Toshiba introduces Media Extender HDTVs

Toshiba introduces Media Extender HDTVs

This is one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen so far this year. Toshiba is introducing flat panel HDTVs and DVD players which have Microsoft’s Windows Extender for Media Center on board. This will allow you to have multiple TVs in your home connected via ethernet to a central Media Center PC to share content, including high-def cable or satellite, ripped DVDs, internet video, etc.

Press release follows:

Toshiba logo

CES, LAS VEGAS – January 7, 2009 – Toshiba America Consumer Products, L.L.C. (“Toshiba”), announced its new audio/video (A/V) devices with Network Player capabilities, which deliver on the promise of digital convergence in the home. Toshiba is launching this initiative across three product categories – REGZA® LCD TVs, LCD TV/DVD Combos and standalone players – in an effort to meet individual consumer needs.

Toshiba’s new A/V devices offer consumers access to a diverse range of rich content over the Internet. With an extensive library of TV shows and movies, music, sports, and information services such as stock prices and weather forecasts at their fingertips, consumers will be provided with greater flexibility to easily customize and enhance their entertainment experience.

“Toshiba took the initiative to bridge the ways consumers normally access Internet content and entertainment media with the introduction of network devices that will bring the Internet experience to consumer electronic products in the home,” said Yoshi Uchiyama, Senior Vice President, Corporate Planning. “According to a recent study conducted by NPD for Toshiba, a large majority of consumers cite simplicity as the essential issue for adoption of Internet content. Therefore, key to Toshiba’s home network strategy is a focus on simplicity – making it simple to connect, simple to operate and simple to access content. The new line of Toshiba AV devices with Network Players will open up an entire new world of content delivery in a way that consumers will like.”

Getting Connected

Toshiba’s A/V devices with network player capabilities use a combination of two core components, including the Widget Channel, developed by Intel and Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Extender for Windows Media Center.

While consumers may be familiar with widgets from the PC world, TV Widgets, enabled by the Widget Channel framework, now take that simple to use “dashboard” experience and place it into the TV allowing consumers direct access to numerous sources of content simply via their remote control. While some TV Widgets may be pre-installed, consumers now also have the flexibility to customize their experience by adding widgets of their own selection based on their interests or needs. TV Widgets will feature a rich array of content and as more TV Widgets become available, consumers can add them to the Network Players to enhance their assortment.

By integrating Extenders for Windows Media Center in Toshiba’s new A/V products with Network Player capabilities, the devices will act as “hubs” for delivery of content anywhere in the home. Using a home network, Extender for Windows Media Center technology allows users to access a wide range of digital content from Windows Media Center on the PC to their big screen TV. Windows Media Center also delivers an extensive amount of Internet TV and movie content, live and recorded TV with the addition of a TV tuner, plus photos, music, home videos and more.

The combination of the two software platforms in one hardware device will deliver on the promise of the new digital lifestyle.

Toshiba will approach the market by offering several choices from which consumers can select the product that best fits their particular needs.

The Network Player capabilities described above are scheduled to be built into certain models of Toshiba’s REGZA LCD TVs. This will provide consumers with easy access to the rich media experience without the need for an external set top box or device.

As the market leader in the LCD TV/DVD Combo category, Toshiba will also integrate the Network Player capability to offer flexibility and simplicity for consumers whether they choose to use it as a primary TV in the home or in the bedroom, kitchen or children’s room.

Toshiba will also develop a standalone player, which acts as a hub for content delivery into the entertainment space. The new player can deliver content directly from the Internet, content from the PC with Extenders for Windows Media Center or from its built in DVD player with 1080p upconversion. With an SD card slot and USB port for added flexibility, the device allows consumers to access their entertainment content in any room of the house and all at a value that consumers have come to expect.

Toshiba’s A/V devices with Network Player capabilities will feature picture quality enhancement technologies, allowing viewers to enjoy a wide range of content upconverted to near HD quality. The new models are planned to ship in the second half of 2009, and product pricing and availability will be announced later this year.

About Steven Kippel

Steven Kippel has worked as a systems designer for a leading high-end audio/video custom integrator in Southern California since 2003. He is responsible for researching new technologies and integrating them into existing systems and new construction projects. He has designed several high-profile systems for discriminating clients on the cutting-edge of technology. When he is not hard at work, Steven is spending time with his wife, playing with his band or promoting concerts and bands in the Inland Empire. His favorite bands include The Cure, U2, Eisley, Living Sacrifice and DragonForce.

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