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HD DVD Reaches New Low Price Point  Print E-mail
Home Theater News HD DVD Hardware News
Written by Jerry Del Colliano   
Thursday, 24 May 2007

Toshiba, the driving electronics company behind the HD DVD high definition disc format, has raised the bar by lowering the price of the entry-level HD DVD player, the HD-A2 to $399 retail. While gamers who use Microsoft’s Xbox 360 can upgrade their game machine with the external HD DVD Drive for less, the overall price of the Toshiba unit represents a major move toward mainstream affordability.

Some time sensitive rebates can make the Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player even cheaper than the retail price for consumers. Some reports have consumers being able to buy the machine for as low as $289, which nears what some industry analysts call the “magic price point” of $199. More importantly, with an early look at the player, AVRev.com reviewers have been able to point out that Toshiba has been somewhat successful in working out some of the early yet nagging issues like slow load times and HDMI (or more accurately HDCP) “handshake” issues. While the low priced HD-A2 player is not 1080p capable, Toshiba introduced the intermediate HD-A20 player, which is capable of outputting 1080p signals. The HD-A20 is available for only $499 ($399 with the current promotion) and features Anchor Bay’s DVDO video processor as well as extremely decent onboard audio, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD.

The least expensive way to get into Blu-ray is Sony’s HDMI 1.3 equipped Playstation 3, which Sony Electronics recently announced they will be shipping more to retail after a shortage during the 2006 Holiday selling season. Sony has standalone machines that are increasingly stable and also 1080p capable but are priced a few hundred dollars higher. With mainstream consumers spending much of their video budget on bigger and cheaper flat HDTVs, not all of them are willing to pop for $1,000 or more for a new format disc player involved in a format war. At $300, the stakes are lower thus more consumers can be lured into making an investment into a player. With enough HDMI inputs on their new HDTVs or switchers from the likes of Geffen or Dtrovision, they can likely have the best of both worlds from HD DVD and Blu-ray at full 1080p resolution.

Another key factor in the launch of both formats is the release of landmark titles. The HD DVD camp is pushing the blockbuster series The Matrix, which is one heck of a demo disc. The Blu-ray camp is hyping Disney’s first two Pirates of the Caribbean films, which are also very good discs for showing off the capabilities of the format. By anyone’s account, not nearly enough modern, high production value films have been released thus far to lure a big segment of mainstream consumers into buying a new player, despite the fact there are tens of millions of HDTV sets currently installed in the marketplace domestically. The format that is looking for a leg up should look to get dozens upon dozens of new, A-list titles on the street, complete with vivid HD video, sizzling surround sound and nifty supplemental materials. That value proposition, along with lower priced source components, will get consumers into the big box electronics stores this holiday season, launching these formats to a new level of success.








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