IFA 2008: Toshiba Press Conference

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toshiba-press-conference.jpgGood morning ladies and TD readers and welcome to the Toshiba press conference today coming to you not quite as live as I would’ve liked from Berlin.

So I’ve just sat through a rather lightening speed press conference courtesy of HD-DVD depressed Toshiba who unsurprisingly championing upscaling to a version of HD without, of course, a sniff of a Blu-ray in sight.

Toshiba chief, Alan Thompson, introduced the show outlining the facts that only 2% of households have HD devices and that 99% of TV broadcasts are in SD anyway but Tosh do seem to be admitting that HD is the future though. So, the angle here is that people don’t need Blu-ray discs. All they need is a little help converting the already shoddy transmissions and downloaded media into a higher HD form.

I’ve got to say that when he first mentioned upscaling, I wanted to get up onto the stage and throttle him but, if the stats that he’s taking are true, it would seem to make sense in the the short term at least.

The big growth in the market is supposed to be in internet downloads, so people are going to be after temporary and permanent storage. Sounds reasonable.

People are going to want 1080p HD and even though there are only 2% of Full HD transmissions, they are predicting even higher resolution screens.

Optical drives have reached a 50GB limit – not so sure about that myself – and they’re saying that’s a little restrictive as films are reaching the terabyte capacity. The other option is SD cards. “Who would have thought you could have fitted 35GB on a postage stamp?” he says. Me?

So Toshiba are looking to make HD contents clearer, SD contents nearer HD quality and internet low res solutions a lot better too and all of this is all done through Resolution + and XDE.

“In summary,” says Alan, “we are a technology company and that’s what we are going to focus on, leading innovation. We are going to specifically drive picture quality, focus on digital entertainment and storage solutions.” Jolly good, let’s have it then.

Now it’s Sacha Lange’s turn. He’s the head of marketing and strangely he’s talking about TVs when they seemed to be saying that they weren’t focusing on them.

Toshiba is looking at reducing the power consumption of TVs, which is very noble, and is hoping to bring this down by 80%. They’re going to improve picture quality through semi-conducters and cell technology as well as connectivity through wireless and HDMI and, of course, they’re going to look at screen design as well. Nice.

Cell TV will give better picture quality and it’s software based so it can be added and improved as the market grows, which seems, again, to make a lot of sense but until HD broadcasts increase over the world, then the Toshiba technology to look out for is Resolution +.

Resolution + enhances the detail of picture, it sharpens the edges and finally removes the extraneous errors. It’s all rather classic upscaling stuff but if your not a purist it does sound like a decent way to go in the audio-visual world. The trouble is, there are a lot of purists out there.

Next up are the products themselves and these are to contain Toshiba’s XDE technology, which stands for “eXtended Detail Enhancement”. XDE products have a sharpening mode, just as in Resolution +; they have an intelligent colour system that adds layers of greens and blues and a contrast enhancement that adds layers of light to focus on where the picture is lacking.

The XD-E500 DVD recorder and player is the first of this range to be released. It’ll be out across Europe for a staggeringly reasonable 149 Euros (did I hear that right?) from October and we’ll get a closer look at that in just a sec.

For now, that’s it from Toshiba and, just in case you were wondering, when asked if they were going to sell laptops with and Blu-ray players, the answer was a very firm, “No.”

Daniel Sung