Toshiba launches first DVD player with XDE video enhancement technology. Will it sell?

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toshiba_xde_dvd_player.jpgJust a couple of months ago, Toshiba announced new upscaling technology which the company claimed would rival Blu-ray, building a system in to the latest Qosmio notebooks.

We’ve heard nothing more since, expecting more details at IFA, but today Toshiba has announced a new upconverting DVD player with XDE Technology.

It’s not immediately obvious whether “eXtended Detail Enhancement” is exactly the same system that Toshiba talked about back in June, but given its feature set, it’s highly likely.

XDE upscales standard DVDs from 480i or 480p to 1080p, yes, but also offers the viewer three selectable picture enhancement modes. Here’s what Toshiba says they can do:

Sharp Mode improves video detail, with XDE sharpening edges by analysing the whole picture and only adding where it’s necessary.

Colour Mode increases the richness of colours, particularly blues and greens, and combines this with image sharpening.

Contrast Mode attempts to make darker scenes more easily visible without washing out the picture, and combines with Sharp Mode.

The XD-E500 is Toshiba’s first upscaling DVD player to feature XDE technology, and has just launched in the US priced at $149.99. No word on a UK launch or price yet, but I’d expect to see it for around £100.

As with all new technology, how successful it becomes will depend upon a careful blend of price, marketing, press and consumer buzz, as well as how good the system really is.

Toshiba has been looking for something to rival Blu-ray since the demise of HD DVD, but I think XDE could struggle in the no man’s land between standard DVD players and Blu-ray players.

The price puts it way above that of a standard DVD player, yet it costs little less than an entry level Blu-ray player. Is Toshiba’s technology better at improving the quality of standard definition DVDs than Blu-ray’s upscaling features? If so, it might stand a chance with videophiles, but regular consumers looking to upgrade may simply opt for a Blu-ray player.

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Andy Merrett