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Toshiba's Next-Generation High-Definition DVD Player Prototype Secures Backward Compatibility with Current DVD discs

7 January, 2004

New single-head optical pick-up mechanism supports integrated
player that plays current and next-generation DVDs

Toshiba's Next-Generation High-Definition DVD Player Prototype Secures Backward Compatibility with Current DVD discs

Tokyo -- Toshiba Corporation today announced development of a prototype high-definition DVD player that can play high-definition DVD discs and current DVDs. The player features a single-lens optical head mechanism that integrates both red and blue laser diodes, assuring support for both the next-generation “HD DVD-ROM” format (version 0.9) recently approved by the DVD Forum and backward compatibility with today's DVD ROM discs. The new player points the way to a commercial product that will allow fans of DVD to enjoy the richer image quality of HD DVD while protecting their current investment in DVD software libraries.

Toshiba has recently made a series of crucial innovations in support of commercial development of next generation HD DVD drives and players.

The latest prototype dual-compatibility player incorporates an optical pick-up head integrating both a red laser diode for standard DVD discs and a blue laser diode for HD DVD, along with a single objective lens that works with both. This advance achieves the functionality and compactness required for consumer-use HD DVD, and is also more economical than dual-lens head or dual optical heads that require two separate lenses for each laser diode.

Toshiba has also developed a new LSI chipset for HD DVD that brings together the servo controller, data signal processor and ATAPI interface. This too represents a long step toward achieving practical, commercial HD DVD equipment, and will promote development of more compact products.

Toshiba will demonstrate this latest prototype HD DVD player and an recordable HD DVD drive equipped with the new LSI chipset at the International CES 2004 (Booth#12214), from January 8 to 11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.


As the DVD market continues to record substantial year-on-year growth and increasing penetration into the digital consumer, computer and entertainment arenas, moves are under way to promote DVD's evolution to next-generation hardware and software suited to high-definition TV and content. Digital broadcasting is on its way to becoming a global phenomenon, and large-sized flat panel display TVs enjoy increasing popularity. These moves herald demand for advanced DVD formats that will capture the superb picture quality of high-definition content with a vertical picture resolution almost double that of present TVs.

In August 2002, Toshiba and NEC jointly proposed a next generation HD DVD format to the DVD Forum, the international association of over 200 companies, consumer electronics manufacturers, disc makers and movie studios among them, that defines DVD formats. After extensive consideration, the Forum gave approval in November last year for the HD DVD-ROM specifications (version 0.9) to proceed and be finalized as a next-generation standard.

Superb backward compatibility of HD DVD with current DVD

HD DVD utilizes a blue laser and a 120mm-diameter disc that can record over two hours of high-definition movie content. A dual-layer, single-sided read-only disc offers a large 30GB capacity, while a single-layer single-sided rewritable disc has a capacity of 20GB. A dual-layer single-sided rewritable disc with a capacity surpassing 32GB is now targeted.

The HD DVD format is designed to promote maximum compatibility with current DVD standards. It utilizes the same back-to-back bonding of two 0.6mm thick, 120mm-diameter substrates, a disc structure that allows manufacturers of current DVD discs to utilize current production equipment and so minimize new investment. The format is also PC-friendly, as it does not need a cartridge – an essential feature for slim drives.

The common 0.6mm bonded disc structure allows realization of an optical pick-up head that can control laser beams with different wavelengths with a single objective lens; the blue laser beam for HD DVD and the red laser beam for current DVD. Toshiba's development of a single lens, dual-beam pick-up head provides manufacturers with an essential element for achieving compact, cost-efficient players that win consumer support.

“We have achieved a major milestone in development of HD DVD,” said Hisashi Yamada, Chief Fellow of Technology at Toshiba's Digital Media Network Company, “and we feel confident that development of HD DVD is steadily and rapidly in progress.

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