Toshiba tries to bounce back from HD DVD blow

Toshiba showed us its new ZF Series LCD TVs

Toshiba is attempting to put events of the past week behind it, giving scant regard to HD DVD as part of its 2008 UK product showcase. It prefers to deal with forthcoming products instead.

HD DVD Promotion Group spokesman Olivier Van Wynendaele made short shrift of the subject in an opening Q&A that dealt with the most obvious questions from the assembled print journalists - questions Van Wynendaele has already answered in his interview with TechRadar earlier this week.

From then on the subject was dead - Toshiba UK MD Andy Bass joked that Toshiba employees would answer no further questions about HD DVD. And the product launch then moved on to the real highlights of the event

Flat panel TV

Toshiba has two new ranges for 2008: the CV series, which replaces last year’s C series sets, and features 1366 x 768p (WXGA) picture resolutions at “an entry level price”. The sets will be available almost immediately in 32-inch, 37-inch and 42-inch guises. Each set features 3x HDMI ports, and has a contrast ratio in excess of 30,000:1.

Joining it is the XV series - another range of entry-level sets, this time offering 1080p Full HD, and screen sizes also in the 32-inch to 42-inch range. The XV series replace last year’s X series TVs.

Key features of both ranges include proprietary technology called Luma Sens, which measures ambient light conditions and then automatically adjusts the picture to improve contrast, colour and the amount of detail on display.

Also new is a Game Mode, which gives you 1:1 pixel mapping for high-def games consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, giving you a truer depiction of what’s happening onscreen. Team this with Game Mode’s brightness adjustments and an increased response time and you’re much more likely to survive intense in-game battles such as those of Call Of Duty 4, Toshiba claims.

The biggest innovation of all though is also the most banal. Conscious of promoting its eco credentials, Toshiba has introduced a ‘Full Power Down’ mode, which is really just an on /off button.

However Toshiba recommends that you really do leave the TV on standby (where it consumes 0.7W/h) so that the built-in digital tuner can pick up electronic program guide (EPG) updates. The on /off switch is really only useful then for extended periods away, like a holiday.

And as a final eco point - Tosh is saying that all its TVs below 43-inches in sizes meet Energy Saving Trust requirements. And that even TVs above that size still consume less than 1W on standby.

ZF Series LCD TVs

Perhaps the most impressive of all the TVs Toshiba showed off today were those of the ZF series - not least because the ZF range also contains its biggest sets at 42-inches, 46-inches and 52-inches. Naturally all the sets include 100Hz digital scan, 1080p Full HD and have the slimmest bezel (that’s the frame around the edge of display itself) of any set you can buy in the shops - just 23mm.

Toshiba also previewed a new HD upscaling technology for standard definition (SD) broadcasts, which works in a similar way to the video upscalers found in many current DVD players. Toshiba says the technology will come to its flagship TVs ‘very soon’, but that a decision on precise timing for launch has yet to be confirmed.

Toshiba choose its UK product launch to announce a complete new range of DVD players and recorders, camcorders and digital photo frames as well. More details on these coming up.