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Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Toshiba Unveils Laptop with High Def DVD and TV

Toshiba on Wednesday unveiled the first high definition laptop computer with a HD DVD optical drive for the new generation of DVD disks and a high resolution display.

The Qosmio G30 notebook, initially announced at last year's CES and now showcased at the CeBIT electronics trade fair at Hannover, Germany, is the latest model under Toshiba's Qosmio range of high-end audio-video computers.

The computer will retail for a price between 2,500 and 3,500 euros and will be available in all countries within a few weeks, said Oscar Koenders, European computer marketing manager at Toshiba.

The G30's built-in HD DVD drive is expected to be region-free, which means that the drive will not check for region encoding, allowing it to play HD DVDs bought in the US and elsewhere. Actually, the HD DVD regional coding has not yest been decided, and the first releases will not feature any regional restrictions.

The G30 incorporates an HDCP-compliant HDMI output port and a 17in 1920 x 1200 TruBrite LCD screen ready for 1080p HD content. The display is driven by an Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 graphics chip with 256MB of video RAM. The notebook has a 2GHz Core Duo T2500 processor on board, 1GB of DDR 2 SDRAM, an 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi radio and Bluetooth 2.0.

It has also twin analogue and digital TV tuners, a Dolby Home Theater-certified audio system based on Dolby virtual speaker technology, Dolby Pro Logic II decoding and Harman Kardon speakers.

The Toshiba's notebook is another weapon in the emerging multi-billion dollar battle for the next DVD standard.

Blu-ray claims it offers higher capacity, up to 50 Gigabytes for a dual layer disk which is not yet on offer, while HD DVD claims it offers a cheaper system which is compatible with the current DVD standard which was set in 1995.

The first HD DVD players will be available first. Players and disks are scheduled for introduction this month.

"We think we can offer a player at 499 euros. To me it looks like we're a year ahead," Koenders said.

The first Blu-ray machines, announced by Samsung, Philips and Sony, will be roughly two to three times more expensive and most producers expect commercial introductions in the second half of the year. Samsung plans to sell its first player in May.

Blu-ray disks with pre-recorded movies will start selling in May at a price 20 percent above current DVD new release prices.

Support of the Hollywood studios is important, but the studios have told Toshiba that they in turn look to see which format gets the support from the computer industry.

"DVD (in the 1990s) picked up once the personal computer industry adpted it," Koenders said.

The world's biggest computer maker Dell supports Blu-ray, but No. 2 Hewlett-Packard recently decided to also support HD DVD, whereas it earlier backed only Blu-ray.

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