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Toshiba HD-A20
Toshiba offers "low-cost" 1080p player

Toshiba has announced the availability of its new HD-A20 HD DVD player. The player was first shown earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and was projected to have a price tag of $599 -- instead the HD DVD player will be priced at $499.

Toshiba's HD-A20 supports full 1080p resolution unlike its cheaper HD-A2 brother which only supports up to 1080i. Unfortunately, the HD-A20 doesn't feature the HDMI 1.3 interface found in Sony's BD-1200 or PlayStation 3 and instead relies on HDMI 1.2. Without HDMI 1.3, the HD-A20 misses out on xvYCC support, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and automatic audio syncing. In order to get HDMI 1.3 on an HD DVD player, you'll have to step up to the $799 HD-XA2.

Sub $500 players which support 1080p are few and far between these days. Besides the HD-A20, there's also the $499 USD 20GB PS3 -- the only problem is (1) the 20GB PS3 is extremely hard to come by and (2) it has been discontinued by Sony. Microsoft's $199 HD DVD drive supports 1080p over VGA and when paired with a $299 Xbox 360 Core comes in under $500.

Toshiba also announced that is has sold over 900,000 HD DVD titles to date and promises that 70 more titles will be released between now and July 2007. The company is also talking up its promotion where anyone who purchases a new Toshiba HD DVD player can receive five HD DVD titles for free. Despite the excitement from Toshiba over HD DVD, it looks as though the Blu-ray standard is putting up quite a fight.





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