Earlier today, Toshiba became the first consumer electronics manufacturer to announce second-generation high-def disc players, unveiling its HD-A2 and HD-XA2 models amid a flurry of new format announcements at the CEDIA Expo 2006, held in Los Angeles.
The new flagship of Toshiba's HD DVD player offerings, the top-of-the-line HD-XA2 will output full 1080p video, the highest HD signal currently available. The HD-XA2 will also be one of the first next generation players to support the video portion of HDMI version 1.3, including new "Deep Color" 36-bit (RGB or YCbCr) color reproduction, up from the 24-bit depths in previous versions of the HDMI specification.
Other highlights of the HD-XA2 include a 297MHz/12bit video digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with 4x oversampling for increased bandwidth for true playback of an HD picture to a video source, plus extensive user adjustable settings for color, contrast, brightness, edge enhancement and block noise, among others.
Both the HD-XA2 ($999 MSRP) and the entry-level HD-A2 ($499 MSRP) also support up to 5.1 channels of 24-bit/96kHz audio, and each features built-in multi-channel decoders for the Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD (5.1 channel), DTS and DTS-HD (core only) audio formats.
Toshiba's unveiling came as a surprise to many in the industry and most early adopters. Unlike most major product announcements, there were no early internet or media leaks of the news, and just a few weeks ago, Toshiba had publicly denied it was planning to introduce any new HD DVD player models before early 2007.
But with HD DVD continuing to outpace Blu-ray in terms overall hardware and software sales, Toshiba's second-gen decks will certainly put further pressure on its rivals to deliver high-performance hardware at more affordable prices.
Stay tuned, the format war is only just starting to heat up!