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Toshiba Bows 'Enhanced Picture' Upconverting DVD Player

18 Aug, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The XD-E500

Toshiba Corp. of America Aug. 18 launched a new upconverting DVD player that some believe marks the Japanese consumer electronics manufacturerÆs latest effort to combat next-generation packaged media format Blu-ray Disc.

Toshiba, which backed the failed HD DVD format, said the $149.99 XD-E500 player differs from its other upconverting players (priced from $79.99) by letting users manually upgrade the detail, color and contrast of their DVD movies.

As with most upconverting players, the XD-E500 increases picture resolution from 480i/p to 1080p.

Louis Masses, director of product planning, Toshiba America Consumer Products LLC, said the XDE is not meant to compete with Blu-ray for the HD market since it is not a native 1080p high-def player, but rather, an upconverting DVD player with extended visual enhancement features.

ôAs the market grows toward high definition, XDE lets [consumers] experience their existing DVD library and tens of thousands of DVD titles in a whole new way,ö Masses said.

Andy Parsons, SVP of advanced product development at Pioneer Electronics and chair of the BDA promotion committee for the United States, said there was no question DVD continued to have a strong market presence, with hardware companies refining their standard-definition products for better performance.

ôBut DVD is not a high-definition format, no matter what is done to the output signal,ö Parsons said.

He said that by comparison, Blu-ray is a clean-sheet design that has 1080p resolution at its core, with five times more picture information and a better interactive experience than DVD.

ôUpconverting players can certainly make DVDs look better, but when you want true high-definition performance, we think Blu-ray is the only way to go,ö Parsons said.

Toshiba plans an extensive consumer campaign, including a Web site, beginning this week with the ongoing Beijing Summer Olympics in China.

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