Las Vegas - The introduction of its first universal multichannel music format DVD players, and players with HDTV upconversion circuitry highlight new video offerings from Toshiba at CES.
Toshiba will offer both single-disc and DVD-changer models that include dual DVD-Audio and multi-channel SACD music playback, said Jodi Sally, Toshiba Digital A/V Group marketing director.
'This is a huge milestone for Toshiba,' Sally said. 'We are appealing to the audiophile by including both multi-channel DVD-Audio and SACD.
She said that with the introductions, the company has elected not to continue marketing multi-channel music players that have DVD-Audio-only compatibility.
The multi-channel music DVD players will include the single-disc SD-5960 ($199 suggested retail), which will ship in June. It adds built-in Dolby Digital decoding and onboard bass management.
Also adding the DVD-Audio/SACD capability is the SD-6915 five-disc changer, which will ship in May at $249. It features a slim-chassis (69mm height) design.
Harmonized cosmetic designs with a unified look will mark all Toshiba DVD products for 2004. Sally said the strategy is designed to wed Toshiba source components with Toshiba televisions, which have a similar look.
In DVD players, the company will for the first time offer HDMI-HDCP digital outputs and HD-level up conversion (both 720p and 1080i) as key step-up features in single and dual-deck DVD models.
'We feel that for future connectivity, HDMI is critical the single-connection convenience, and it coordinates with our digital TV strategy,' said Sally.
Models with HDMI and HD upconversion include the single-disc SD-4960, which ships in March at a $199 suggested retail, and the dual-deck DVD/VCR, SDV-592, which ships in July at $249.
Cognizant of the many new brands that have entered the DVD portable business in the past year, Toshiba elected to re-engineer the styling design of its 2004 lineup, including more slim designs and 'volume price points,' Sally said.
Gone from the lineup is the rubberized red-cabinet model as line cosmetics change to 'a slimmer, sliver cabinet' in the SDP-1400 ($349 suggested retail). It ships in February with bundled 3.5-hour quick-charge battery and a car power adapter. To achieve the slim design, Toshiba repositioned the battery to the rear of unit.
At the high-end, Toshiba will carry the SDP-2600, which features a 16:9 widescreen display with 1024 by 600-pixel resolution. It will include a direct-to-digital solution, with a direct digital path from the DVD to the screen with out going through a D-to-A or A-to-D conversion process. Built-in speakers use Titanium drivers with a bass reflex toe-in design.
Also included are SD and MMD flash memory card slots, a car power adapter, 3.5-hour quick charge battery and dual headphone jacks.
In DVD recorders, Toshiba will introduce an expanded lineup of DVD recorders. It will continue to promote its Super Multi-Drive technology, which reads and writes to the DVD-RAM, DVD-R and DVD-RW disc formats. Decks will also underscore the ease-of-use benefits of Toshiba’s NAVI Menu record programming system (VCR+ is also included) that was designed to curb product returns by simplifying the process of using disc-based recorders.
To further curb the chance of DVD recorder returns, Toshiba instituted a dedicated toll-free assistance to help consumers who may run into difficulty using their decks.
DVD recorder models also include IR blaster leads that will relay IR control signals to cable and DBS set-top boxes for recording. Also added is a front-panel IEEE-1394 jack for DV camcorder input.
The entry deck, model DR-2, will ship in March at $499 suggested.
The step-up RD-SX32 is a combination DVD recorder/PVR, which is slated to ship in March at a $699 suggested retail price. It incorporates an 80GB hard disc drive and allows high-speed dubbing from hard drive to disc.
'To support our DVD recorder launch we will continue with a national print advertising campaign to promote our Multi Drive capability. We will make retail displays available and will introduce it with a consumer software promotion for all three recordable formats,' Sally said.
Toshiba will prominently feature its next-generation DVD recorder format — the blue-laser-based HD-DVD — with prototype models at CES. The format recently won DVD Forum approval for a playback only version of the system, and is awaiting approval for a recordable version. Toshiba is looking to introduce HD-DVD products in 2005.
Also slated is a line of next-generation integrated TiVo products. This will include the SCH410, progressive scan DVD/TiVo DVR, which is expected in the third quarter as a replacement for the current SDH400. The company will also add an integrated TiVo/DVD recorder model in the third quarter. Prices will be announced later. All TiVo products will continue to offer a free basic TiVo subscription option.
Toshiba will expand its DVD Theater home theater in box assortment, by following the DVD player trend, with the introduction of two dual-deck DVD/VCR HTiB models, Sally said.
Models offer a unified cosmetic design with other Toshiba DVD players and Toshiba TVs.
The SD-V55HT offers 400 total watts (60 watts per speaker), progressive-scan DVD, AM/FM tuner and four-head VCR. Five satellite speakers are included along with a 100-watt subwoofer. It ships in April at a $399 suggested retail.
The step-up SD-V65HT adds 600 total watts (100 watts per speaker), and will ship in April at a $449 suggested retail.
Toshiba will look to maintain its leading market share position in TV combos, by improving its cosmetic design and adding value-added features.
'As larger screen televisions shift to digital, TV/VCR combinations will continue to become a commodity business, primarily targeting bedroom placements,' Sally said.
The TV/VCR lineup will include the 13-inch NV-13P2 ($149, January) and the 20-inch NV-20P2 ($199, February). Included is an icon-based menu system, picture preference mode with four settings, and glow remote control.
All TV/DVD combination models this year include stereo sound. In curved tube models the line starts with one 9-inc AC/DC model — the MD9DP1 ($249) — followed by the 13-inch MD13P1 ($199, February), and the 20-inch MD20P1 ($249).
Flat-tube TV/DVD combos feature side-baffled speakers, and offer MP3, WMA and JPEG file playback. The entry model is the 14-inch MD14FP1 ($249, February), followed by the 20-inch MD20FP1 ($299, February), which adds a digital comb filter.
Toshiba expands the line this year with a 24-inch TV/DVD combo in the MD24FP1 ($399, April).
The company will also carry three models of TriPlay (TV/DVD/VCR) combos with the 20-inch MW20FP1 ($399, February), the 24-inch MW24FP1 ($499, March) and the 27-inch MW27FP1 ($599, March).