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Toshiba’s HD DVD Pot Gets Sweetened

Denver— In addition to unveiling its new super-narrow-bezel LCD TV line, Toshiba announced several offers to entice consumers to pick up one of its new third-generation HDDVDplayers.

Jodi Sally, Toshiba digital audio/video products marketing VP, revealed that Toshiba will continue to offer coupons to redeem five free HD DVDs with the purchase of a HDDVDplayer, and has expanded the list of titles from which player purchasers may select their free discs.

At the same time the company announced that it will include copies of two HDDVDmovies — “300” and “The Bourne Identity” — in the box of its new third-generation HDDVDplayers

Toshiba is launching three new players this fall: the HD-A3, priced at $299, which will be available in October; the HD-A30, priced at $399, which will be available this month; and the HD-A35, available in October for $499.

Sally, who along with Toshiba TV group marketing VP Scott Ramirez, dressed in a Star Trek uniform for the Wednesday press conference, also announced that the first season of the cult Sci-Fi series “Star Trek” will be coming to HDDVDin a special boxed set with interactive bonus material Nov. 20.

To take advantage of the release, Toshiba announced a joint promotion with CBS Home Entertainment a free replica “Star Trek phaser” remote that will operate Toshiba HD DVDs to those who purchase both a Toshiba HDDVDplayer and the “Star Trek” boxed set.

Toshiba also said it will be a sponsor of the upcoming season of “Sunday Night Football” on NBC. The sponsorship will focus on HDDVDplayers. The campaign will feature 30 second on-air spots, online advertising, Web-sponsorships promoting the format and on-air educational vignettes.

Meanwhile, Toshiba announced that it will make a hardware update available for its HD-XA2 and HD-A20 second-generation HDDVDplayers, enabling them to output 1080p content at a 24 fps rate.

The HDDVDNorth American Promotional Group also demonstrated here the newly released “Hereos – Season One” HDDVDboxed set ($99.99 suggested retail), which is the first title from Universal Studios Home Entertainment to add Web-enabled interactive bonus features, using Microsoft’s HDi technology.

Ken Graffeo, Universal Studio Home Entertainment HDDVDstrategic marketing executive VP, said downloads from its Web site were up significantly in the first week release of the “Hereos – Season One”DVD, boding well for the enhanced capabilities of the HDDVDversion.

As with other Web-enabled HD DVDs, such as “300” and “Blood Diamond,” extra content in “Hereos” was developed to create “a community” of online enthusiasts, said Kevin Collins, Microsoft HDDVDevangelist and representative of the HDDVDNorth American Promotional Group.

The disc gives users “a genetic abilities test” including a pseudo psychological evaluation using ink spots to group visitors into similar abilities backgrounds.