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Toshiba pitches HD DVD players as... DVD machines

So why buy HD DVD discs then?

Toshiba HD-XE1 HD DVD player

A week after the battle with Blu-ray Disc swung further toward that rival format, Toshiba said it will promote its players on their ability to upscale standard-definition content for HDTVs.

"Major initiatives... are designed to spotlight the superior benefits of HD DVD as well as the benefits HD DVD brings to a consumer’s current DVD library by upconverting standard DVDs via the HDMI output to near high-def picture quality," the company said.

"With DVD upconversion via the HDMI output, HD DVD players instantly make a movie lover's existing DVD library look better than ever," it claimed.

Toshiba's players have always done a good job upscaling DVD content, and while the consumer electronics giant has never ignored that feature, we don't recall it ever making such a big deal about it.

Some may see the move as a sign of Toshiba's desperation, but it's actually a smart strategy to pursue as the HD disc market moves beyond the early adopter into the mainstream. In December 2007, US market watcher The Diffusion Group forecast big demand for HD DVD among "second-wave" consumers who already own an HD TV but not a hi-def player, and among folk who have yet to get a flat-panel display.

These folk are certainly going to be keener to buy product that allows them to replace an existing DVD player and bring their library with them than to simply add another player to the AV stack.

The danger is that while this approach may boost sales of HD DVD players, it doesn't necessarily encourage the uptake of HD DVDs themselves. Why buy a movie on HD DVD if the DVD's much cheaper and your player makes it look almost as good as the pricier product?

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