By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Toshiba used a Rockefeller Center showcase for House Beautiful magazine last month to formally announce its entry into the digital media frame category and to unveil its first stainless steel-look DVD/LCD TV combo set.
Highlighting the new products in House Beautiful's “Kitchen of the Year” design showcase presided over by cooking diva Ina Garten (a.k.a. “The Barefoot Contessa” from the Food Network show of the same name), Toshiba marketing executives said the event was the perfect platform for their new high-styling 8-inch and 10-inch LCD digital frames and 19-inch LCD TV/DVD combo set with a cabinet that resembles the look of stainless steel.
The three initial digital frame models will ship in mid-August offering a high-gloss floating-glass look in the 8-inch screen sizes, while the 10-inch model is patterned after the company's Deep Lagoon 2009 LCD TV design style.
The 8-inch models will be offered with either black or white frame bezels, making them suitable for most room decors. The 10-inch model will be offered in a translucent black.
The white 8-inch DMF82XWU and the black 8-inch DMF82XKU will each carry $180 suggested retails. The 10-inch DMF102XKU will have a $230 suggested retail.
Jodi Sally, Toshiba digital A/V (DAV) group marketing VP, said the company is targeting the step-up segment of the digital media frame market, offering models with full Wi-Fi connectivity.
In addition to connecting to a networked PC in the home to share photos, the digital frames will connect with the online Frame Channel. Once an account has been established users can upload images or link favorite photos, music and videos from popular sites like Flickr, Photobucket and Facebook, and share them with family and friends that also have digital media frames.
The Frame Channel will also make it possible for users to access more than 1,000 free content channels in 19 categories, with selections like People.com, men's tennis, three-day forecast, stock quotes and Facebook.
Users can also subscribe to favorite channels and the frame will automatically update with real-time information.
Each frame ships with 1GB of built-in flash memory to store photos, videos and music files. The frames also include a USB port to connect to external thumb and portable hard drives, as well as a multi-format media card slot for files stored on external flash-memory cards.
“You can get digital photo frames today for $20 to $30, but this is more than that. We call them digital media frames because we are positioning them as devices to do much more than just show photos. These are more lifestyle devices that give you the news and weather and a range of other personalized content options,” said Louis Masses, Toshiba DAV group product planning director.
Sally said that in addition to distributing the products through Toshiba's traditional digital A/V retail accounts, the company will be targeting specialty photo and camera stores for the devices.
Meanwhile, Toshiba's faux stainless steel 19-inch LCD TV/DVD combo unit – model 19LV612U – will ship in September $350 suggested retail.
Toshiba said the stainless-steel-look set offers an all-in-one entertainment ensemble that combines style and picture excellence, with the look of stainless steel for today's kitchen designs.
The combo set features a built-in DVD player, useful for playing cooking shows recorded to DVD discs. By building the player into the set, homeowners reduce clutter from their counter tops without removing a valuable A/V component source.
The screen is configured to a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and connectivity includes HDMI and PC inputs, allowing the TVs to be used in conjunction with a computer.
All Toshiba LCD TV combination models are Energy Star compliant.
For distribution, Sally said Toshiba will target CE dealers with both TV and major appliances departments, and plans to co-merchandise the unit with stainless-steel appliances in stores.
The company also used the occasion to officially address unattributed reports out of Japan that the company was preparing to market Blu-ray Disc players and/or recorders for various international markets beginning in 2010.
Toshiba said, “It is true that we are discussing this [Blu-ray entry] issue and will deal with it with flexibility, but we have not made any decision at this moment.”
The company said that due to economic conditions, its XDE up-converting DVD players continue to sell well as step-up alternatives to entry up-converting DVD models, and are more affordable options to the purchase of most Blu-ray players.
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