Toshiba Slash HD-DVD Player Prices

In a shock move Toshiba have slashed the price of many of their HD-DVD players in the US, effective immediately. They labelled the move a "strategic action". The reduction sees its entry level player priced at just $399USD and the newly released HD-A20 model coming to market at $499 USD.

The move comes just a few days after Microsoft announced its Xbox 360 Elite would not have an in-built HD-DVD drive, and at a time where Blu-Ray discs are outselling HD-DVD nearly 3 to 1. Supporters of the HD-DVD format, including Warner, Paramount and Eagle Rock have welcomed the move.

"The spring is ramping up well for HD-DVD, with an incredible list of movies and the best priced hardware on the market," commented Ken Graffeo, executive VP of marketing at Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

News source: Gamesindustry.biz

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There were other manufacturers of Beta decks other than Sony (however, the bigger-capacity manufacturers were all in the VHS camp, especially Matsu****a Electric, which is best known here in the US for the Panasonic and Technics brands); it was true, however, that Sony was the highest-capacity manufacturer of Beta VCRs. Where Sony got trumped, however, was price, not technology. I was not attempting to paint this as PS3 vs. other consoles (in terms of BD, the console side-battle is actually secondary, as neither X360 or Wii has technically taken a side either way), so why are you trying to drag either X360 *or* Wii into this, as neither has taken a side? Other than Samsung or Sony itself, no other BD manufacturer (including Pioneer) has much in the way of BD player capacity in the North American (especially the US) marketplace; while others (notably Matsu****a/Panasonic) *did* show new models at Winter CES, most of them are scheduled for mid-2007 or later launch. Toshiba leads the HD DVD camp, with assistance from Thomson (RCA); however we have not seen the entry of the Koreans, Taiwanese, or especially Philips (including Magnavox). At this point, it is still primarily Sony and Samsung vs. Toshiba and RCA (with the lone combideck from LG providing an interesting sideshow).

Your information is somewhat out of date.

Panasonic's BD player BDP-10 has been out since November. (Best Buy/Magnolia, etc)

Pioneer's BD player since December. (high end ELITE)

Philips'BD player since November. (available at several stores including Costco!)

RCA, a Toshiba A-1 rebadge, has exited the HD market entirely. (They are members of both camps via Thomson)

Sharp's BD player is built and ready to go.

Samsung's second gen BDP-1200 is now in stores.

The player Panasonic showed at CES was their second model.

Drag in the XBOX 360 because other than Toshiba, it's Microsoft bankrolling the HD DVD marketing effort. Toshiba builds the XBOX 360 HD DVD add-on.

Sony's rather strange advantage is that the PS3 is a BD player (basically letting them stealth a BD player into the homes of console gamers), whereas standalone BD players are twice or more the PS3's price tag. Whereas, until Toshiba's recent price reductions, the HD-A2 was $100 more than the PS3, but barely half the price of a standalone BD player. The price reduction actually brings the HD-A2 and PS3 into match with each other (which is apparently what the marketplace has demanded). However, why is this good news for either Sony (which makes the PS3 and is the lead manufacturer and supporter of the BD camp) or even BD as a format? With this being the case, it means one of two things: either Sony is losing serious amounts of yen on the PS3 (which Sony's board is not going to permit to happen for eternity) or *all* BD standalone players are horribly overpriced (which, compared to the PS3, is certainly the case). So which is it, BD supporters? Is Sony losing their shirts on BD, or engaged in a massive ripoff with high non-PS3-based BD player pricing? Even the *acknowledged* technical superiority of the Beta format (a Sony-developed and sponsored format) couldn't save it from the VHS onslaught (to the point that Sony is now one of the largest manufacturers of VHS-format VCRs).

Umm, everyone knows Sony's losing money with every PS3 sold.

How many BILLIONS did MS lose with the XBOX? Lose money on the consoles, make money on the games.


Funny you should mention Beta. There was only one maker of Beta decks.
How many companies make HD DVD players? With Blu-ray, right now you can get a player from Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, or a PS3. Seems to me Sony's on the right side this time.

Isn't the protective layer on a Blu-ray disc thinner than on a HD-DVD? The large capacities are great but I don’t feel comfortable storing my data on a disc that scratches easily.

This is a great move. It might seem like desperation but don't be fooled. Sony was ahead in every format war(mini discs never did well though) they've sparked and lost everytime. Bigger is not always better. HD-DVD is a far more consumer friendly format and with picture and sound quality the same the extra space Blu ray offers is only usefull for the many useless cut scenes they throw onto movies. Its really only good for storage and thats it. IMO The other studios WILL come around seeing as the bottom line is all that counts in business and begin to offer both formats and gradually faze out Blu ray when consumers make their choice.

Sony < every other format they opposed

IMO discs are a dinosaur anyways. I have most of my movies transfered onto a couple of external drives. Now I can take my library of movies where ever I go and with more and more downloadable content being offered legally why would you want to waste money on burners, players and discs??

hd dvd is crap, thats what it is. Less capacity is just the tip of the iceberg.
The sound of hd dvd no match for Blu-ray also the PQ of Blu-ray is way better.

That are some of the reasons that Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, Philips, Sony and Pioneer and many other release only Blu-ray devices while no one except Toshiba (we know about their crap players already)...

DaveBG said,
hd dvd is crap, thats what it is. Less capacity is just the tip of the iceberg.
The sound of hd dvd no match for Blu-ray also the PQ of Blu-ray is way better.

That are some of the reasons that Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, Philips, Sony and Pioneer and many other release only Blu-ray devices while no one except Toshiba (we know about their crap players already)...

You need to be better educated. HD-DVD is actually superior to Blueray INCLUDING capacity wise. The fact that the "base" capacity is lower means nothing as HD-DVD has been creating multi layer disks since day 1 - something Blue-ray still can not do.

However, at the moment, Blu-ray can only produce single-layer discs. So the total storage capacity on all Blu-ray discs that have been brought to market thus far is 25 GB. Meanwhile, from the outset HD-DVD has been delivering dual-layer discs that hold a total of 30 GB

http://www.projectorcentral.com/retailing_HD-DVD_Blu-ray.htm

If Microsoft releases a blu-ray player for $199 as an addon to their XBox 360/PC then I can finally leave this debate :P. (I hope they do.)

By the time large quantities of hi-def films are readily available these players will do blue ray and HD-DVD in one box and cost £50.

How do I know this you ask? Well, because history always repeats itself, and this is always the way of modern technology.

I'd have to agree with you. Add the time of people actually catching up and figuring out what the hell "HD" is and why they "need" it and by then you will see players that play both standards. This will probably happen before either format "wins."

I don't see either format packing up and leaving any time soon. Too much money is invested on both fronts. So what if Blu-Ray outsells HD-DVD 3 to 1. Even if it were 10 to 1 I bet HD-DVD would still stick around.

I wonder how much DVD sells are outselling HD-DVD + Blu-Ray sells. I bet it is in the 50+ to 1 ball park.

To me it seems like a move of desperation by the HD-DVD group. No real surprise as they had to drop the prices of the players again with the PS3 out and the lack of decent new HD-DVD titles on the horizon. Even at this early stage it feels like a final effort.

Actually, that's one of the main disadvantages HD-DVD has right now (title selection). There is a much wider range of studio support with Blu-Ray, so obviously they'll have more titles available. If more studios would support the HD-DVD format then that'd be a plus for that format since the players are cheaper, the media is cheaper, the manufacturing costs are cheaper, which means a higher profit margin for the movie studios. But I guess they don't see it that way.

IceBreakerG said,
Actually, that's one of the main disadvantages HD-DVD has right now (title selection). There is a much wider range of studio support with Blu-Ray, so obviously they'll have more titles available. If more studios would support the HD-DVD format then that'd be a plus for that format since the players are cheaper, the media is cheaper, the manufacturing costs are cheaper, which means a higher profit margin for the movie studios. But I guess they don't see it that way.

Because with time manufacturing costs will become a non issue.

So the decision of the studios to back Blu-Ray, in the long term will be of greater benifit to consumers. It's a shame that it's proberly not the type of logic the studios based their decision on.

EDIT: I'm just glad Blu-Ray is doing well, and all the Sony haters were not sucessfull in the scare campaign.

When I hecked a catalogue listing HD-DVD and BD titles available, I found a total of 2 BD titles I want to own, maybe 2-3 I wouldn't mind having and a few more that, I'd take them if they gave them to me for free, or I had money to spare and cae by one cheap.

for HD-DVD, I found at least 5 titles I wanted to have, 8 or so I wouldn't mind having, and I don't quite remember how many for the last there, but is was equally much higher.

that's not icnluding titles I found available on both formats.

screw the format war, who gives the crap which format is better, they're both virtually the same! I think most people would like to know which HD experience is cheaper and that's the bottom line for consumers. PRICE.

Microsoft is smart to not include either HD-DVD or BluRay in it's console. Whichever format ends up finally dominating the market can easily be offered as an external unit.

It shouldn't have built in hd-dvd, that just adds to the cost of the console and isn't needed, I buy a console to play games, not watch movies. IF you want to watch movies with it you then have the CHOICE to get the hd-dvd add-on or a stand alone player. I don't want a format forced down my throat because some big media company (sony) wants to push it's own format on the world.

The same people crying about the elite not having a HD-DVD drive built in are the same people crying at sony for putting in a blu-ray drive into the ps3....

I don't want a format forced down my throat because some big media company (sony) wants to push it's own format on the world.

Then why is Panasonic, Pioneer, Mitsubishi, Sharp, Samsung, Hitachi, LG, Philips, Yamaha, etc all "pushing" this format if it's just a "Sony" format?

Why is it ok for Toshiba & Microsoft to push a size and bandwidth limited format to confuse the marketplace?

Making the 360 Elite have a HD-DVD drive would mean that they would have pricing about the same as the most expensive PS3.

And yet it still wouldn't have built in wireless 802.11g, gigabit ethernet, SACD, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, or multi memory card reader.

Nor has it been established how much a HD DVD reader is. It very well may be much more expensive than that, and not something MS is willing to risk on an "unproven format" to quote their UK rep.

Can someone explain to me briefly why it's a better format... all I really know is Blue-Ray is significantly higher capacity.

mikmo said,
Can someone explain to me briefly why it's a better format... all I really know is Blue-Ray is significantly higher capacity.

Having a higher capacity is just about it, that's the only advantage bluray has, unless you count higher costs as an advantage as well.

This might be fine for people who wanna use them as backup storage insted of DVDRs (which is what I use now). But if HD-DVD has a lower price then I'll take 17GB over 25GB per layer, specially if it's a difference of $10 or more. And lets not get started on the cost of the burners at this point.

GP007 said,

Having a higher capacity is just about it, that's the only advantage bluray has, unless you count higher costs as an advantage as well.

This might be fine for people who wanna use them as backup storage insted of DVDRs (which is what I use now). But if HD-DVD has a lower price then I'll take 17GB over 25GB per layer, specially if it's a difference of $10 or more. And lets not get started on the cost of the burners at this point.

So what is the advantage HD-DVD has apart from better compression which is also coming to Blu-Ray titles in the future which means even better picture and sound on 50gb titles.

Can some actually list, or give one advantage of HD-DVD... 'you've said thats the only advantage blueray has' but failed to list the any compelling reasons to buy HD-DVD.

mikmo said,
Can some actually list, or give one advantage of HD-DVD... 'you've said thats the only advantage blueray has' but failed to list the any compelling reasons to buy HD-DVD.

There are no advantages, Both formats do the same thing just slightly differently. Anyone who quotes trash about picture quality or sound is lying because both formats can play pretty much the same codec's
For the record tho, I am a blu-ray supporter simply because it has better studio support

DrCheese said,

There are no advantages, Both formats do the same thing just slightly differently. Anyone who quotes trash about picture quality or sound is lying because both formats can play pretty much the same codec's
For the record tho, I am a blu-ray supporter simply because it has better studio support


doesn't blu-ray have TrueHD sound? not sure what that is, but HD-DVD doesn't have it.

lylesback2 said,

doesn't blu-ray have TrueHD sound? not sure what that is, but HD-DVD doesn't have it.

I think you have your facts mixed up. TrueHD is optional on Blu-Ray players while it is a mandatory codec on HD-DVD players.

Currently, there is better support for TrueHD on HD-DVD discs versus Blu-Ray discs as there are roughly 27 HD-DVD titles that support TrueHD versus roughly 3 or 4 Blu-Ray titles that support TrueHD.

Byron_Hinson said,

So what is the advantage HD-DVD has apart from better compression which is also coming to Blu-Ray titles in the future
which means even better picture and sound on 50gb titles.

Well HD-DVD has much more advantages over Blu-Ray..it is very consumer friendly format. Except for the storage capacity it is better then Blu-Ray in every way. The picture quality and sound are pretty much dead even on both but here's why HD-DVD is better then Blu-Ray:

- iHD - interactive aspects of HD-DVD titles (standards supported by MS, Intel and other big players) - Blu-Ray has Java but it's far from the ease of use and implementation of iHD. That's why you are still not seeing movies with any interactivity on BD while there are a couple of movies with iHD implemented

- Combo capability (it was said that 90% of all HD-DVD titles by the end of the year will be combo) - this means that you can buy an HD-DVD title, play it in an hd-dvd player and then flip the disk and play the same movie in the regular DVD player

- Low costs of manufacturing - existing manufacturing plants don't have to change anything. Disks and publishing of media is done without changes in hardware

- Direct Internet connection utilized by HD-DVD standard for updating firmware on your HD-DVD player as well as communication from the HD-DVD title's iHD experience and web to serve even more content. This is huge as it will allow HD-DVD titles not to be just limited to what you get on HD-DVD.

Blu-Ray released in a mess. It has no standards for manufacturers and this means the only thing that will be able to play all your Blu-Ray discs is the PS3. Once studios start putting java features onto the discs all those $1000 players are essentially bricked..... hmmm. They are so nice to the consumer aren't they.

HDDVD on the other hand has an exact requirement for all players so they can be called "HDDVD" players. You could buy a HDDVD player now and in the years to come it will play all discs.
The interactive iHD software can do some really cool stuff. It can overlay video in any manner you like, currently this is only used for PiP commentary and special features. But, in a demo, it was shown off that the the viewer could change the colour of the cars in a clip from fast and the furious.. at the touch of a button. A section of new video is just placed over the car. Another feature demoed using Smoking Aces let you can connect to google maps in real-time (comes up in a little window) and it plots the positions of all the hit men as the film runs.... very cool creative feature. that's just what Universal is kicking around. They have had the final software to start making these features. Blu-Ray is even a final format yet! They can't even hope to pull this off for a good year or so, and you will have to buy a new player to use it.

Blu-Ray is literally JUST backing on the PS3 for hardware.... How important is the PS2 for DVD's now?
Sure Blu-Ray is selling more than HDDVD but it's selling the one or two discs to many PS3 owners. The numbers barely cover the free discs that are bundled with the unit. In Europe HDDVD outsold Blu-Ray 4:1 before the PS3 launch.

All the internet forum polls I have seen put the average number of discs owned by a HDDVD owner at 3 or 4 times the number of Blu-Ray disc's a PS3 owner has.... You see very few people who have a dedicated Blu-Ray player.

Also there are currently more titles coming up for release on HDDVD than Blu-Ray, they peaked early. The studios are holding back on releasing titles.. loads have been postponed, some till 2008.

So the "war" is a lot of people buying very little or less people buying many many. The early adopter home theatre people have gone HDDVD. If I was a betting man I would go with them...

Oh my God Boz, still spreading the lies and FUD.

Storage capacity is only part of the story. HD DVD is limited to 36Mbps. Blu-ray (BD) 48Mbps.

Java is already in use, titles like "Black Hawk Down" and "Chicken Little" just to name a couple.

Combos? Ha. They raise prices, and Universal has backtracked, even going so far as to DISCONTINUE "Army of Darkness" and "Unleashed" and reissue them as HD DVD only. Ask any Netflix subscriber about which format is more resilient and scratch resistant. Hint: it isn't yours.

Low costs have been another example of FUD. Differences in prices are literally in cents, with your beloved combo disc far and away the most expensive to produce (some 3.5x DVD).

You need an ethernet connection I guess for HD DVD since there isn't enough room. Titles like "King Kong" are leaving off bonus features and lossless audio because of the 30GB limit. Titles like "The Departed" and "Superman Returns" are noticeably soft and have banding artifacts.
Funny you should tout ethernet, like people have their living rooms wired. The wireless solution comes with the $599 PLAYSTATION 3!

Nearly every major electronics maker and computer maker supports Blu-ray.
All major Hollywood studios with the exception of Universal support Blu-ray.

Toshiba is desperate. They are lowering prices and giving away SEVEN HD DVDs now!
Only the cheap and shortsighted, or the most hardcore of Sony hater would back HD DVD at this point.

The Departed doesn't have banding artefacts when I watch it. Superman Returns is soft in comparison to other films because it was originally filmed in 1080p (4:4:4). There is nothing more than can be got out of it...
King Kong has reference quality audio and video... even when up against other titles which do have lossless audio. Universal haven't used TrueHD as much as Warner Bros have. It also has the "U-Control" feature which could easy have been omitted if they "didn't have the space" for TrueHD and were intending to use it.

"All major Hollywood studios with the exception of Universal support Blu-ray."

Well Universal isn't a puny little studio out on it's own...
Number of Distributed films according to IMDB. Which is far from scientific but I would think not that far out.

Blu-Ray exclusive studios.
20th Century Fox = 2995
Disney/Buena Vista/Miramax = 776+792+552=2120
2120+2995= 5115

HDDVD exclusive studios.
Universal = 5220
Weinstein = 104
5220+104=5324

Blu-Ray still does have a large advantage due to Sony's studios. Which go as follows....
Columbia Pictures/MGM/UA - 2924+3755+1941 = 8620

Clearly Universal didn't like the idea of selling it's business out and being at mercy of Sony...

I back HDDVD because it is the better format for playing Movies, it has NO region restriction, which is very important for me. And the titles have had a consistent level of quality since the format launched. Not only that but the 360 drive, as I already had a 360, was really cheap and I can plug it in to a media centre PC very easily. Plus it doesn't require a HDCP connection in order to play 1080p content.
If I want to buy a drive for archiving data in a PC then a Blu-Ray drive would be better.

"Departed" has no banding but is filtered & soft. Note start frames of every shot have the original grain which magically disappears as the shots progress. This is heavy duty noise reduction for heavy compression. The disc also omits the "Scorcese on Scorcese" documentary from the DVD version, something Warner hasn't done before. Why? NO ROOM.

Well Universal isn't a puny little studio out on it's own...
Number of Distributed films according to IMDB. Which is far from scientific but I would think not that far out.

Universal isn't puny but look at box office totals for the past 2 years and you can see they are hurting big time. It's simple economics. Ignore BD and lose millions in sales. They have reshuffled their entire home video division these past few months. The same folks who launched Universal HD DVD are no longer in charge.

Mercy of Sony? How about Panasonic or the dozen other patent holders in Blu-ray?

In what way is it the better format for movies? Consistent quality is easy when you have so little to release. It's all in the master and lately Blu-ray has taken the lead, especially since Universal has to dig deeper into their catalog for releases. Titles like "Army of Darkness" and "Spartacus" are considered some of the worst hi-def out there.

Little to no lossless audio either. Want to talk about quality, sound is 50% of the experience.

You ONLY get 1080p thru VGA connection BTW. Cheaper is cheap, not better. Region restrictions are a non issue, how many folks do you know are importing titles from overseas, add the expense and your "cheap" argument no longer holds.

You also forgot Lionsgate in your exclusives.

HD DVD is doomed. Why anyone would support a hardware monopoly (Toshiba) and a software monopoly (Microsoft) is beyond belief.

Do you actually have the departed on HDDVD or Blu-Ray or you just repeating what you have heard on the internet? Because I do have it on HDDVD, watch it in 1080p and I can assure you it has a dam good image. On the issue of "space" lacking so they could add in the Scorsese doc.... well it's not on the Blu-Ray version so either the "PCM audio took up too much space" and they couldn't fit it on.... or Warner Bros favours HD DVD... from other discs where HDDVD gets additional features and lossless audio omitted from the blu versions, it would seem they do make discs for HDDVD first. So, yeah, they probably couldn't fit it on, but I don't really want to watch it anyway.... when the extra features start getting encoded with VC1 instead of mpeg2 it will be extremely easy to fit such content onto a HDDVD disc... there will be room to spare... or they could just make a 2 disc set with a single layer second disc.... it wouldn't be any more expensive for them to manufacture than a 2 disc dvd set.

Little to no lossless audio either. Want to talk about quality, sound is 50% of the experience.

I totally agree, which is why I prefer that I can buy a HDDVD disc which has required decoding of both lossless audio formats in hardware and a required minimum for software in the shape of a DD+ track. We can't get palmed off with SD audio which so many of those Blu-Ray titles contain.

As for "HDDVD is doomed... " I just don't get how you reason out that a format can die and people are going to lose out. Do you imagine that I, and all the other people who have players and loads of HDDVDs, are going to throw them in the bin and just stop buying more discs one day? I'm not, I have a USB drive which will be easy to add to a media centre for a very very long time. As long as they sell them, I'll buy em. If I and everyone else with a little library of titles keep buying, they will keep selling. The encodes for Blu-Ray will work the same and the manufacturing costs aren't different from DVD. There is no "loss" for them.

Why would I buy into the "toshiba/microsoft monopoly"? and not back Sony's magical format...
I would looooovvveeeee to buy into the Blu-Ray format. Why? Well, I like movies. I would like to not have to think about formats. I don't care about corporations and crap like that, I just care what I can get for my money....I see no possible way for me to buy a Blu-Ray player and get into the format.
reasons....
- I can't buy a set-top player because they are prohibitively expensive. Also I can't get one which has an Ethernet port and is guaranteed to work with the, as yet, un-finalised future BDJ features.
- So the only player I can buy is a PS3 as that is the only Blu-Ray device which will be updated... (talk about Monopoly!! )
- I don't want to buy a game console for that amount of money. The UK PS3 is inferior to the US and Japanese versions and costs 20% higher. Also it has no exclusive games I want.
- Also I would need a HDCP "protected" HDMI input and nether of my HD displays has this.
- There are a grand total of 5! exclusive Blu-Ray titles I want to own. (I have 16 HDDVDs)
- I don't want a region restricted player. I've never purchased a region locked DVD player, sure my xbox360 is but that DVD player is crap and I don't use it... Why would I start a new format and be locked in and be stopped from using my 'free market' rights... last I checked the US doesn't have a trade embargo over the UK.

The HDDVD was offered to me for a reasonable price, there was a wide range of GOOD titles available and plenty for me to buy far into the future. Also, after reading many many review across both formats I could see there was a consistency of features and encode quality for the HDDVD titles, Blu_Ray wasn't at all like that at the time, it impressed me that the HDDVD group was far more organised, and still are. You mentioned Spartacus and Army of Darkness, do I have to go through the list of crappy Blu-Ray discs that has been pedalled to the consumer? You know there are a lot.
So HDDVD IS a better format because I can get it...
Bottom line (or paragraph)... I don't care what you or other people are doing and what might "win" because it has bigger discs. I buy the discs for the films. How long was Blade Runner, Star Wars and other big titles not out on DVD... they weren't out for years. In a few years time, when there are cheap multi-format players, I'll get that and then see about buying some Blu-Ray movies.... if they are still around :P

So does this mean Xbox will cut the price of their HD drive... I think that would go a lot further to increasing HD-DVD acceptance than cut price stand alone players