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Toshiba president on HD DVD: "I didn't think we stood a chance after Warner left us"

The high-definition format war was one that burned hot, but faded out fast. Although some were expecting HD DVD to continue to fight the good fight for a while longer, Toshiba threw in the towel on February 19 when it announced that it would discontinue manufacture of its HD DVD players.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, president and CEO of Toshiba Corporation Atsutoshi Nishida shared several of his thoughts during the final weeks of the HD DVD.

When asked when he first started considering Toshiba’s withdrawal from the format war, Nishida pointed to Warner Bros.’ announcement of Blu-ray Disc allegiance just before CES as the crucial point.

“We took a little time before reaching a final decision, so we could give people a chance to voice their opinions and we could consider all the ramifications and consequences of pulling out, such as how it would affect consumers and us,” said Nishida. “I didn't think we stood a chance after Warner left us because it meant HD DVD would have just 20% to 30% of software market share.”

While some may view the fall of HD DVD as a black eye on Toshiba, Nishida takes a more logical stance on the matter. “One has to take calculated risks in business, but it's also important to switch gears immediately if you think your decision was wrong. We were doing this to win, and if we weren't going to win then we had to pull out, especially since consumers were already asking for a single standard,” he said.

With HD DVD hardware production officially ceased at Toshiba, the Japanese electronics company has one less growth product in its roster. But Nishida isn’t worried, he said, “It was just one avenue of growth. It was one of 45 strategic business units that we have. This just means we now have 44.”

Although the battle for high-definition supremacy was highly publicized, the mainstream consumer still spends the majority of his or her entertainment dollar on regular DVDs.

“What people don't realize is that Hollywood studios are going to release new titles not just for Blu-ray but for standard DVDs as well, and there are a far greater number of current-generation DVD players out there,” Nishida said.

During the one of the final advertising pushes for HD DVD in North America, Toshiba advertised that its HD DVD players also function as upconversion hardware to scale regular 480p DVDs up to 1080i/p – a point that Nishida clings on to. Toshiba has expressed no plans to make any Blu-ray Disc hardware.

“If you watch standard DVDs on our players, the images are of very high quality because they include an "upconverting" feature. And we're going to improve this even more, so that consumers won't be able to tell the difference from HD DVD images,” the Toshiba leader said. “The players would be much cheaper than Blu-ray players too. Next-generation DVD players are in a much weaker position than when standard DVD players were first introduced.”

To be sure, upscaling does improve the presentation of standard DVD, especially on a high-end player such as the Toshiba HD-XA2 with its REON chip; but a 1080p-encoded HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc offers six times the resolution of a DVD – something that is clearly noticeable on larger displays.

In the heat of the battle, industry figures such as Hollywood director Michael Bay and 20th Century Fox president Mike Dunn theorized that Microsoft was looking past HD DVD and towards digital downloads. When asked if Toshiba would put its efforts behind video downloads, Nishida responded, “That's what we're hoping. We've been developing technologies in this area already, but now that we don't have the HD DVD business, I want to put even more energy into that.”

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Kudos to Toshiba.
By Mitch101 on 3/5/2008 9:39:31 AM , Rating: 4
Toshiba took the loss to Blu-Ray like a man and I have to commend them for it. They could have tried dragging things on but knew when they were defeated and conceded. Toshiba makes a solid product and surely one should keep an eye on them to see what they do next. I love my Toshiba HDTV its still kicking a better picture than a lot of HD sets out there today.

As for HD I went with a Direct TB HR21 DVR which direct Tv gave to me for free with 1 years free HD service. Since this I cant say I am interested in buying HD or DVD movies any more. Extra content was never my thing.

I'm not sure that download is the next frontier as its easy enough to use the DVR to record a PPV and not waste any bandwith in the process.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By 16nm on 3/5/2008 9:48:05 AM , Rating: 2
If you think direct tv hd is nice then you should give broadcast 1080 a chance. Assuming you have a 1080 LCD TV then I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the improved definition over that of Direct TV. Just stay away from cable.

(HD-DVD == Bluray) > Broadcast > Direct TV > Cable > DVD

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Locutus465 on 3/5/2008 10:19:58 AM , Rating: 2
Right now I have TWC HD for my main TV viewing, and Media center running on my desktop with a cheap USB ATCS tuner attached. I have to say that over all I'm quite pleased with the quality of broad cast played through my x-box as an extender (and my TV is 720P). Next tueday (11th) I'm going to be switching to Directv so I can get better HD content.

HD on TWC is such a scam, they padd their 100 channel range with multiple PBS stations, several standard def ATSC stations, and some premium stations that you (obviously) don't get with a standard HD package. With directv I'll be getting Sci-fi, Discovery, History and many many many other stations I actually watch in HD, and I'll still be getting all my local HD content.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Mitch101 on 3/5/2008 11:17:15 AM , Rating: 2
I use an HDTV tuner in a MCE box but am limited to local OTA channels with it. Unfortunately I cant watch HD locals then try watching Stargate in SD so I was forced to upgrade. Not much twisting involved.

My local cable also TWC pathetically doesn't offer all the locals in HD in my area which means I get more channels in HD with an Antenna than TWC offers. They do offer a single HBO and SHOWTIME HD channel. Big whoop. Even if TWC offered cable card I am disappointed in their HD offerings.

After seeing the HD on Cable, DTV, and Dish we all went with DTV. No offense Dish. Dish Network's HD is also sweet but I need the MLB package and Dish no have MLB. :(

XBOX with XBMC still wins best item of all time. The fact it can do 720p feeds is remarkable. Kudos to the XBMC team. Looking forward to thier Linux based XBMC being as perfect.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Locutus465 on 3/5/2008 12:22:01 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, TWC does actually offer all local "HD" channels, to the point where as I said they even go so far as to consider SD ATCS channels "HD", very sad. I think they do it so they can claim more HD selection, TWC technically offers 100HD channels (possibly more, not sure if the sports packages are offered in HD), the problem is those 100 channels offer a very weak selection. With DTV I get fewer actual channels but I'm getting the ones that count.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Mitch101 on 3/5/2008 2:44:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well that explains why the picture looked like garbage on TWC. SD feed sold as being HD. Some of the other channels looked great but overall it was a disappointment.

You would think a media company would have the best picture but I guess they are living in paranoia that we will all bootleg the signal somehow so they make it inferior for some reason.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Locutus465 on 3/5/2008 4:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
Well true HD channels should look good, stuff like Discovery HD Theater, or NATGEO HD, the locals should also look good as long as you're not switching to a station with call letters that are postfixed with "-SD". I think my TWC also has TBS HD which typically takes SD content, incorrectly stretches it to fit 16:9 screen's and calls it HD, that's about the worst offender in the line up (not TWC's fault though).

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Mitch101 on 3/5/2008 10:55:27 AM , Rating: 2
On my 65" HDTV nobody seems to be able to tell the difference between HD from Antenna, Direct TV HD, over my friends PS3 on BLU-RAY. Just not that much more of an improvement if there is any. I cant see it and I swear I can give Superman a run for his money.

I can say from my own personal experience on anything 65" and less.

(Bluray == Direct TV HD == 1080i From Antenna > Upscaled DVD > DVD > Direct TV SD > Rabbit Ears > Tin foil hats > Cable)

16mm are you a programmer? Double Equal signs might give you away.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Master Kenobi on 3/5/2008 11:03:00 AM , Rating: 2
Probably. We have lots of scientists, programmers, electrical engineers, aeronautical engineers, and more that roam the fertile plains of DT. :P

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Durrr on 3/5/2008 11:22:49 AM , Rating: 5
all trolling and setting everything aflame :)

(nuclear engineer here)

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Xodus Maximus on 3/5/2008 1:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
all trolling and setting everything aflame

its okay, everyone needs a hobby ;)

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Chernobyl68 on 3/6/2008 11:51:13 AM , Rating: 2
civil engineer and former nuclear operator here...

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By PCXLFan on 3/7/2008 9:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
Homer Simpson is that you?

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By theapparition on 3/5/2008 11:55:20 AM , Rating: 3
........and more that roam the fertile plains of DT. :P

Is fertile plains a coy way to say that some spread a lot of "crap" here too. ;)

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Locutus465 on 3/5/2008 12:28:04 PM , Rating: 2
Wow... I agree that OTA HD is very good quality, but it's not the equal of HD DVD or bluray, for starters the best audio quality you're getting is DD 5.1. I guess if you don't have an audio system that can take advantage of lossless you won't see the dif, but if you do then there's a huge difference.

Also, OTA, Cable and Sat are more compressed than HDM. Which means you're going to see more banding and visual artifacts in general. OTA HD is very good, Cable HD is very good, I'm about to find out first hand, but I'm sure Sat HD is also very good. But none of them are the equal of HDM.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Mitch101 on 3/5/2008 2:39:26 PM , Rating: 2
Its strange but I find that most people prefer DD5.1 over DTS. I know DTS is supposed to be superior to DD but Im not sure it is in all cases. Actually the audio would only be as good as the sound engineer that creates it. I'm a firm believer that just because a technology is newer or more sophisticated for human perception doesn't necessarily make it better when our bodies are not digital devices. Ears and eyes are still analog devices with lots of variations from person to person. Maybe if we were digital? I dont know.

I haven't noticed any banding or especially visual artifacts to say it would make a difference. Even when I watch 5 mins of Nascar in the grandstands no issue.

You have to consider most people visually don't see any reason to upgrade from DVD much less upscaled DVD and I would imagine the curve from OTA HD or even Direct TV's HD to BLU-RAY hd is minimal at best when comparing visual quality. Maybe on a real big screen it might make a difference. Maybe a good portion of it is mental. Because the data is there subliminally you can perceive it as being better. Kind of like how some people think Monster cables improves things after swapping out perfectly capable cables.

FTR: I have a Pioneer THX2 select receiver with Boston Acoustics speakers. You could pump through an 8-track and it would sound like a symphony. Maybe on a lower end unit you can hear differences?

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Locutus465 on 3/5/2008 4:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not talking about standard DTS, I'm talking about TrueHD, multichannel PCM and DTS-HD/MA and even DD+ all of which are vastly superior to DD5.1 and DTS (standard).

I've noticed some banding, particularly on HD Theater speacials shot under water, the compression used by TWC (or discovery?) seems to have a hard time with the variations of blues/greens you get with sea water. I'm not sure what kind of screen you're viewing on, but my screen is a 50" 720P Toshi DLP, true HDM is vastly superior on this setup. Though again, I agree that broadcast is very good.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Mitch101 on 3/5/2008 5:16:01 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if it was more prevalent on the older HD Tivo MPEG2 based DVR's than the newest MPEG4 based DTV units?

I will have to check my receiver or more probably the components. I believe it does multichannel PCM its been a while since the read the manual. DTS-HS/MA im not sure. But I doubt any of my components going into it do more than DTS at this time.

I looking for getting a BLU-RAY drive in my MCE box more than a set top unit but time will tell neither are in my budget right now.

Since I don't own a BLU-RAY I may have to have my buddy come over and see if we can hear a difference.

Thanks for the tip.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By bigpow on 3/5/2008 8:51:02 PM , Rating: 2
Funny how everyone said HD from cable is bad.

I think the HD discovery channel from Comcast HD looks great on my 42" 1080p set (even when that channel is only at 1080i).

of course, that's still the worst source going to my TV, after Xbox 360 via VGA (1080p) and PC via DVI (1080p)

PBS (broadcast 1080i) looks like crap tho (especially before certain hours, when they filled the channel space with other signals)

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By 16nm on 3/7/2008 10:16:01 AM , Rating: 2
That's 16nm not 16mm. 16mm would be much, much larger than mine. LOL.

Don't confuse == (equal to) with = (assignment) !!!

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Oregonian2 on 3/5/2008 3:25:18 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on the channel you're watching and when. Watch the Smithsonian channel on HD DirctTV, looks pretty good!

Some channels just don't provide HD material, even in HD (that includes broadcast TV too).

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Oregonian2 on 3/5/2008 3:28:38 PM , Rating: 1
P.S. - I don't have 1080p LCD as "required". I've the better 1080P plasma (only 58" though). :-)

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Owls on 3/5/2008 9:50:02 AM , Rating: 1
They let you "record" PPV movies now? That seems odd. When I had DTV they would not let you do that.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By noirsoft on 3/5/2008 10:05:24 AM , Rating: 2
I've only done it once, but from what I remember, you select a showing of a PPV movie to record, and it will stay on the DVR for a few days (maybe a week) -- I don't recall if it's unlimited showings during that time or if it self-destructs after viewing, but I think it was unlimited.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By AntiM on 3/5/2008 10:26:37 AM , Rating: 2
I think they should have kept the format alive if only for the data storage potential. I'm sure they could have sold HD-DVD burners and media at a much cheaper price than what will be available for blu-ray. So, while Toshiba may have lost the media distribution format war, they may have been able to win on the data storage and backup front.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Mitch101 on 3/5/2008 11:20:07 AM , Rating: 2
Yes you can schedule recording PPV. What you cant record was the music stations. But there was a trick that you could schedule a manual recording of the channel with the time and it would work. Dont think you can do that any more but I haven't tried in a while. I'm not sure the PPV recordings expire we have always watched them within a week so hard to say.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By jadedeath on 3/5/2008 11:05:57 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree.

If Toshiba took the loss to Blu-Ray like a man, they'd be working on producing Blu-Ray players. Instead of licking their wounds and hyping up super upconversion.


RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By theapparition on 3/5/2008 12:05:52 PM , Rating: 2
It's been a whopping 2 months since Warner's withdraw, and only a month since they threw in the towel.

So that's 1 month to join the BDA, absorb all the tech material, and start developing players. Not to mention entering a market where you've alreay given up 2-3years development and 1year marketing leads to your competitors, with very little financial incentive? They'd be crazy to get in now.

Perhaps you think you could do better?

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Oregonian2 on 3/5/2008 3:32:36 PM , Rating: 2
Need to do market studies vs competitors as well to see why/if folk would buy their blu-ray that obviously would be way behind everybody else. I doubt many would buy theirs because they feel sorry for them.

They would have to come up with something (perhaps pulled from their own format's technology) that could give them some advantage. But if they can't they may be too late to enter that race.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By wallijonn on 3/6/2008 10:08:18 AM , Rating: 2
Need to do market studies vs competitors as well to see why/if folk would buy their blu-ray that obviously would be way behind everybody else.

"Obviously way behind"? They already own the manufacture of the Cell processor. What else do they need? They could easily make a BD reader since they already know how to make an HD-DVD reader. Throw in a PRAM and an ethernet port. Viola. The only things left to programme would be DRM and Region codes. Throwing in a GUI menu should be a walk in the park. Throw in the REON chip for up-converting and they may smoke the competition.

Now if they could only programme their remote control like the Oppo, along with the Oppo's ability to individually set colour, brightness, contrast, sharpness, DNR, etc., they'd have a winner. (The PS3 isn't so great for playing SD DVDs. Every now and then it loses its mind when you try to rewind or reverse, stop, slow forward or fast forward.) Hell, if they incorporate a bookmark or memory save they'd eat up the competition since nobody else has it. Panasonic's DVD players were great because they could remember up to 5 movies.

Toshiba need only make the transport as fast as the PS3. There will be no getting around FOX's DRM, though. (And if it is not DRM, can anyone explain why Fox BDs take so long to load?)

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By jadedeath on 3/6/2008 11:46:43 PM , Rating: 2
The average persons retarded cousin could do better.

For starters they f*cked their customers by tricking them into buying a technology that was doomed to failure from the start.

Secondly in 'taking it like a man' which was the point that I was replying to, they {instead of announcing intentions to join the BDA and looking like good business men} they decided to pimp out SUC to anyone who is dumb enough to not listen after they walked infront of the HD-DVD train.

Facts are, they could have 'taken it like a man' and announced that they were going to admit defeat and soldier on with the competing format, it's what Sony did when Ipods and MP3 players took over from the walkman and Discman and Betamax. Toshiba needs to grow up and get completely out of the HD-DVD boat and forget the SUC crap and join the BDA.


RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By theapparition on 3/10/2008 1:17:36 PM , Rating: 2
For starters they f*cked their customers by tricking them into buying a technology that was doomed to failure from the start.

Like Betamax, UMD, MiniDisc, ATRAC, etc........
And I fail to see why HD-DVD was doomed from the start. It had a year head start, was more feature complete, more competitive on prices, etc. This "war" was decided by major studio's taking alliegence, nothing more. If all studios fully supported both formats, then I'd bet the BR would be the one talked about as being only a curiosity and that format the PS3 games are on.

it's what Sony did when Ipods and MP3 players took over from the walkman and Discman and Betamax

Perhaps you forgot Sony's complete lack of VHS support for over 5 years. Or how they didn't have a competing MP3 player for years after Apple's first one. Is that what you mean by 'taking it like a man'?

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By mindless1 on 3/5/2008 1:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, a man would've been stubborn and kept at it. Toshiba took it like a woman, quickly and wisely exiting then later citing philosophical reasons for what is instead clearly a simple profit/loss based decision.

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Oregonian2 on 3/5/2008 3:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
Funny, that sounds like something my wife might say.... :-)

RE: Kudos to Toshiba.
By Oregonian2 on 3/5/2008 3:23:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I was quite impressed with Mr. Nishida as well. Really up and up and exactly the right attitude a company should have (and his company is one that is larger than Microsoft in terms of sales, although Microsoft has been catching up in recent years).

What's with upconvert?
By SlingXShot on 3/5/2008 11:39:22 AM , Rating: 5
How can you upconvert a DVD to 1080p quality. The guy on crack? There is nothing to upconvert because the higher resolution data is not there. It is like saying my 320x240 video that I made on my web cam, with upconvert I will make it DVD quality.

RE: What's with upconvert?
By Durrr on 3/5/2008 12:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
you can interpolate pixels...

RE: What's with upconvert?
By geddarkstorm on 3/5/2008 1:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's guessing. Intelligent guessing, but still guessing. I only have a DVD upscaler, and there is definitely a big difference between real HD and the upconversion. It still looks better than normal DVDs though :D!

RE: What's with upconvert?
By Locutus465 on 3/5/2008 1:27:41 PM , Rating: 2
This is advertised as being much better than any other upscaler on the market (consumer grade at least). We're in wait an see mode, but if this approches professional upscalers at a reasonble price then HDM may actually be in trouble.

RE: What's with upconvert?
By Oregonian2 on 3/5/2008 3:38:56 PM , Rating: 1
Also taken literally, content upscaled to 1080p *is* 1080p and therefore literally is indeed 1080p quality.

Upscaled 1080p can't achieve the full potential of 1080p, but that's a different statement. Even stuff originating at 1080p could be crud (judging by regular DVDs that are much crummier than the DVD format is capable of).

RE: What's with upconvert?
By illhuntudown on 3/5/2008 10:29:21 PM , Rating: 2
You missed his point. It's price. Blu-Ray movie $30 bucks. Standard DVD $5.00, $7.00, $10.00, ... bucks. Yes, the true quality is not the same, but an upscaled movie for 1/6th the price to watch how many times, is not a bad choice. Also, with HD-DVD gone, whose to say that new the Blu-Ray movies releases won't be more expensive.

Sony owns the studio. Sony owns a big movie library. Blu-Ray has its region coding. Sony sells the cheapest Blu-Ray player.

As far as movie downloads, I'd say it is the way of the future. You only really need to buy kids movies because they watch them over and over. But, for $5.00 bucks, to watch it once, is all most people want.

RE: What's with upconvert?
By prenox on 3/6/2008 10:31:18 AM , Rating: 2
Who says you have to buy the blu-ray disc? You could just rent it and it would still be better quality than a download

Warner gets the last laugh?
By tallcool1 on 3/5/2008 12:19:42 PM , Rating: 3
Warner proposed a solution back during the high def developement days which got approved by the DVD Forum, then Toshiba went and bypassed this to create their own format (probably for royalty reasons), which created this whole war to begin with. So in the end, Warner got the last laugh by going with Blu-Ray.

From Wiki:
The DVD Forum (which was chaired by Toshiba) was deeply split over whether to go with the more expensive blue lasers or not. In March 2002, the forum voted to approve a proposal endorsed by Warner Bros. and other motion picture studios that involved compressing HD content onto dual-layer DVD-9 discs. In spite of this decision, however, the DVD Forum's Steering Committee announced in April that it was pursuing its own blue-laser high-definition solution. In August, Toshiba and NEC announced their competing standard Advanced Optical Disc. It was finally adopted by the DVD Forum and renamed HD DVD the next year

By Master Kenobi on 3/5/2008 3:20:24 PM , Rating: 2
Ironically, Warner will be the last person to stop releasing titles on HD DVD.

RE: Warner gets the last laugh?
By saiga6360 on 3/6/2008 11:56:40 AM , Rating: 2
compressing HD content onto dual-layer DVD-9 discs?

Whew! Thank god for Toshiba then.

Good grace and good tech
By OxBow on 3/5/2008 9:53:09 AM , Rating: 1
They're taking this with better grace than most HD-DVD fanboys, and thats good. If they start putting their upscaling chipsets into their standard DVD players, it'll certainly help just about everyone. Upscaling isn't equal to true HD, but it's not a sharp stick in the eye, either.

I'm glad they didn't drag this out any longer. While some might grumble, a single tech standard is better for the consumer over the long haul than competing standards.

As for the idea that digital downloads will be able to compete with disk based media, I don't think this'll happen in the near future. While it's possible to do this, our network infrastructure is not capable of handling this in any model that would compete with disk based media. We need to upgrade this infrastructure both in speed and volume. This will take time and money, to things that work against digital downloading competing with discs. We'll get there eventually, but not for years.

RE: Good grace and good tech
By mikefarinha on 3/5/2008 10:56:16 AM , Rating: 2
I was rooting for HD-DVD but I suppose I'm glad the format battle is over. Currently finances are tight in my house hold so I was never able to splurge into HD capabilities. Hopefully by the time I'm able to indulge Blu-Ray, the hardware and movies will be much cheaper.

Or I might just shun the whole thing until HD becomes ubiquitous... which will probably be quite a few years. It will all depend on finances.

alittle off beat
By BoxCutterLou on 3/7/2008 4:03:03 PM , Rating: 2
Um, I'm the new guy, well new to posting but, do you people really want all digital downloads rather than a physical copy? I know some of you don't but there seems to be quite a few that do. Just wondering, cause if my 200 some movies were all on a hardrive it would take forever to transfer them when and if needed. I'm not even going to mention the games or the music. While space conservitive, it would be very inconvienient.

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