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Toshiba brings HD DVD to Middle East

Toshiba Computer Systems Middle East today launched the region’s first HD DVD-ready notebook computer, the Qosmio G30.

Toshiba Computer Systems Middle East today launched the region’s first HD DVD-ready notebook computer, the Qosmio G30.

High definition (HD) DVD is the next-generation movie format developed by the DVD Forum, a group of companies that includes Toshiba, Microsoft and Intel.

Compared to current, standard-definition DVD, HD DVD offers improved picture clarity, much enhanced colour saturation, and a host of new feature possibilities such as mid-movie menu access (which doesn’t stop the on-screen action) and audio and video movie commentaries that can, if need be, include illustrative examples and on-screen drawing.

Two versions of the Qosmio G30 will be sold across the Middle East from next month; one of these is built around a 17-inch LCD display and the other offers a smaller 15-inch screen. Both run Microsoft’s Windows Media Center operating system and are powered by Intel’s new Core Duo dual-core CPU technology.

“We’re the first company to bring HD DVD-ready notebooks out, and we reckon this gives us a six to nine month lead over the competition,” said Manuel Linning, EMEA director of analyst and press relations for Toshiba Europe’s Computer Systems Division.

According to Ahmed Khalil, general manager of Toshiba’s computer systems division here in the Middle East, the firm’s G30 machines should go on sale next month at premium price points of approximately 11,500AED (US $3133) and 7500AED (US $2044) respectively.

Khalil today justified these relatively high notebook prices by explaining that the firm’s Qosmio models are positioned not merely as mobile PC products, but all-round entertainment solutions, designed for use in digital living rooms.

Although released onto the market first, HD DVD technology will – in the near future – go head to head with Blu-ray, a competing technology developed by a group of companies that includes Sony, Samsung, Philips and several more.

In terms of the disc media on which both technologies run, HD DVD media looks likely to hold the least content (15Gbyte single layer and 30Gbyte dual-layer media versions have so far been authorised), compared to Blu-ray’s expected higher volumes of up to 100Gbytes. However, Toshiba’s Linning today offered the point that there is a limit to how many extra movie features can be added to a film. He also added that HD DVD media offers greater flexibility than Blu-ray, insofar as HD DVD discs will play on standard definition DVD players (at standard DVD definition), and vice versa, whereas Blu-ray media won’t.

Hollywood movie studios are expected to start offering HD DVDs for sale from next month. Linning today explained that these discs will probably not be region-coded and thus watchable on HD DVD players – such as the new Qosmio – in this region. As for broadcasters airing HD programmes, some in Europe are now beginning to broadcast in high definition and this year’s football World Cup in Germany for instance is expected to be largely transmitted in HD. At the time of writing, no details of HD programming in the Middle East were available.

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