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Toshiba Unveils Thin Bezel LCDs At CEDIA

DENVER—Toshiba travels to CEDIA Expo this week to unveil a pair of “super narrow bezel” Regza 1080p LCD TVs, and to demonstrate its recently announced third-generation HD DVD player lineup.

The new Regza models include the 40-inch ($1,899 suggested retail) and 46-inch ($2,499) screen sizes, and are designed as a mid-step line, below Cinema Series models.

When they ship this month, Toshiba said the new sets will have “the thinnest front view” of any of the new reduced cabinet LCD lines announced this year. Most noticeable is the reduced below screen frame area, and the narrower panel width that will help the sets fit into a greater variety of cabinet spaces.

The 46-inch model is about an inch wider than a typical 42-inch LCD and shorter. The 40-inch model offers the same width as Toshiba’s 37-inch model (37.7 inches wide), meaning it will fit most armoires designed for 37-inch TVs, said Scott Ramirez, Toshiba TV group marketing VP.

The side bezel frame is less than an inch wide, whereas the standard frame is about twice that size, he said.

“What I’m hearing from consumers is that ‘I want to fit my set into a certain spot’ and that means they want a product with reduced cabinet width and height,” said Ramirez. “The depth of the TV has not been an issue.”

“Right now, cosmetic design, more than anything else, is what’s selling televisions,” Ramirez said. “Having a unique cosmetic design is crucial. Today everything is gloss black and has some kind of trim, so everything is starting to look similar again. This will give us a different look and help the models stand out on the floor.”

The new models feature 1080p/60Hz 10-bit panels that support new x.v.YCC expanded color gamut technology. The models are positioned below Cinema Series models, which add 120Hz frame rate technology and Deep Color expanded color depth.

The models feature three HDMI inputs, and HDMI-CEC system integration control.

Both models will have open distribution, but most of that will be field based, Ramirez said. The 40-inch model will be carried by Circuit City, and neither model will be carried by Best Buy, Ramirez said.

Ramirez said that “from the first quarter to second quarter, Toshiba’s Regza market share increased 77 percent to a little over 10 percent, which was our initial goal. What we shipped in the spring was 32- to 42-inch. Now we are shipping larger screens 46 to 52s, so our goal is to get that same amount of share in the larger sizes that we got in the 32s and 42s. Over the next few months we will have a long of 46 to 52s in the market place and we plan to achieve at least 10 percent or more in market share when we look at these new screen sizes.”

Toshiba plans to offer several promotional programs going into the holidays, Ramirez said, including a continuation of its no- payments until-2009 financing program and some retail incentive programs that will be announced later.

In HD DVD, Toshiba is showing it recently announced third-generation HD DVD player lineup, which will launch in October, with three models ranging in suggested retail price from $299 to $499.

The format also recently got a major boost from the announcement of two new studio support exclusives from Paramount and DreamWorks Animation SKG, joining stalwart Universal.

The new models include built-in support for HDi networking, which will bring a host of interactive extras to certain titles linked to Web sites.

The models include the new entry HD-A3 ($299), the HD-A30 ($399) and the top-of-the line HD A-35 ($499). The later two add 1080p/24 fps support, although the HD A-35 will not include the HQV video processing system used in the flagship model, which will continue.