Toshiba Busts Out with Cell-powered Regza HDTV

On the eve of Japan’s CEATEC trade show, electronics giant Toshiba has formally unveiled the Regza 55X1 HDTV (Japanese), the company’s first television to be powered by the Cell processor—the same chip at the heart of the PlayStation 3. And while the 55X1 will not be offering support for PlayStation games—consumers will still need to buy a console for that—it does feature an integrated DVR, 3 TB of storage space, an innovated LED backlighting system, DLNA compatibility, and access to broadband content via the Internet.

Toshiba Regza 55X1

As a display, the 55X1 offers impressive specs: Toshiba claims the 55-inch HD LCD panel sports a 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio (dynamic, presumably), enabled in part by an LED backlighting system tha divides the display into 512 zones with individual lighting control. The 55X1 will also sport 1250cd/m&exp2; of brightness and a 240 Hz refresh rate.

But the true star of the 55X1 is the cell processor, which Toshiba claims is just the first step on future “super resolution” technology. The Cell processor lives in a separate box from the 55X1, and offers some 143 times the computing capacity of a current Regza television, improving image quality, color, and brightness across the board. Toshiba is also building in a mammoth DVR with 3 TB of storage capacity, 2 TB of which can be used to timeshift recorded programming, capturing up to 26 hours of high-def programming and recording up to 8 broadcast channels at a time. Toshiba has also developed a custom navigation interface that lets users search on-air, archives, and future programs—shows are shown as thumbnails, with other shows circling it based on perceived relevancy: more relevant shows are closer, while others orbit further away. Users can search on keyword, actors’ names, genre, title, and more. There’s also a multi-thumbnail mode that can handle up to 40 time-divided thumbnails of a program, making it simple for users to find the point they want in a program.

The Regza 55X1 will also support broadband content, with integrated support for YouTube video, a built-in version of the Opera Web browser, and (amazingly enough) will also handle displaying JPEG photos. The 55X1 is also DLNA compatible, so it can integrate with media capabilities on a home network.

Toshiba says the 55X1 will be available in Japan in December 2009; no pricing information has been released, but reports have the suggested price near ¥1 million, which translates to over $11,000 USD. There’s no word on when, or if, Toshiba plans to market the Regza 55X1 outside the Japanese market.

However, Toshiba has talked about future plans for Cell-based televisions, including tapping the Cell processor to offer 3D technology, and a set that upconverts 1080p signals to 3840 by 1260 resolution. Other possibilities include a integrated home media server. Time will tell.