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Toshiba Primes Q4 HD DVD, LCD Market

Toshiba is making available a firmware update for its HD DVD players, adding network connectivity to download Web-enabled bonus content among other things, the company said at a press reception held here last week.

In LCD TV, the company said is now shipping large-screen Regza models just as its LCD TV market share has spiked in key screen sizes.

In other HD DVD news, the company said that promotional pricing levels on its HD DVD players in May and June will become standard suggested retails July 1. The HD-A2 is now $299, while the HD-A20 is $399. The top-of-the-line HD-XA2 continues at $799.

“With HD DVD, studios have the ability to develop new and unique content for movie fans, enabling consumers to have an entirely new way to access entertainment and customize their home movie experience that is currently not available with any other format,” said Jodi Sally, Toshiba’s digital A/V group marketing VP.

Using supplied Ethernet ports on all Toshiba HD DVD players, users will able to download bonus features to internal storage from a movie studio’s server. The functionality will also enable “unlocking” bonus content hidden on some HD DVD discs using a downloadable key.

Users will also be able to upload content and interact with content providers through such means as interactive polls, Toshiba said.

Toshiba also said that it will add 24p frame-rate output to its HD-AX2 and HD-A20 through an update planned in September.

At the same time, Toshiba’s TV marketing VP Scott Ramirez said the company is ready to ship new premium 46-inch, 47-inch and 52-inch Regza LCD TVs and will add its 57-inch Cinema Series LCD TV model in July.

Ramirez said that Toshiba’s flat-panel market share has jumped significantly, according to The NPD Group’s retail tracking service TV data. Market research on TV sales, including combos, showed Toshiba nearly doubled its share in the 32- to 42-inch LCD category in April and May 2007.

“Consumers are responding to the quality and design of Regza, but more importantly, they are proving that Toshiba is a market leader in flat panel TV,” Ramirez said.

According to NPD, Toshiba’s share in the 32- to 42-inch screen size grew 90 percent, to 10.8 percent market share, making Toshiba No. 3 in the LCD screen size range, including combos.

Toshiba’s 40- to 42-inch LCD market share grew to 12.7 percent in the period, while its 37-inch share grew 13.2 percent.

The new LCD models coming to market add Toshiba’s advanced ClearFrame 120 Hz Anti-Blur System for smooth fast action image reproduction,

New models include the Regza 47-inch 47HL167 ($2,499) and 52-inch 52HL167 ($3,499), and Regza Cinema Series 42LX177 ($2,299), 46LX177 ($2,999) and 52LX177 ($3,999). The 57-inch model will ship in July at a price to be determined.