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Media Technology

Toshiba Introduces U.S. First HD DVD Players 323

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-real-than-real dept.
Roy R writes "Toshiba America Consumer Products unveiled today the market launch details for its line-up of the first High Definition DVD players for the U.S. market. The new HD DVD players, models HD-XA1 and HD-A1, will take advantage of the superior capabilities of the HD DVD format. The players will output copy-protected HD content through the HDMI interface in the native format of the HD DVD disc content of either 720p or 1080i."
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Toshiba Introduces U.S. First HD DVD Players

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  • I'm all for it. I just moved from CA to NL and find that I can't play any of my DVD's, that really sucks !!

    anybody have a solution to that I'd be really greatful.

    • Most PC-internal DVD players allow you to change regions 5 times by default.
      External ones, as in for a TV... well, there are ways.
      Try searching for "region free" and your model number.

      Oh, and if a Mr. Valenti or Mr. Cheney call, you don't know me.
    • By NL do you mean The Netherlands? Just get either a step-down adaptor so you can still use your old DVD player, or if that isn't an option, get a Region Free player from somewhere. They start at less than £20 on Amazon UK, so you should be able to find a reasonable one easily enough.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well, why would you want to watch DVDs when you can smoke all the pot you want?

      Oh, wait...
    • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:20AM (#14399464) Homepage
      There are a lot of generic DVD players that will play DVDs of any region, or have firmware upgrades for any region. The Philips DVP642 is cheap, players PAL, NTSC, and I think region free DVDs as well. It also players XviD and DivX movies as well as a few other popular video formats. I bought my friend one for $70, and it was well worth the money.
      • wow, I'm too tired to type. s/players/plays.
      • The Philips DVP642 is cheap, players PAL, NTSC, and I think region free DVDs as well. It also players XviD and DivX movies as well as a few other popular video formats.

        Philips DVP642 is not region-free out of the box but you need to press certain buttons on the remote (with the DVD tray out for some reason) to make it region free. Let me google to find the button combo.
        Ok here are the instructions:
        1. Turn on the player.
        2. Open the tray.
        3. Press the following sequence on the remote:
        7 8 9 OK 0
        4. The
    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:29AM (#14399512) Journal
      ... that you are supposed to buy DVDs, not watch them !
  • by Jason Straight (58248) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:06AM (#14399401) Homepage
    I don't care about being able to play a media there is nothing to play, it would have made more sense to release recorders first so there would actually be some media for the players to play, plus I want to use them for backups. :)
    • I assume you will be using this with the plethora of original HD content you have produced yourself? If not, the only thing this gets you is the ability to store an entire season (or two or three) of a show in H.264/DivX/XviD/whatever format on a single disc. Then there's always the assumption that it will have the appropriate codec to play it (well, it'll definitely do H.264). I'm sure that more rampant piracy is exactly what they media producers want.
  • ...that either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray becomes dominant. What we really don't need is two formats each with exclusive studio deals. I don't want two players...
    • Studios would not do that, even if the people behind one of the formats came up with enough cash it would piss off the consumer too much to make it worth while. Makes much more sense just to release two versions of the same movie on two different formats.
      • But then you really piss off the stores. They don't want to have to have 2 different items to keep track of for each 1 item they have now. Actually, they will still probably sell dvds, so now they will have to have 3 formats of everything available. My guess is that in 6 months, after the release of both technologies, all the players will support both formats, and this will become a completely non-issue. Movie studios will release movies in whichever formats they see fit, and stores will sell whichever
        • so now they will have to have 3 formats of everything available

          You forgot Sony's fantabulous UMD format. So they will have 4 formats of everything.

          Ideal, really. Can't see stores getting annoyed by that.

          (Then again, I fully expect UMD to go the way of pre-recorded Minidisc - let's hope so, anyway.)

    • Re:I really hope... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by leomekenkamp (566309) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:35AM (#14399548)

      I hope neither will become dominant; I hope both will turn out to be big flops that the general public will avoid for all the DRM shit and the possibility of owning yet another betamax or V2000 system.

      People do not want too bloody restrictive DRM, they do not want to make choices like "Shall I buy a player that plays movies from A, B and C or one that plays movies from X, Y and Z?". I hope a big, big flop for both Blue and HD camps will make that pretty clear for both hardware and content producers.

      • by Darth Maul (19860) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @10:13AM (#14399768) Homepage
        If both fail I can assure you it won't be because of DRM. The average Joe doesn't care about DRM. If they hook up their new-fangled HD-DVD player to some old TV that doesn't support the right HDMI copy-protection scheme, and it doesn't work, they will just scratch their heads, blame the generic "technology", and return the player perhaps.

        If both fail, it will simply be because the average Joe will only see a slight incremental improvement over current DVDs. Remember, average Joe thinks that watching a DVD on his new HDTV is "high-definition". I'm serious. There have been polls done, and most people think it's HD. Given that current DVDs are good enough, there is not a significant reason to buy the new HD-DVD. The improvement from VHS to DVD was a huge leap; form factor, no rewinding, no degrading, better detail in the image, better sound. From DVD to HD-DVD I'm afraid the improvement is just not noticeable to the "consumer". Just look at the new CD and audio DVD formats; sure, they have superior sound quality, but they are just a niche market for the few audiophiles that can appreciate that improvement.

        • But if Joe returns the player because it will not connect to his TV, then it will fail because of DRM.

          I do agree with your point that the difference in quality will probably be lost on Joe; except maybe for bragging rights, there is no difference for him.

        • All I'm waiting for is someone to produce a device that intercepts the HDMI signal and strips it of any copy protection bits. You know that someone will make such a dongle soon after HDMI becomes standard, and then we'll again be free to do whatever we want.
          • Re:I really hope... (Score:3, Informative)

            by Ngwenya (147097)

            All I'm waiting for is someone to produce a device that intercepts the HDMI signal and strips it of any copy protection bits.

            You mean like this [engadget.com]?

            --Ng
          • All I'm waiting for is someone to produce a device that intercepts the HDMI signal and strips it of any copy protection bits.

            Then you will be waiting for a long time. It may prove to be lame but it isn't that lame. It is NOT just a few copy protection bits like the Broadcast Flag. It is an encrypted signal. Assuming the system is not flawed like the similar system for encrypting DVDs that would imply that Bluray and HD-DVD discs are not being published in the same sense as books are published. Books are pro
        • You hit on the main thing there: what will kill DRM, if anything does, is when they make it too restrictive, to the point where it interferes with how the general public uses their equipment. For example, I suspect that if iTunes (which I use BTW, so I'm not bashing the technology itself) becomes commonplace, eventually enough people will try to move their music from one computer to another enough times that they run out of legit authorised computers. One at work, one in the home office, two for the kids, a
        • Re:I really hope... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by steve_bryan (2671)
          Remember, average Joe thinks that watching a DVD on his new HDTV is "high-definition". I'm serious. There have been polls done, and most people think it's HD.

          Before you get too snarky about the issue it is worth noting that a DVD played on an HD set using its DVI (or HDMI) interface really is higher resolution than consumers have had available before. It provides 720 x 480 interlaced and in many cases (ie if the source is not a TV program) that can be deinterlaced quite well. If you use an NTSC interface li
    • Why??

      Mpeg4 HD in europe works great and can fit the same HD content on an existing dual layer DVD. Hell there are other great formats that look awesome on a 1080i HT screen that can fit all that media on a standard DVD.

      just because hollywood wants a bastardized mess to force you to buy movies that they can control not only when bot wher and how you watch them does not mean its a good thing.
       
    • And what we need now is an HD-DVD player on the market with no content with BD-DVD content with no player.
  • by giorgiofr (887762) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:09AM (#14399417)
    Begun, the HDMI massacre has.
  • SUPER! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iolaus (704845) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:14AM (#14399438) Homepage
    Thanks Toshiba, glad to hear it will only work with HDMI seeing as how my Toshiba HD-Ready TV only has component connections!
    • Re:SUPER! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by montyzooooma (853414)
      Early adopters of "HD" televisions are screwed because the film studios have insisted on the HDMI interface to preserve their copy protection mechanisms. And because of the digital millenium act a HDMI to component convertor would be illegal in the US.
    • It's for your own protection. Besides, you wouldn't want to see pure digital HD converted to an analog signal before it gets to your TV and...um...gets converted to analog so that you can see it. Oh well, the screwing of the early adopters continues.

      Actually, they'd better get cracking on some HDMI swithcers and HDMI-switching capable amplifiers, 'cause if I'm going to hook up my HD Tivo, a HD-DVD, a DVD jukebox, and my HTPC DVI->HDMI I'm going to need either more TVs in the living room, or a few more in
      • Actually, they'd better get cracking on some HDMI swithcers and HDMI-switching capable amplifiers...

        Several companies are already making these. Here's one [ramelectronics.net] I came across. Of course, the price could stand to come down quite a bit...
    • Re:SUPER! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @10:15AM (#14399786) Homepage
      This is stupid. The only reason that DVD players caught on is because you could hook them up to any old TV. There's still a lot of DVD players hooked up to the old coaxial or RCA (component) sockets. Not a lot of people have the component hook ups. And even a lot of people who have them don't end up using them. If they limit HD DVD players to only hook up to the brand new shiny TVs, then nobody is going to buy the player. I'm sure there's a lot of people who will want to buy these, but if it means buying a new TV on top of that, you will see that it will only fill a niche market.
      • The only reason that DVD players caught on is because you could hook them up to any old TV. There's still a lot of DVD players hooked up to the old coaxial

        Well, buddy, if you've ever seen a DVD player with a coaxial output, you've got me beat. And I've been buying them since 1997.

        -Eric

        • If you're referring to an RF-modulator, then yes, players with them are rare (most of the DVD-recorders I've seen have them though).

          That being said, there are 2 issues here:

          1. People who had Composite input jacks on their TV's were far more common than people who have HDMI inputs now.

          2. If you didn't have the proper inputs, an external RF modulator was only only $20-30. As already mentioned elsewhere in the thread, anything that converts HDMI to analog is going to be illegal in the US, and therefore this o
        • by Phaid (938)
          I have a Samsung DVD/VCR combo which can output the DVD signal through the RF coaxial output. I bought it specifically for this feature, because my kitchen TV was an old 13" with only a coaxial input and I didn't want to mess around with converters or have to worry about Macrovision. So they do in fact exist.
        • I have one sitting in my home right now. I'm not sure if it's called coaxial, but that's what i've always called it. It's the standard cable hook-up that is used when you get cable TV. A lot of players don't have it, but it also isn't hard to find one that does. There's a large variety of players out there.
      • I agree with parent's poster. The number of inputs, especially for hidef devices is a joke.

        Someone like me, I have 1 xbox, 2 ps2 (An american and a Japanese for import games), a dvd player, an SACD player, a VCR, an HDTV via time warner, plus a computer, all going to my projector. I am going to get an xbox360 and probably a PS3 as well. I have components out on pretty much everything + DVI on my HD projector. Wait... DVI! My HDTV set from Time Warner refuses to talk to my projector (Sanyo PVL70) that way. N
        • I think the trick is to shell out a lot of cash for a high end receiver/amplifier. There's 1 digital out that goes to your TV, and if you get a good receiver, you should be able to get one with 7 digital inputs. I know this was the way to do it with the Component hookups. You get a good receiever with 7 component inputs, and everything goes through that. Not sure if this kind of stuff exists with only digital inputs and outputs though.
    • HDTV in a physical medium will always and only use a HDMI connection. While some HD players will support component (and other) connections, the HDTV content will be downscaled to DVD resolution.

      Sucks to be screwed over, eh? :-/
  • A big clunker (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:15AM (#14399445)
    Does anyone else think that picture looks like it is from 1985? Compare it with the first Sony CD player in 1985 - http://history.acusd.edu/gen/recording/images/PDRM 1542a.jpg [acusd.edu]

    It is huge and expensive...I'll wait for it to come down in price and when it can record.
    • Re:A big clunker (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CaseyB (1105) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @10:12AM (#14399758)
      Good god. What possible excuse could they have for making it so huge? This isn't like a VCR where they haven't had a chance to engineer the most compact layout of some complex machinery. It's a plain old disk transport and a bit of decoding electronics -- just like every DVD player already on the shelves.

      They could even have dropped all the DAC hardware, if HDMI is the only output format.

      • Only thing I can think of is cooling problems. They all seem to have fans in them, so they must have massive heatsinks inside as well. Remember the computer burners for blue-ray are the same size as dvd and cd burners but the pc burners don't have decoding hardware, output, or power supplies to worry about.
    • My God, that's the first thing that struck me too. At first I thought it was the two models stacked on top of each other. Man, that sucker is as big as my old 1980 top-loading VCR! I wonder how much it weighs?

      -Eric

  • by djchester (942705) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:24AM (#14399493)
    I want to view my movies directly from my harddrive, when will the movie/media/music industry get it?
    • They do get it. At the BillG keynote last night, they showed an HD-DVD/Vista demo and copied the movie to the hard drive. It's built in to the driver - you can copy either the entire disc image or just the HD movie (without menus, extras, etc.).
  • by larsoncc (461660) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:26AM (#14399499) Homepage
    During the keynotes, Peter Moore announced an external HD-DVD player for the XBox 360 as well.

    No word if the player would be manufactured by Toshiba, though.

    Keynote is here in text form [next-gen.biz].
  • Remember, if you don't have a high-density set that supports the HDMI copy protection standard, this isn't going to do anything. Computer monitors do not count.

    It is also first generation, and very likely to have major electrical problems. Not to mention the player is about the size of an average HDTV set.

    • HDMI to component or unprotected DVI boxes are not uncommon any more.. it's been standard in Europe for a while (indeed in the UK it's illegal to call a TV 'HD Ready' unless it has HDMI (leading to the non-HDMI ones being sold as 'HDTV Ready' instead. Sigh.)).

      They're still relatively expensive, but once the korean production lines start up that price will drop quite fast.
  • I think one of the things that really helped spur on DVD adoption over VHS wasn't the prettier pictures and better sound, it was the fact that you can do much more with a DVD than you ever could with a cassette. You can skip to whatever scene you want, you can access extras, you can change the audio track to your language of choice(if it was on the dvd of course!), you can add subtitles, you can get rid of subtitles, you can hear commentary, you don't have to play with tracking etc.
    The only difference tha

    • I think one of the things that really helped spur on DVD adoption over VHS wasn't the prettier pictures and better sound, it was the fact that you can do much more with a DVD than you ever could with a cassette. You can skip to whatever scene you want, you can access extras,


      Why can't you have extras on VHS?


      you can change the audio track to your language of choice(if it was on the dvd of course!),


      What %age of people do this?

      you can add subtitles, you can get rid of subtitles,

      This is also available on VHS a
      • "This is also available on VHS as "closed captioning"."
        Closed captioning on VHS is a real pain. As a tape ages they get scrambled pretty quickly.
        The real benefits of DVDs are they last longer and you don't have to rewind them.
    • "..to me it just doesn't matter that much, but I am in no way representative of the public at large..."

      You are probably more representative than you know. This is not a VHS vs BETA type BATTLE.

      This is DVD-A vs SACD vs CD type battle. Tell me who one that one DVD-A or SACD? CD of course.

      Same formula, improve quality, add more DRM (Deny Rights Management) and they will beat a path to your door.

  • If they think Im gonna buy a brand new set just to have an HDMI port...
    Wrongo! If they had put an HD signal over component video I would have
    spent the $500 on an HD-DVD player.
  • just wait... (Score:4, Informative)

    by pillbug22 (932903) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @09:55AM (#14399656)
    ...for one that plays both formats

    http://www.aviransplace.com/index.php/archives/200 6/01/05/broadcom-unveils-chip-that-plays-blu-ray-h d-dvd/ [aviransplace.com]

    (apologies if this is already linked)
  • The sooner they start releasing Blu-ray/HD-DVD, the sooner people can get to work on reverse-engineering the encryption and copy-protection so it'll work on linux. From what I've heard about the copy protection, it will definitely be an obstacle, but will be defeated by the bright minds of open-source.

    Will I buy HD-DVD/Blu-ray movies if they aren't supported by open-source at all? I might, but only if releases on regular DVD stop altogether.
    • Speaking as one of the guys who played a part in the original 'make DVDs work on Linux' effort I can definitely say we'd prefer it if we didn't have to sacrifice time, money and girlfriends to watching Chicken Run without rebooting all over again :).
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @10:06AM (#14399731) Homepage
    The players will output copy-protected HD content through the HDMI interface in the native format of the HD DVD disc content of either 720p or 1080i."

    Cue the surge in sales of HDMI to non encumbered output dongles.

    A buddy of mine was showing me the unit he bought to hook his older HD plasma to his new DVD player with HDMI... how long until these older units start going for high $$$ or a company like lite-on or APEX starts creating units that bypass this stupid DRM?
  • 1080p (Score:4, Interesting)

    by osho_gg (652984) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @10:18AM (#14399804)
    What I am really looking forward is 1080p output capable HD-DVD players. 2006 year is going to be the year of 1080p HD Displays. Unfortunately, HDMI (as I understand) as a format does not have 1080p output well-defined (or defined at all for that matter). However, 1080p HD displays offer significantly better picture quality than 1080i/720p displays. Costco is offering a 37" flat screen 1080p for $1600. Other ~60 inches 1080p displays are pulling in under 5k at this time - which means they will "soon" come to under $2.5k budget. Once it reaches at that point, many of early HDTV adopters (about 1 million in US) will be itching to upgrade their gear to 1080p capable display. It would be a shame if HD-DVD players (without any valid technical reason) will limit its output to 1080i.
    • My understanding is that Sony's Blu-Ray players are supposed to all put out 1080p and the content on the discs is supposed to be 1080p. That is the "highER" definition that they were pushing with their conference the other day at CES.

      If you want 1080p, you want Blu-Ray to win.

    • I seriously doubt that Costco tv offers 1080p INPUT. If I remember correctly there is only one tv out now (HP) that offers 1080p input over hdmi. My samsung allows it over vga. The HDMI spec allows 1080p, but no one (expect already mentioned HP) have it setup to accept it.
  • How much? (Score:2, Interesting)

    When DVD players first arrived on the market, I paid $600 for a basic featured player. Now, for under $80 you can get one with progressive scan and can play any digital file format on the market today.

    I won't be fooled again into paying a premium for HD-DVD players.

    First, they are essentially the same technology, simply tweaked to squeeze out more storage space and using a different wavelength of laser. This is hardly technology that required billions or even millions of R&D costs. Like the original
  • New DVDs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hey (83763) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @10:26AM (#14399856) Journal
    So now I gotta buy all new DVDs? ;-(
    Also one word: porn.
    • Re:New DVDs (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jswinth (528529)
      I think each person with a new HD drive will buy about one porn movie, and it would be their last. The ability to see the blades of grass on the soccer field is one thing, but being able to see every pimple on a porn star's behind is probably not going to go over well. Of course, if they bought a porn compilation full of older DVD movie scenes then they only need one.
  • by Richthofen80 (412488) on Thursday January 05, 2006 @10:30AM (#14399878) Homepage
    If their player only outputs HDMI and not component video, then a great deal of first and second gen HDTVs won't be able to use this. I have a first-gen Panasonic Plasma TV that has component only (although they sold an add-on card to do DVI). So I can't use this.
    • >So I can't use this.
      >Reason, free market capitalism, and individualism

      Oh the irony of your sig! As long as they have conservative pro-business types like you to bend over and take it they will keep producing restrictive DRM and incompatible junk as such is the will of a very free market with little to no consumer protections.

      See, this is why so many people don't like to hear the free trader types quote Milton Friedman chapter and verse. Without real protections for the consumer you're getting (and ha
  • The players will output copy-protected HD content through the HDMI interface in the native format of the HD DVD disc content of either 720p or 1080i.
    And the electronics of the TV set will strip out the copy-protection, leaving clean RGB signals available on the CRT's grid drives and the timing information recoverable from the scan coils.
  • According to a company working on this nanotechnology. . Atomic Holographic Optical Storage Nanotechnology will dramatically improve applications like 6,840 raw uncompressed high quality Video/TV hours, or 2,100,000 chest x-rays, or nearly 10,000,000 high-resolution images, or 30,000 four-drawer filing cabinets of documents, or 20,000 DVD'S Worm's , or 4,000 BLU-Ray Worm disk's, or 100 - 100 gigabyte disk drives or 50 Inphase Holographic Disks on ONE 10 Terabyte 3.5 in. removable disc.

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