Toshiba unveils future Regza LCD upgrades, and the future of their HDTVs: Cell TV

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From the very first moments of the Toshiba press conference it’s clear there’s going to be little on offer HDTV. The stage is set with a quartet of hooded television models; the press conference starts with a two minute tribute by Toshiba to their 51 by 52 foot Times Square LED. Televisions are the story of the day… in particular, Toshiba’s expanded line of Regza LCDs.

The walkaway is that Regza line will be improving drastically in 2009. The new Regzas will feature Resolution+ technology which Toshiba claims will upscale any content without artifacting. Their new line of LCDs will feature auto-adjusting room brightness, as well as color temperature control… a smart feature that adjusts the display according to the hue of your light bulbs.

Like LG, Toshiba promises that their new Regzas will be capable of eliminating motion blur by upping the ante to 240Hz. Unlike LG, Toshiba isn’t being cagey about the technology: by rapidly flickering the backlight, the new Regzas will fake the effect of a higher frame rate, essentially fooling the eye into thinking it is seeing double the FPS… and thus less motion blur.

In addition, the new Regzas will feature Dolby technology to dynamically balance volume while maintaining bass and treble. New televisions will also feature built-in USB ports and SD card slots, as well as ingrained JPEG, DivX, and MP3 playback. Instaport technology will also allow instantaneous HDMI switching.

Like every other television company, expandable internet content is at the front of the cerebellum for Toshiba. They announced that their LCD televisions this year will come with expandable Internet media thanks to integration with Windows Media Center and Yahoo! Widgets. Examples of online functionality to be included in Toshiba LCD TVs this year include MySpace, online music, photos and Internet television sites like Hulu.com. All of these would be navigable via remote control.

Looking to the future, Toshiba foresees that within a few years, 3820×2160 will be the new 1080p. Televisions will need to become far beefier in order to upscale and flawlessly convert lower resolution media. Toshiba’s solution is interesting: they foresee the separation of the mind of a television with its display. Or, more plainly, they envision a more traditional PC dichotomy of CPU to screen applying to the higher-end HDTV of the future.

Toshiba will market its first foray into separating the television from the LCD display later in 2009. The Cell TV takes its name from the included Cell processor, and works as both an upscaler three times as fast as Toshiba’s current Resolution+ technology, but also as an HD server with integrated network capability, capable of recording or displaying six HD images simultaneously.

Some interesting predictions from Toshiba. The future of high definition as 2160p. The future separation of the television into the dichotomy of a powerful computer and a relatively brainless display. Those are bold predictions, but Toshiba doesn’t seem to be toking. Consider this refreshing observation about the fetishization of LCD thinness, buried as a trailing bullet point in a list of market factors for 2009:

“Some will say you can’t be too thin… but will people pay for thin? Who is complaining about LCD depth?”

That’s the common sense observation of a company with its head screwed on right.

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