Toshiba took the wraps off its first Cell TVs for the United States, starting with two series planned for the third or fourth quarters, during International CES.
Toshiba plans to offer a total of five Cell TV models in two series, including the XV900 Genesis Design series in 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes, both offering black brushed-aluminum bezels, and, later, an Allusion Design series in the 46-, 55- and 65-inch screen sizes. Pricing was not available.
All models will use a two-piece system including a set-top box that wirelessly connects to a 1080p LCD screen. The set-top box houses the system's advanced Cell processor that is said to be 10 times more powerful than most PCs and 143 times faster than most LCD TVs.
The set-top box also houses a full range of home server functionality, including a 1TB hard disk drive to record and view multiple channels of content, and an Internet video system to access streaming-video services from partners including Vudu, Roxio CinemaNow, Netflix and, for music, Pandora. It will also include a built-in Blu-ray Disc player.
The sets also include the next level of Toshiba's Super Resolution technology, which will up-convert content to full 1080p/480Hz smooth-motion images and new Net Super Resolution circuitry that further cleans up compression artifacts from Internet-delivered content.
The sets, which are based on an all new chassis design, use full-array LED backlighting and Toshiba's Kira 2 local dimming technology. This taps the power of the Cell chip to address brightness levels of the LEDs across 512 zones, separately adjusting both blacks and whites, said Scott Ramirez, Toshiba TV group marketing VP. This results in a screen brightness of 1,000 cd/m2.
Lighting sensors in the sets monitor ambient room brightness as well as the color temperature of the surround lights to adjust the brightness levels of the sets for optimal viewing and reduced power consumption, the company said.
For 3D, the Cell TVs will convert any standard 2D content, including video games, home videos and other TV fare, to 3D in real time, using Toshiba's Tri-Vector technology. The system creates a stereoscopic 3D effect by filling in missing pixels, delivering full 1080p, 240Hz images to each eye.
“This is going to set us apart,” Ramirez said of the TriVector capability. “So 480Hz in 2D mode, changes to 240Hz for each eye in 3D mode. Even our regular 3D is going to give crisp, clear motion.”
Ramirez said the system will support multiple formats of active shutter glasses.
To use the set as a whole-home server, the Cell TVs will include 802.11n wireless support and DLNA compliance. This will enable sending programming to other rooms while using DLNA protocols to control that content as well as access content from other connected devices.
Ramirez said Toshiba plans to expand the both LED backlighting, and Cell TV architecture in the near future, possibly leading to the elimination of CCFL backlit LCD TVs by 2012 and the eventual introduction of full 4,000-by-2,000 pixel high-resolution HDTV LCD TV sets.
Although pricing was not disclosed on the sets, Ramirez explained that a 27 percent uptick in TV unit sales last year and a forecasted growth to over 34 million LCD TV unit shipments in 2010 indicates some consumers are willing to pay more for better quality TV sets.
Ramirez said 50-to-59-inch LCD TV sales should remain stable at about 2.8 million units, “but this year 60-inch-plus LCD starts to come into its own, and once you add that in we are talking about maybe 3.5 million large screen LCD TVs, which will be about 25 percent more than plasma — even in big screen.”
Ramirez said much of that business will be done by the top-tier brands, including more than half of all sets measuring 32 inches and above.
Although pricing has dropped precipitously in most screen sizes, prices actually rose in the 52- to 55-inch screen sizes because manufacturers included LED backlighting to a greater degree in that segment last year.
In the second half of 2010, Ramirez is forecasting tier-one brands to move to 35 percent LED-based LCD TV models.