We're getting ready for Toshiba's press conference at CES 2009 and the biggest question on my mind is: Will anyone talk about the death of HD-DVD? You'll remember that last year, right before Toshiba's 2008 press conference, Warner Brothers announced that it was going exclusively over to Blu-Ray, which effectively signaled the death of HD-DVD.
Throw in a struggling economy and I'm expecting losses for Toshiba over 2008. Hopefully, it will be able to recover as I'm definitely a fan of their televisions and laptops.
Here we go so keep updating. As before, new updates can be found at the bottom of the post.
10:00 AM PT - The press conference is opening with footage of the New Years Eve show from Times Square featuring Toshiba displays and advertisements... and the Jonas Brothers. Nothing says HDTV and technology like the Jonas Brothers.
Yes, that was a very nice mega display in Times Square, but where's my home version?!
President and CEO of Toshiba America, Mr. Akio Ozaka, takes the stage to give an overview of the business in America. He points to Toshiba's "heritage of innovation" and the Regza line of HDTVs for its success. Toshiba will continue to add value for consumers by improving what consumers care about most: video quality.
The Regza brand is "breaking new barriers" in picture quality and convenience and will be giving more thought to cosmetics for home theater setups. Much like LG, Toshiba will be focusing on networked devices to provide Internet content to the user. It is committed to making a change in this area and I look forward to hearing about its approach.
Environmentally, Toshiba plans to be a leader in green technology! Have you sensed a pattern yet? Better looking TVs, network devices, and green technology!
10:10 AM PT - SVP of corporate planning in the digital AV group, Yoshi Uchiyama, is up to talk about Toshiba's performance in 2008. The NPD Group has found that Toshiba holds the number-one position in "TV Combo" marketshare. The new 2009 TV Combos will improve both technologically and cosmetically. All combos will include digital tuners and DVD players (not Blu-Ray!). A new 26-inch model will also be introduced. Black and white models will also be available in 15-inch, 19-inch, and 22-inch combos.
Toshiba will also introduce network devices in 2009 that surface content from Intel and Yahoo! as well as function as a Windows Media Center Extender. The devices will also be expandable to include more content from different producers as deals are made.
Toshiba believes these devices will "act as the hub of [your] home entertainment system." In the second half of 2009, Toshiba will begin to release these new products.
10:17 AM PT - Now up is Scott Ramirez, VP of TV marketing, to talk about the new TVs in 2009. There will be new "non-REGZA" models that hit the "every-day right-price" that do not sacrifice picture quality, but are more affordable. On the other end, there will be "New REGZA", which will be the best of the best.
Scott believes that LCDs are being chosen by consumers over plasma displays when evenly priced. At CES 2008, Toshiba predicted 23 million LCD units sold and that's where we're at now. Someone give their analysts a raise.
Additionally, Toshiba's market share went from four percent to 10 percent, which was its goal for 2008. Is it now number three in LCD TV, but its projections for growth in 2009 have been reduced from double digits to single digits in the recession. Toshiba's key trends for 2009:
- Gradation is the new Black
- 240 is the new 120
- Some will say you can't be too thin, but will people pay for thinner TV's.
- Will people pay for thin in this economy?
- There's no real sales volume over $2500 and 55" TV's
The new AV600 series will come in at 19 inches and 720P featuring PC inputs and a gaming mode. This could be a great display for people that want a dual display without a lot of room.
The AV502 series will continue through 2009 at 26, 32, and 37 inches at 720P, but is a non-REGZA model. Then, the RV525 will hit 40 and 46 inches in 1080p.
10:25 AM PT - Resolution+ and a fifth generation of gradation technology will combine to make lower resolution pictures look like 1080P Full HD pictures. Currently, it is used for upconverting SD content to HD.
In the future, Toshiba will upconvert to 4,000 x 2,000, which clocks in at 3820 x 2160 as displays get bigger to support this resolution.
This picture is four times larger, but there is no content being produced at this resolution. This is where Resolution+ comes in and Toshiba claims it is the only company that currently has the tech to upconvert HD video to 4K x 2K video.
One of the "New REGZA" features will be an improved AutoView, which will auto-adjust the TVs picture settings based on the environment that the TV is in. This includes brightness, contrast, gamma, sharpness and now color temperature.
InstaPort will allow for faster HDMI switching by sending HDCP authorization when the TV is turned on and not when the input is selected.
Some New REGZA models will include Toshiba's move to 240Hz, which it is calling "ClearScan". It will blink the backlight of the TV to make the human eye perceive 2 frames for every 1 frame in video. Toshiba is calling this a 240Hz effect as the display will be 120Hz, but seem like 240Hz.
Instead of adding more speakers and surround sound, Toshiba will be focusing on using Dolby Volume, which will let the user set a consistent volume level and the TV will keep the levels the same as the channels and sources change. This includes bass and treble, not just volume. Very impressive.
Expert Mode will allow for manual settings for a pro-user or a professional AV dude. A USB Port will also be included to look at JPEGs, MP3, and DivX movies, which will run without any additional hardware or software. It will also include an SD card port.
All of these features will come together in the ZV650 series, which comes in at 42, 47, and 55-inch sizes.
Now, the SV670 series is the best of the best and will further improve picture quality. This series will add LED Backlighting with Local Dimming, which is full backlighting and not edge lighting. This helps improve contrast ratio for even better picture quality.
Later in 2009, Toshiba will introduce even more TVs with some of them including networked devices.
10:40 AM PT - Now, "Cell TV"! This is going to use the Cell processor to hit "the top of the top end" with Toshiba making multiple TV's that utilize the Cell Processor. This processor will be housed in a set-top box that acts as a networked HD server that is paired with a top-quality panel to send a picture three times faster than current TV. Toshiba uses this extra time to clean up the picture more and give the best picture quality. It will be available in 2009.
It will also act as a DVR that can record six HD channels simultaneously. Wow. Want. It will also be able to send video to multiple displays at the same time. It will also be able to display enhanced content from other sources like Media Centers, External Hard Drives, and more. Ok, want now.
And its over. For those keeping score, nobody mentioned HD-DVD. I didn't think they would.