CES: Toshiba goes all 3-D, all the time

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Bucking the trend of falling TV prices, Toshiba today announced a new line -- Cell TV -- with a super-fast processor now used in the Sony PS3 game console.

This is the first announced use of the Cell chip in a TV. ‘Toshiba missed out on HD DVD -- which got beat out by Blu-ray -- but that gave them the first shot at defining the future of TV,’ said obviously enthusiastic analyst Richard Doherty, head of the Envisioneering Group, after the Toshiba press conference.

This future will likely be expensive, however. Toshiba did not announce prices for sets but was not shy in saying they would come at a premium. ‘We don’t have to rush to the bottom,’ said Scott Ramirez, vice president of marketing for the company.

The Cell’s added power will support numerous enhancements, including a feature that will supposedly take any 2-D show and present it in 3-D when the viewer chooses. But it’s not magic -- it will still require the use of 3-D glasses. Toshiba will be using powered, active shutter glasses that carry the highest price tag of any such specs. Yoshiaki Uchiyama, Toshiba senior vice president, said the top line of Cell TVs will come bundled with the glasses; otherwise, they will be à la carte.


Another feature of the Cell -- video calls on the set, with ‘crystal-clear images, even on a TV as big as 55-inches (although the this feature was not demonstrated at the press conference).

The Cell will also have built-in wireless networking, so sets can connect to home networks without snaking more cables into living rooms. That will eliminate the need for separate, Internet-connected devices to view services such as Facebook, CinemaNow or Flckr from sofas.

But will Cell sell? Stay tuned.

-- David Colker and Dawn Chmielewski