Toshiba to Launch New HD-DVD Players in U.S.

Toshiba will soon put its second generation of HD-DVD players on sale in the United States.

The Tokyo company kicked off the high-definition movie battle in the United States earlier this year when it put its first generation of HD-DVD players on sale. They were soon followed by a machine from Samsung Electronics for the rival Blu-ray Disc format.

Both formats use optical discs the same size as a CD or DVD, but use blue lasers to cram much more data onto the discs. However, Blu-ray and HD DVD are incompatible, and the different companies behind each format are vying for the favor of consumers. To date, many consumers seem to be reacting cooly to the rival formats and are sitting on the sidelines until a winner is crowned.

The more expensive of Toshiba’s two new players, the HD-XA2, packs several new features that should mean a better picture if you have the right TV and content. The player generates output at up to 1080p, which is the highest of several levels of high-definition picture, and has the latest version of the high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) standard. HDMI version 1.3 increases the color depth from 24 bits to 36 bits for deeper colors in images, but users will need a compatible TV to realize the benefit.

The HD-A2 will be available in October for US$500, and the HD-XA2 will go on sale in December for US$1,000, said Toshiba. That means there’s no change in the price of Toshiba’s cheapest HD-DVD player, but there is an increase of $200 in the price of the high-end model from the current $800 price tag for the HD-XA1.

-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)

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