Unfortunately Tosh didn’t have a retail HD-DVD disc to show off, instead it had a disc full of HD trailers supplied by Warner Brothers. There’s no denying that the footage looked great, but none of the additional features that HD-DVD will bring to the mix could be demonstrated. Luckily I had a demonstration of the next generation interactive features that HD-DVD will bring while I was at the Intel Developer Forum last month, and it’s certainly a big step forward from where we are today.

Of course one of the “advantages” that has been cited for the HD-DVD interactive experience is the ability to instantly purchase “product placements” in movies. Personally I’m not sure whether I want my movie collection to become a viral marketing tool, but somehow I don’t think my opinion will stop it happening.

Despite the fact that both Japan and the US (by next week) are already enjoying HD-DVD, over here in Europe we’re going to have to wait another six months or so. In fact, the player that you see here won’t be coming to Europe at all, and the first device here will be a second generation unit. The problem is that by the time HD-DVD launches in Europe the PS3 will (hopefully) be here, so the format won’t have the lead time that it’s getting in Asia and America. I’m not going to get drawn into a format war debate here, but with Intel’s recent support for HD-DVD along with Microsoft, guessing which format will win is harder than ever.

Link: Toshiba UK

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