Toshiba's first HD-DVD drive for the UK has been officially released to market.

The HD-E1 is the first of a series planned for the UK, and Toshiba hopes that 40 films will be available for viewing by the end of the year.

The drive will retail at approximately 450, which Toshiba claims is half the cost of expected Blu-ray players.

"The number of HD Ready TVs in the market is already significant and is continuing to grow," said Olivier Van Wynendaele, deputy general manager for HD-DVD at Toshiba Europe.

"Toshiba is committed to delivering a premium quality product at readily affordable prices, and we expect the HD-E1 to be the player that truly kick starts the next-generation HD-DVD market."

The company claims that the images the player displays are five times better than current technology.

The HD-E1 incorporates picture-in-picture video commentary, in-movie menus and an internet connection for the potential to access additional features.

Toshiba will launch a premium player, the HD-XE1, in late-January 2007 priced at around 649.