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Toshiba To Unveil 1st Blu-ray Disc Player

Toshiba will use CEDIA Expo as the U.S. launching pad for its first Blu-ray Disc player.

Putting its HD DVD platform fully behind it, the company recently announced that it was ready to extend its expertise in DVD technology into the Blu-ray Disc space.

The first BD player, model BD-X2000, will carry a $250 suggested retail when it begins shipping in November.

It will include BD-Live Profile 2.0 capability (with the addition of 1GB or more of persistent storage memory via an optional SD card) and BonusView support.

To accommodate the additional memory for the BD-Live function, the player will include an SD card slot that can also be used to play back digital photos and music files on a connected TV.

BD-Live will also require a connection to an in-home broadband network via a built-in Ethernet port. The addition of an optional third-party Wi-Fi adapter will enable wireless Internet connectivity, Toshiba said.

In addition, the player will support all of the advanced surround-sound codecs in the Blu-ray spec, and will up-convert standard-definition DVDs to HD formats, including 1080p at 24 fps, Toshiba said.

However, Toshiba does not include in the first BD player its advanced XDE up-conversion system that is used in select Toshiba XDE DVD players.

Cosmetically, the BD-X2000 was designed to continue the look of Toshiba’s 2009 Regza LCD TVs, with a black color treatment similar to the “Deep Lagoon” look of advanced Regza TV models. It also adds a high-gloss front-panel drop-down door to conceal the onboard primary function buttons.

“Design is a very integral component of our whole entertainment-based product lineup,” said Jodi Sally, Toshiba DAV group marketing VP. “We will follow that tradition, offering a Blu-ray player with a very sleek appearance.”

Outputs include a RegzaLink (HDMI-CEC) connection, enabling owners of compatible Toshiba Regza TVs to operate multiple connected components with one remote.

Sally noted the player will have open distribution to all of Toshiba’s authorized retail partners. The company plans to promote the deck both as a standalone sale, and as an add-on to Regza LCD TVs.

“Our marketing message to our retailers with the launch of our first Blu-ray player is that we want to support the sales of our high-def TV products, and during the key holiday selling season we will deploy promotions enhanced to drive sales at retail, including this model in bundled promotions for the Regza TV lineup,” Sally said. “We will also be promoting the player at retail with some promotions designed to drive standalone sales.” Details on any specific standalone and bundling offers will be announced later, she said.

Scott Ramirez, Toshiba TV products marketing VP, said the company was not planning any TV introductions at the show.

“In order to ensure efficiency and consistency at retail, we have decided not to continue biannual line introductions,” he said, adding that the next new TV product news is slated for International CES in January.

However, the company is planning a fall advertising campaign targeting Regza products, and putting more emphasis on the Internet and social networking to drive the message to consumers.

Ramirez said TV demand has slowed in recent weeks leading up to CEDIA, but is expected to pickup momentum as the holidays draw closer.

TV demand “had been very strong until mid-July. I think the Government ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program has temporarily reallocated some discretionary income to automobiles. However, we feel the September through January key sales season will continue double-digit growth,” he said.

As for step-up products that tend to get more CEDIA-related distribution, Ramirez said the company’s high-end Cinema-series LED TV models with local dimming “have been getting incredible feedback, positive reviews and even winning shootouts. Demand has been higher than supply, so we will significantly enhance our LED TV offering for 2010.”