It isn’t news that Sony’s Blu-Ray has bested Toshiba’s HD-DVD video format a while ago, and it certainly isn’t news that Toshiba is reeling from the defeat. But I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Toshiba would pull its beaten and bloodied self together and make another affront to Blu-Ray; Toshiba plans to release a “super” DVD player, an upscaling format that promises to deliver Blu-Ray definition out of normal DVDs for quite a few bucks less.
Daily Yomiuri Online and the Associated Press report that that Toshiba’s new format is based on a new technology that incorporates a new “large integrated circuit” which can “instantly convert images produced in the current format into high-resolution images.” As Blu-Ray’s resolution is about 6 times that of standard DVDs, that new circuit must be something special, because Toshiba claims it will be able to compare to Blu-Ray’s quality.
Toshiba plans to release the new players by the end of the year at lower price points than Blu-Ray players, in hopes of hooking customers considering a switch to the HD format. As there is a vastly larger collection of DVDs than Blu-Rays at this point in time, and at cheaper prices than Blu-Ray discs, this technology could potentially sway some customers.
However, as anyone that’s actually owned both an upconverting player and a real high-definition player will know, upconversion doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. As lower resolution formats like DVD have fewer pixels, to create the illusion of high definition, the upconverter simulates pixels that aren’t really there. Generally that results in blur or not-crisp images.
I’ve never been a big proponent of upconverting for that very reason. All that upconverters do is confuse customers who aren’t savvy about the technology and delay progress. If people are buying upconverters, companies like Toshiba are only holding back the advancement of true HD format. All this comes off looking like is a sore loser trying to injure the competition because Toshiba knows it can’t win anymore.