CES 2008: Toshiba

by Nate Marion on January 6, 2008 in Trade Shows

Toshiba may be having a rough time handling their latest HD DVD blow, but other products shown off at their press conference show that things are going well in other areas. New displays were unveiled in addition to a few unique display technologies, including DynaLight and PixelPure.

To put things mildly, life for Toshiba hasn’t been very comfortable in recent days. With FOX and now Warner Brothers declaring plans to support only Blu-ray by the middle of this year, many industry analysts are forecasting an end to the high-definition ‘format war’ in the very near future. Toshiba’s president and CEO, Mr. Akio Ozaka, expressed disappointment at Warner Brother’s decision based on the Q4 2007 sales figures for HD-DVD, which was the strongest sales quarter yet for the format.

Jodi Sally, VP of Marketing, Digital A/V, delivered a very focused speech stating that Toshiba still firmly believes that HD-DVD is the best high-definition format for the consumers, despite what the movie makers may think.

Standardized design specs, particularly Ethernet ports for Wi-Fi and web-enabled connectivity, were the main technical points were Toshiba claimed superiority over Blu-Ray. Unfortunately for Toshiba, consumers don’t seem to value these features as much, because although HD-DVD sales peaked in Q4 2007, Reuters reported that Blu-Ray movies out sold HD-DVD 2:1 for the previous 9 months of 2007, and even with HD-DVD players being offered near $100 less than Blu-ray players, Blu-ray is still winning the sales race.

The mood lightened as the focus of the presentation shifted to Toshiba’s line of LCD televisions.

Toshiba’s slides showed that although overall TV sales are steady, LCD TV’s are becoming the clear favorite over plasmas to the tune of 84% of the LCD and Plasma market. Among the new and improved features talked about were improved Dynalight performance, 4th generation PixelPure technology, a ‘gaming mode’ that makes a difference, 120Hz refresh rates, and our personal favorite, smaller bezels!

Dynalight allows certain ‘zones’ of LEDs to be dynamically dimmed in order to produce truer black levels and greatly improve the contrast ratio in darker scenes. This feature will be included on all new Toshiba models, all of which are scheduled to hit the shelves in the April-May time frame.

PixelPure is Toshiba’s method of sharpening color gradients to improve overall picture quality.

Toshiba’s ‘Gaming Mode’, included on all Regza models, allows users to completely circumvent Toshiba’s image enhancing processing in order to put frames on the screen faster, resulting in noticeably less control lag for high-intensity gaming.

120Hz refresh rates are beginning to be offered by many TV manufacturers, and Toshiba advertised their motion interpolation along with the improved refresh rates to offer a clearer, blur-free picture.

Finally, Toshiba’s new Cinema series will use smaller bezels to provide customers with more viewable area in a given wall space. Aside from the obvious aesthetic benefits, those of you with entertainment cabinets that are starting to feel increasingly restrictive will be especially glad to see this change.

We were impressed with the visual quality of the panels shown, and pleased with the direction that Toshiba is taking with respect to designing their televisions. Whatever shakes out with the format war, Toshiba definitely has what it takes to effectively compete for a place in our home theater experience. We’ll leave you with a couple pictures of the panels being displayed.

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