Toshiba is lowering the entry price to full-HD video with its new HD-A20 HD DVD player, which the company introduced on Sunday at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
The player is the third machine in Toshiba's HD DVD player family and is scheduled to hit U.S. store shelves in the "spring," the company said at a news conference. It will cost around US$600. The other two players in the family, the HD-A2 and HD-XA2 have already been launched and cost around US$500 and US$1,000 respectively.
The main attraction of the HD-A20 will likely be full HD playback of movie titles. The machine supports 1080p (1080 horizontal lines of resolution and progressive scanning) output, which is the highest of several standards that falls within high-definition. Until now 1080p has only been available on the more expensive HD-XA2 model. The cheaper HD-A2 offered 1080i (1080 lines with interlaced scanning).
Many new flat-panel TV sets support 1080p, which is branded "Full HD," and Toshiba hopes the new player will appeal to those with a keen interest in picture quality.
The HD-XA2 still holds several advantages over the HD-A20 including support for a new version of the HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) standard that has wider color support. Dubbed "Deep Color," the function is available on HDMI 1.3 -- a standard that is on its top model. The HD-A20 supports standard HDMI 1.2.
Toshiba said sales plans for Europe and Japan are still under consideration. The company currently sells HD DVD players in the U.S. and Europe, but not in its home market of Japan.