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Toshiba Bows TiVo Media Server At CES

Toshiba will use CES to unveil its first TiVo-based Digital Media Server which combines a hard drive video recorder with a progressive scan DVD player.

The company will also unveil a number of home and portable DVD players, TV/DVD combo products and Toshiba’s first home-theater-in-a-box product.

The product demonstrated here will be a prototype of the unit slated for a second half 2003 delivery. Specifications were still being finalized, but current expectations are that it will include a progressive-scan DVD player, built-in NTSC tuner, TiVo DVR with 80GB hard drive, and high-bandwidth component video outputs for both DVD and DVR signal sources. Pricing will be announced later.

Yoshi Uchiyama, Toshiba’s strategic business development VP, said his company elected to enter the TiVo business, because it holds great potential despite its relatively slow start.

“The industry is shifting toward combination products, the capacity is growing faster and the average price per gigabyte is trending lower and lower,” he said, adding that Toshiba expects the growth of distributed video over the Internet to help fuel future growth for DVRs.

“Once [distributed video service providers] are in place, we believe DVRs will be a more suitable destination for video titles than the PCs in your den,” he said.

Meanwhile, Toshiba announced that all new DVD players for 2003 will be compatible with the Windows Media Audio format and will include Toshiba’s Digital Photo Viewer software for presenting JPEG still images on TV screens. Other common features include dialog enhancement, and enhanced audio mode offering virtual surround sound.

The entry level model, SD-2900 ($129.99 suggested retail, February) offers multi-disc compatibility and five selections of enhanced picture mode, allowing users to optimize the DVD player to the type of DVD they are watching. For example, an “animation” setting will set the color contrast for the best picture on cartoons.

The SD-3900 ($149.99, March) adds progressive scan playback capability and a silver cabinet.

Other models, including DVD-Audio products, will be announced later in the year.

Toshiba is expanding its line of dual-deck DVD/VCR combo products with progressive scan models. The SDV290 ($229.99, February) combines a four-head HiFi VCR and DVD player that is compatible with WMA and JPEG image files.

The SDV390 ($249.99, March) adds progressive scan DVD playback.

In portable DVD, Toshiba will transition in the slim-design SDP-2500 ($799.99, May), which includes an 8.9-inch high resolution 1024 by 600 pixel screen, progressive scan output and DVD-Audio playback. The suggested retail price has been reduced $100 from the prior SDP-2000.

A new portable DVD “concept” product is the SDP-1200 ($599.99, April), which features a high-endurance rubberized body for traveling. Called the “DVD-On-The-Go” model, the unit offers a 7W-inch LCD screen, and a 3.5 hour battery pack.

Toshiba said it would try to build on its No. 1 market share position in TV/DVD combo products while reducing its TV/VCR lineup to two core models. New TV/VCRs will include the 13-inch MV13N2 ($189.99, February) and 19-inch MV19N2 ($249.99, February). Models feature a silver cosmetic design, slimmer cabinet, front A/V jacks, Commercial Skip and sleep/awake timer.

The TV/DVD category will add the 14-inch, 19-inch and 27-inch (Tri-Play) screen sizes. All include glow-type remotes, offer stereo sound and feature front A/V jacks.

Models will include the 9-inch AC/DC MD9DN1 ($399.99, April), the 13-inch MD13N1 ($249.99, March), and the 19-inch MD19N1 ($329.99, March) all have curve glass picture tubes. Models incorporating FST Pure Flat picture tubes include the 14-inch MD14N1 ($329.99, April) and the 20-inch MD20FN1 ($399.99, April).

New Tri-play TV/DVD/VCR combos include the 20-inch MW20FN1 ($529.99, March), the 24-inch MW24FN1 ($629.99, March) and the 27-inch MW27FN1 ($699.99, April). All feature two-tone color, double baffle side speakers, four-head HiFi VCR, FST PureFlat picture tube and DVD player.

Toshiba’s first DVD home-theater-in-a-box system (SDHT20 $349.99, April) will feature slim, mirrored-front styling, progressive scan DVD playback, 5 x 50-watt satellite speakers, 70-watt subwoofer and color-coded connections.