Blu-ray Faces New Toshiba Competitor, Despite Denials

Loser to Blu-ray says new drives offer "near HD" quality at a cheaper price.

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Having lost a format war to Sony and its Blu-ray disks, Toshiba made good on a promise to emphasize "near-HD" players for standard DVDs. The new "upconverting" players start with the $150 XD-E500 that Toshiba says will push boring ol' DVDs closer to a high-definition image.

Now, Toshiba execs are quick to say the new drives are not meant to "replace, kill, or compete with" Blu-ray.

Right. Who believes that?

Maybe Toshiba gave up partly because it realized that new upconverting drives would dilute sales of new and more expensive HD players. The long, expensive battle it faced just wasn't worth it.

Either way, Toshiba would clearly prefer consumers stick with DVDs rather than sink money into Sony's pockets.