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Toshiba Blu-ray player: Just what is the point of that?

As the co-inventor of HD DVD, Toshiba has always avoided releasing a Blu-ray player, but now there's a rumour that the company is considering giving in. Let us explain why it shouldn't bother

Over the weekend, Engadget reported that Toshiba is planning to launch a Blu-ray player before the end of the year. There are so many better things Toshiba could be doing with its time. Allow us to explain.

With prices tumbling for Blu-ray hardware, making a Blu-ray player doesn't seem like a reliable way for Toshiba to make money -- there are so many hardware companies already making Blu-ray players, and it would be hard to stand out against the competition.

Of course, that's not to say that we wouldn't welcome Toshiba bringing some of the best bits of its HD DVD players to Blu-ray. The excellent scaling hardware in its high-end HD DVD players is a treat for the eyes, after all. Indeed, we still choose to use HD DVD players around here for upscaling DVDs, which speaks highly of their abilities.

Our point is that we just don't need another generic Blu-ray player. The one thing the world really could use is better non-disc-based entertainment. We all know that, sooner or later, everyone is just going to download things from the Internet. We'd love to see a movie-streaming service in the UK like the ones from Amazon and Netflix in the US. Our only hope in the UK seems to be Lovefilm, which is good for DVD rental, but dire in terms of its streaming options.

If Toshiba could make a DVD player with access to a massive online library of both standard- and high-definition movies, we'd bite its arm off to buy one. The problem with postal DVD-rental services is that you can only watch the movies they can post to you. In the case of Lovefilm, we've found the waiting time for certain discs to be intolerable. There's a definite gap in the market here.

Toshiba could have both a subscription and pay-per-view service, with a BitTorrent client in the player, like the Popcorn Hour, to make the distribution of movies cheap and fast. Ideally there would be a choice of DVD-quality, 720p and 1080p movies available to rent and buy. We'd even accept DRM if it allowed you to share a download with any player in your house.

What we want is a legal way to watch movies when we want, without all that pointless messing about with discs. That's where we think Toshiba should spend its time, energy and money.