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Toshiba Advances Midterm Plan

Toshiba unveiled the next wave of its previously announced mid-term business plan supported by a series of digital recorders and next generation flat-panel TV technology based on core Toshiba technologies.

At the same time, the company announced the integration of its flat-panel television development efforts, the establishment of a dedicated HD DVD Division to support its next-generation optical disc products, and the opening an online shopping site in Japan called “Shop Toshiba (1048).

In new product announcements, Toshiba introduced for its domestic market a new flagship DVR/DVD recorder combination unit called the RD-X5. The unit is based on its Toshiba’s “RD Style” units, incorporates a 600GB hard drive, and will record copy-once encoded programming under the Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM) system.

The new flagship DVR, which will go on sale in Japan in November, will be one of the first products capable of recording “copy-once” CPRM material.

The content protection system was recently approved for use in the United States as one of 13 broadcast flag content protection technologies.

The RD-X5 will save copy-once content — including down-converted HDTV programs — to a Toshiba-developed DVD-R disc, which will store recordings using the new DVD-VR disc format. The DVD-VR format also allows recording of bilingual sound tracks for recorded programs, when available, for both analog and digital broadcasts, a capability not supported by conventional recording to DVD-R.

The DVD deck will support DVD-RAM and DVD-RW/-R recordable disc formats, and offers writing speeds of 4x, 5x and 8x.

To support the product, Toshiba said it would sell in Japan DVD-R blank discs supporting CPRM. These will enable consumers to record “copy-once-encoded” HDTV content at variable bit rates in DVD-quality resolution on the special discs that are formatted in DVD-VR mode.

Toshiba said saving content to DVD VR will requires both a VR compatible disc and digital video recorder (DVR). To support the deck, Toshiba is also marketing a DVD-R disc supporting CPRM.

Toshiba also introduced for Japan what it called “the world’s slimmest DVR in the “RD-XS24.” The unit measures 2.28 inches high and incorporates an 80GB hard drive and a DVD Multi Drive. It also features LAN capabilities, including remote programming via e-mail. The unit records only in the standard DVD video format.

Both decks use Toshiba’s proprietary electronic program guide called DEPG, which will receive program information both from the Internet and terrestrial analog broadcast signals.