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High-Def Battle Moves to CEDIA

14 Sep, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Encouraged by the successful launch in April of about 25,000 HD DVD players, Toshiba America Consumer Products Sept. 14 unveiled the HD-A2 and HD-XA2 second-generation models at the CEDIA Expo 2006 confab in Denver.

The new, sleeker black units, which are slated to launch at retail in October (HD-A2) and December (HD-AX2) for $499 (the current A1 price) and $999, respectively, will include increased bandwidth speed and improved color enhancement, according to Toshiba.

The HD-XA2 incorporates a picture setting function that allows users to optimize the picture quality, including color, contrast, brightness, edge enhancement and noise blocking.

The HD-A1, like the XA2, will offer an improved remote control design and faster disc-load time more comparable to standard DVD.

“We are very pleased with the launch of our players and the progress we have made in the past six months,” said Jodi Sally, VP of marketing for TACP, in a statement.

Separately, rival Blu-ray Disc backer Samsung Electronics next month will begin offering online free firmware upgrades for its $1,000 BD-P1000 Blu-ray Disc player.

The upgrade, which is being incorporated in current unit production runs, is expected to improve picture quality and will add Java title compatibility to coincide with the launch of BD Java titles being released this fall.

The upgrade will be available in the last week of October as a download at Samsung.com or on a hard disc by calling 800/726-7864.

Finally, the North American HD DVD Promotion Group launched its 10-city promotional tour that features an 18-wheeler outfitted with HD DVD products and displays showcasing content from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video and Paramount Home Entertainment.

“The reviews are in and HD DVD is hands down the leader in picture quality, audio experiences and interactive capabilities,” said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “Look at the blogs, look at the reviews by the early adopters and even the mainstream media — HD DVD has maintained its first-to-market advantage.”

Niveus Media Inc. bowed its Rainer Edition HD DVD-enabled home PC media center. The $4,500 system includes four TV monitors, 3TB of storage, 4GB of memory and an 8-channel audio system.

THX Ltd., the post-production film unit owned by Star Wars director George Lucas, unveiled a certification program for HDTVs, HD displays, LCD, Plasma and front-and-rear projection devices.

The standard is seen as a way for consumers to evaluate whether the HD display or HDTV they are considering purchasing can present all HD and standard definition content at maximum resolution with the minimum correct color and luminance level.

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