Tag: Toshiba

Toshiba and Sony seek to rescue TV sales with 'ultra-definition' sets

Among the announcements  at German trade show IFA this week has been the release of new ‘ultra-definition’ 4K TVs from Sony and Toshiba, as vendors look away from 3D to boost sales.

Both firms have unveiled 84-inch screens featuring the latest technologically wizardry intended to entice customers into shelling out on new sets, with Sony’s Bravia version slated for a UK release this autumn.

The two 4k LCD sets have high resolutions of 3840 x 2160. 4K is not necessarily new, but Sony has decided to market its mammoth TV around its increased resolution, making less noise about its 3D capabilities.

The price tag is likely to be suitably astronomical when the first devices hit the UK later this year.

So are Sony and Toshiba onto a money spinner that will help the beleaguered TV business? Hardware retailers could certainly do with a new gimmick to spur on sales in a way that 3D has failed to achieve on a large scale.

Nigh on all TV vendors are operating at losses, and most have been for some time – even the seemingly unstoppable Samsung has been struggling with its TV sales.  Part of the reason is that consumers in markets such as the UK have, in many cases, already upgraded to flat screen LCDs, so replacement sales remain slow.

According to display market analyst, Bob Raikes, who is present at IFA, the superlative technology should firmly grasp the attention of gamers and film buffs, but mass market appeal could be hampered by difficulties in receiving 4K signals

“4K will not be a big driver of purchases for watching broadcast content because of the barriers to transmissions,” Raikes said, speaking with TechEye. “Even carriers that have plenty of bandwidth will need new set top boxes and transmission equipment and the new generation of codecs such as the new H.264 HEVC will need time to mature and be built into lower cost chips.”

However, Raikes points out that Toshiba is already showing some 4K game content from PCs using native 4K content at IFA, and describes them as “simply stunning”.

“The feeling is so immersive that I found I was getting genuine motion sickness watching a driving game,” Raikes said.

He added that using Blu-ray discs using content shot on 4K cameras works well when upscaled onto 4K sets.

“So, Sony is probably thinking more about Blu-ray and the next generation PlayStation,” he said, adding “if that ran at 4K natively, I’d be very tempted to upgrade my TV”.

DisplaySeach analyst Paul Gray, also at IFA, highlights one of the of the major drawbacks with 4K at this time – the lack of available content – and he does not anticipate 4k sets seeing major sales, at least in the short term.

“We do not anticipate them tunneling rapidly down the product ranges,” Gray said.  “The critical issue is no content in 4k2k at present. If the PC industry starts a pixel war (Apple are already increasing Mac resolutions) and the next generation of games machines have higher resolutions then they could catalyse growth.”

“However there are some unsolved steps in panel technology that need to be fixed first. For example, 4k2k displays currently have a limit on refresh at 120Hz,” Gray said.

Toshiba snubs Texas Instruments

Toshiba has told Texas Instruments that it does not want to put its chips into Windows RT devices.

It appears that Toshiba has given up on Windows RT and wants to stick to something a little safer based around x86 chips from Intel and AMD.

Toshiba said in a statement that its cold feet had nothing to do with the technology. It was simply down to delayed components “that would make a timely launch impossible”.

It is also not pulling the project because Microsoft is launching its own tablet, as Toshiba said that it will still release an x86 version.

Toshiba spokesman Eric Paulsen was quoted by Total Tele as saying that the company would continue to look into the possibility of Windows RT products in the future while monitoring market conditions.

The move follows similar steps by HP and represents a blow to RT. TI must be on shaky ground too.

What appears to be getting the supplier’s goat about RT is the lack of software but there is also the small matter of an uncertain consumer demand for the product. 

LCD price fixing leads to $1 billion glass action

Consumers who bought a TV, monitor or notebook computer with an LCD flat panel screen are being advised they can claim back money from price-fixing settlements which over the years have totalled $1.1 billion.

Kinsella Media, LLC, which is dealing with a court-approved LCD flat panel litigation from seven flat panel manufacturers including AU Optronics, LG Display and Toshiba, has said that the fees the companies have been ordered to pay back compensate users who could have been forced to pay more for their products.

It follows a lawsuit which found the manufacturers guilty of conspiring to fix, raise, maintain or stabilise prices of TFT-LCD flat panels, resulting in overcharges to consumers who bought televisions, monitors and notebook computers.

The law firm said that the settlements would provide almost $1.1 billion to consumers in 24 states, as well as the District of Columbia and government entities in eight states that purchased televisions, monitors and notebook computers containing an LCD flat panel.

The settlements also provide nationwide injunctive relief to stop the defendants’ alleged behaviour.

However, there may be some time to wait, as the court is still debating whether the charges against the companies are to be upheld. It will hold a hearing on 29 November, 2012 to consider whether to approve the three new settlements from LG, AOU and Toshiba.  

Payments will be based on the number of valid claims filed as well as on the number and type of LCD flat panel products that consumers purchased. It is expected that a minimum payment of $25 will be made to all eligible consumers who submit a valid claim.

Any money remaining after claims are paid will be distributed to charities, governmental bodies or other beneficiaries approved by the court.

Toshiba slashes chip production

Toshiba is slashing its  production of flash memory chips by 30 percent.

The company has said that it has been caught by oversupply and falling prices. This even though its other Japanese rival Elpida filed for bankruptcy and its other enemy Renesas is trying to avoid a similar problem by cutting its workforce and closing half of its domestic plants.

Speaking to Reuters, Toshiba  said that it will slash production at its Yokkaichi plant in western Japan due an oversupply of chips for USB drives and memory cards.

This is a serious cut which seems to have caught many analysts on the back foot. While everyone knew that demand was low, no one thought it would be that low.

Toshiba’s biggest customer is Apple and more than half of its NAND chip output ends up in the iPhone. It seems that with the iPhone 5 coming out later this year, Toshiba thinks that it will have enough chips stored in its warehouses. That means that it has a lot of chips backed up.

However it is more likely that the cuts will come in memory cards  which are seeing really low global demand. There is a lot of product out there which has been caused by increased NAND production capacity which has been created beause everyone was predicting a top market for smartphones and tablets.

This market is suffering and is about as low as it can go, analysts have been muttering into their beer.

Toshiba said it expected market conditions to improve in the current July-September quarter.

Chip industry tracker DRAMeXchange said that NAND prices have fallen as much as 60 percent in the last year and are expected to fall by a further 35-40 percent. 

Toshiba hit by price fixing cash

Japan’s Toshiba is liable for $87 million in damages after a US Jury decided that it fixed prices in the liquid crystal display (LCD) market.

Tosh’s customers brought a civil class action lawsuit against Toshiba and other LCD producers, alleging anticompetitive practices.

The other defendants settled the case, while Toshiba decided to take it to trial. Sadly for Tosh that seems to have backfired and now it must pay $70 million to consumers who bought finished products, and $17 million to manufacturers that used LCD panels.

Toshiba insists that it did not act illegally in the LCD market, and that it would pursue “all available legal avenues” to correct the verdict.

“While Toshiba appreciates the jury’s time and effort, Toshiba believes that the jury’s verdict is in error as to the finding of wrongdoing,” the company told Reuters.

AU Optronics was convicted in March on criminal charges related to the LCD price-fixing scheme. In that case prosecutors accused AUO executives of meeting more than 60 times with competitors at luxury hotels to fix prices of LCD panels.

The court claims that the conspiracy had cost the US economy billions of dollars.

Several other LCD manufacturers settled criminal charges. Toshiba was never summoned to answer for it. 

LSI SandForce demos 19nm NAND in working SSD

LSI SandForce showed off what appears to be the world’s first SSD based on 19nm NAND.

The contraption is based on Toshiba’s 19nm Toggle Mode NAND and another version with Intel 20nm synchronous NAND was also on display. In a brief press demo run, the Toshiba unit hit 60,000 IOPS at low 4k random write access. The Intel-based SSD managed 498MB/s in IOMeter.

LSI SandForce also used the opportunity to showcase some of its ultrabook drives, including the tiny mSATA SSD used on the Asus Zenbook, along with an SSD cache drive stuck into a Lenovo X220.

The 24GB drive is based on Intel 25nm chips and it was paired up with a Hitachi 250GB hard drive.

 The company boldly claims that the tiny cache drive can boost performance by up to 1000 per cent compared to HDD only configurations, although we would take the figure with a grain of salt.

It is also said to be up to 70 percent faster than competing cache drives, reports the SSD Review, where there is a set of pictures.

Toshiba gives up on netbooks in the US

Toshiba has decided that there is no point trying to sell netbooks to the US.

While the company is going to continue to make them, looks like the Intel Cedar Trail-based Toshiba NB510, will only be seen in third world countries like the UK.

Samsung and Dell already showed their willingness to ditch netbooks last year in the hope that they can make higher-margins with something else.

The Toshiba NB510 should have done well if there had been a market for netbooks. It had a 10.1″ system powered by a 1.6GHz Atom N2600 processor, Intel GMA 3600 graphics, 2GB RAM, a 1024 x 600 display and 320GB of storage space.

Toshiba thinks the future, particularly in the US, will be Ultrabooks such as the Toshiba Portege Z830, which offers a thin and light form factor but does not run like an asthmatic ant with a heavy load of shopping.

The question is what will those who are short of cash do now as Ultrabooks cost $800.

Toshiba appears to think that the netbook market will head towards tablets. In particular its Excite line of tablets.

Tosh has been walking away from a lot of its production lines lately.  Recently we reported how it was abandoning making tellies in Japan. 


Toshiba gives up on Japanese tellies

Electronics giant Toshiba has decided that making TVs for the Japanese is a complete waste of time.

Prices of tellies in Japan have fallen faster than a team of base-jumping performing elephants who have forgotten to pack their parachutes.

Most of the problems appear to be because the yen is stronger than the Incredible Hulk and by the time Tosh gets a telly to the Land of the Rising Sun it is worthless.

According to Reuters, it is the second manufacturer to walk away from Japan. The company which sounds like a sneeze, Hitachi also walked away citing a strong yen.

At this rate they should be doing better in Europe where the currency here is pretty weak. But pretty soon Japan will find it difficult to get its fix of electronic goods. 

IBM posts sturdy quarterly revenues, but hardware sales are flat

IBM has posted positive figures in its software and systems but its hardware revenues let the side down.

According to the company’s latest quarterly results, IBM financially excelled at selling software and systems. Its hardware revenue for the past three months has been sluggish. The hardware results didn’t help the company’s overall revenue, which was flat for the quarter.

For the first quarter of 2012, IBM’s net income was $3.1 billion compared with $2.9 billion in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of seven percent. Operating (non-GAAP) net income was $3.3 billion compared with $3.0 billion in the first quarter of 2011, an increase of nine percent.

However, it said total revenues for the first quarter of 2012 of $24.7 billion were flat  – up one percent, adjusting for currency – from the first quarter of 2011.    

When it came to its software offerings results were strong, with the company posting
$5.6 billion for the quarter from software, an increase of five percent. Its sales of IBM middleware -such as the company’s WebSphere, Tivoli, Lotus and Rational products – also boosted the profits, making up $3.5 billion in sales, and accounting for an increase of seven percent.

Hardware sales hit $3.7 billion in revenues for the quarter. This was down seven percent from the last quarter. System z mainframe server products also failed to impress, dropping by 25 percent. Its revenue from Power systems and System x systems was flat from a year earlier.

IBM’s Global Technology Services arm made the business $10 billion in revenue, which was a two percent increase from the year before. However its Global Business Services arm saw a two percent drop to $4.6 billion.

Over in the Americas’ first-quarter revenues were $10.5 billion, an increase of one percent from the 2011 period. However,   revenues from Europe/Middle East/Africa were $7.6 billion, down two percent.

Asia-Pacific revenues boosted the company’s takings with an increased four percent to $6.1 billion, while OEM revenues were $509 million, down 17 percent compared with the first quarter in 2011.

IBM also announced that it was selling its Point-of-Sale business to Toshiba, which would be shelling out a cool $850 million in its biggest ever acquisition.

The pair said in a statement that the purchase would enable Toshiba to provide hardware, software and integrated in-store offerings to its customers worldwide.  

Last year this wing of IBM saw revenues of about $1.15 billion. It also has around 1,000 employees globally.

The deal is expected to close in the late stage of the second quarter.  

While the transaction is being completed, the companies will continue to operate independently.

After the transaction closes, IBM will continue to provide maintenance services to clients under a multi-year services agreement. Retail Store Solutions customer service and product availability will continue as usual as the operations are integrated.  

Toshiba to build new NAND plant

Electronics maker Toshiba is one of the few who is not abandoning Japan in search of cheaper markets in Taiwan or Korea.

The company has announced that it is going to build a new NAND flash memory plant in Japan as early as this summer.

According to the Nikkan Kogyo newspaper, the company wants to cash in on the dramatic rise of mobile devices.

The plant is the second part of a fifth NAND factory. The plans had been on the drawing board for a while, but Toshiba had not revealed when work would begin.

Now it is clear that the company wants the NAND flash memory out there as fast as possible with the new plant working by 2013.

Toshiba has not revealed how much the expansion will cost or how much more capacity it will provide.

NAND flash memory is being touted as a potential money spinner, although in a year or so there will be a lot of competition out there.