PlayStation-Powered TV Records Eight Channels At Once

Toshiba has used the revolutionary chip inside the PlayStation 3 to develop a super TV set that is almost 150 times more powerful than today’s HDTVs and can store up to three terabytes of recordings. The Toshiba Cell Regza 55-inch LCD TV, which is the first to use the ultrafast “Cell” chip found in the PS3, will be on the market in Japan in December and carry a price tag of Â¥1 million ($12,700). That is about twice the price of a comparable current generation model but buyers will get the TV set and a set-top box containing 14 tuners (today’s HDTVs have three at most) and three terabytes (about 3000 gigabytes) of built-in storage for recording shows. This will allow viewers to cycle back through the last 26 hours of high-definition content across eight channels on-demand. Alternatively, eight channels can be shown on the screen at the same time. 

The price might seem outlandish, especially as consumers have cut back on unnecessary spending during the global financial crisis, but Toshiba is hoping that, by the time it begins selling the TV outside Japan next year, viewers will be ready for their next big TV upgrade. The product was unveiled ahead of Japan’s biggest electronics show, Ceatec, which starts in Tokyo this week. Models smaller than 55 inches and supporting 3-D films will most likely be on offer by the time it begins selling in other markets next year. Such processing power may not be needed today, but this may change now that manufacturers are starting to position TV sets as the centre of the home entertainment hub. Newer TV models include built-in hard drives for recording and time shifting shows and many are now able to access content directly from the internet. And with Australia’s major TV networks launching second high-definition channels on top of their existing line-ups, the Cell Regza will be able to record eight of these channels simultaneously. There is so much storage space that Toshiba has developed a keyword search tool to help users easily find recordings. The TV also includes a web browser specially designed by Opera to support high-definition video and, The Wall Street Journal reports, can “take blurry internet video from YouTube and refine it to near high-definition quality”. The company told the newspaper that it planned initially to produce 1000 units a month for the Japanese market. The Cell microprocessor was jointly developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM for a reported $US400 million. Its first commercial application was the PS3 but it has also been used in IBM servers and, now, HDTVs. Much of the Cell Regza’s advanced capabilities are made possible by this chip, which has eight separate “co-processors” as opposed to a single core, allowing it to process multiple high-definition video streams simultaneously and far more efficiently. As a result, the Cell Regza has about 143 times the processing power of Toshiba’s current TV sets. Furthermore, the Cell chip is about 10 times more powerful than the Intel Core 2 Duo chip found in many desktop and laptop PCs. [stuff]

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 19:25

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