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Toshiba America Consumer Products, L.L.C. ("Toshiba") unveiled today the market launch details for its line-up of the first High Definition DVD players for the U.S. market. The new HD DVD players, models HD-XA1 and HD-A1, will take advantage of the superior capabilities of the HD DVD format, including outstanding visual quality supported by leading-edge video compression technologies, the high resolution audio specifications and the capability for enhanced functionality including, Advanced Navigation, also referred to as "iHD."
To coincide with the rapid market penetration of HDTV devices in U.S. households, Toshiba's new HD DVD models will offer consumers a feature rich, high definition media format for the home, building upon the great features of today's DVD – one of the most successful A/V products ever. Both the HD-XA1 and the HD-A1 will start shipping to retailers in March, 2006.
"As a leader in home entertainment and a pioneer in DVD technology, we are very excited to introduce our first HD DVD players for U.S. consumers," said Jodi Sally, Vice President of Marketing, Toshiba America Consumer Products Digital A/V Group. "With the support of some of the hottest films, we can confidently say that Toshiba's HD DVD players will come to market with important industry backing in time to meet the HDTV transition."
An Evolution in Video Home Entertainment and a Revolution in Technology
As a logical evolution of the DVD market to high definition, the HD-XA1 and HD-A1 have backward compatibility, allowing users to continue to enjoy their libraries of current DVD and CD software*. Supporting the leading-edge efficient video compression standards of MPEG-4 AVC and VC-1, as well as MPEG2, both models will utilize the new video decoder chip developed by Broadcom. To meet the latest advancements in Audio/Video interfaces, both models connect to HDTV sets via a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI™. HDMI is the first industry-supported all digital A/V connection providing the transmission of uncompressed digital video and multi-channel audio on a single cable. The new HD DVD players will output copy-protected HD content through the HDMI interface in the native format of the HD DVD disc content of either 720p or 1080i. Through the HDMI interface, standard definition DVDs can be upconverted to output resolution of 720p or 1080i to complement the performance of a HDTV. As the conversion takes place in the player, the signal remains free from excessive digital-to-analog conversion artifacts.
High Quality Audio
Toshiba's HD-XA1 and HD-A1 support a variety of HD audio options to complement HD video offerings. The mandatory audio formats for HD DVD include both lossy and lossless formats from Dolby Labs and DTS® – including the newly developed Dolby® Digital Plus and DTS-HD.
The lossless mandatory formats include Linear PCM and Dolby TrueHD (only 2 Channel support is mandatory). The TrueHD format is bit-for-bit identical to the high resolution studio masters and can support up to eight discrete full range channels of 24-bit/96k Hz audio. Another lossless format (specified as an optional format) is DTS-HD. This employs high sampling rates of up to192k Hz.
Both models feature built-in multi-channel decoders for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD (2 channel), DTS and DTS-HD. The HD-XA1 employs the use of
four high performance DSP engines to decode the multi-channel streams of the wide array of audio formats. These high performance processors will perform the required conversion process, as well as the extensive on-board Multi-Channel Signal Management including: User Selectable Crossovers, Delay Management and Channel Level Management.
The new HD DVD players can pass digital information to a Surround Sound Processor/Receiver via S/PDIF or HDMI. For Dolby Digital and DTS, the bitstream will be passed through both connections just as in a standard DVD player with the same interfaces. Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD content will be converted to a standard bitstream format that is compatible with any processor equipped with decoders of the respective formats and output through S/PDIF and HDMI. Additionally, all the audio formats for either DVD or HD DVD will be decoded to PCM and output via HDMI in either stereo or multi-channel.
High Definition Design
The design of both new HD DVD players was developed to complement the newly designed DLP™ Projection TV models as well as Toshiba's extensive flat panel TV line-up. Specifically, the construction of the HD-XA1 was developed not only for advancements in performance, but also for the refinements expected of a high performance player. It features a motorized door which conceals the disc drawer, function buttons and two front USB ports, for convenient connection of gaming controllers. The HD-XA1 also includes three different user selectable interfaces to further enhance customization and a backlit remote control that is conveniently motion activated.
Because HD DVD Discs spin at higher revolutions than a standard DVD, accurate mechanical engineering went into the chassis design of both models. A double chassis construction is employed to add stability and strength against vibrations and the HD-XA1 adds insulated stabilizing feet to provide a steadfast foundation for the device.
High Definition Market Launch
Toshiba also unveiled an extensive integrated marketing communications campaign to support the launch of its first HD DVD players. The multi-tiered campaign is designed to create consumer awareness for HD DVD and to support retailers with promotional and training activities.
A teaser micro-site was recently launched with the release of a full micro-site to follow.
The current teaser micro-site has been designed to educate consumers on HD DVD, and the launch of the full micro-site will include pertinent product and software information with links on where to buy, options for pre-ordering players, as well as listings of where to see product demonstrations.
Toshiba also announced a retail demonstration plan which will target the top 38 TV viewing markets in the U.S. beginning in February, 2006. In advance of the actual product launch in March, Toshiba's 38-city "road tour" will include consumer demonstrations and retailer training at many of the top electronics retail outlets nationwide.
Beginning this Spring, an extensive advertising campaign titled, "So real you can feel it," will target the HDTV consumer. This campaign will be supported by continued consumer education through the use of HD DVD collateral materials to help make consumers aware of the benefits of HD DVD.
To support retailers, Toshiba will offer an HD DVD in-store product display designed to enhance retail presence and to provide valuable information regarding HD DVD. The display also offers the retailer the flexibility to add HD DVD software to surround the display. These displays will work in conjunction with Toshiba's HDTV in-store presence, and Toshiba will also add retail incentives to encourage attachment of a HD DVD player to the sale of Toshiba's HDTV products.
Pricing and Availability
HD-XA1 ($799.99, March 2006); HD-A1 ($499.99, March 2006)
Samsung Electronics formally kicks off the era of Blu-ray today, as it demonstrates its BD-P1000 Blu-ray disc (BD) player here at CES. The new device will let consumers take full advantage of high-definition displays, playing content at native 720p or 1080i video resolutions. The player will ship in early Spring and shortly thereafter will become the first BD player from any manufacturer to be sold in the U.S. It is expected to retail for approximately $1,000.
The BD player includes a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) output, an industry-supported, uncompressed, all-digital audio/video interface on a single cable, allowing users to easily connect the Blu-ray player to their existing home televisions. It will also decode standard multi-channel audio.
“Samsung’s Blu-ray player will be the first available to consumers, and we will continue to innovate with our introduction of a Blu-ray recorder later this year,” said President Geesung Choi of Samsung Electronics’ Digital Media Business. “With today’s announcement and those to come, Samsung is demonstrating its leadership in driving the next generation optical format.”
Samsung developed all components of the BD-P1000 internally. Samsung’s unique technology – one pickup with two lenses – allows it to also play standard DVDs and CDs in addition to Blu-ray discs while allowing for more cost-effective production. The supported DVD formats include DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+RW, and DVD+R. Additional features of the BD-P1000 include memory card reader, full audio format support, pop-up and always-on menu options; a full color high-definition animated button; and improved bitmap and text subtitles.
The increased storage capacity of Blu-ray discs allows the Samsung BD player to offer an astounding 25 GB of content on a single-sided disc (50 GB per dual layer) - nearly six times the capacity of traditional DVDs and enough space for two hours of high-definition movies or recorded content (see chart below).
The Blu-ray next-generation optical disc format was created by a group of the world’s top consumer electronics companies, including Samsung. This format was intended to meet intense consumer demand for playing and recording high-definition content, which far surpasses the video quality DVD can handle. With remarkable high quality video and crisp audio clarity, Blu-ray is unsurpassed in high-definition entertainment. Other applications including gaming and interactive media will take even greater advantage of the format.
Connectivity includes CVBS Output, S-Video Output, component output, HDMI and both digital and analog audio outputs. Supported audio formats include 192KHz LPCM, Dolby digital & Dolby Digital Plus, MPEG 2, DTS and MP3. BD-P1000 also has a memory card reader supporting Compact Flash, XD Picture card, Micro Drive, SD, MMC & RS-MMC, Memory stick and Memory stick duo (all TM).
The BD-P1000 is scheduled to ship to the U.S. in early Spring 2006, in tandem with the availability of the first pre-recorded Blu-ray titles. It is expected to retail for approximately $1,000.
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