Saturday, October 27, 2007

Toshiba and Wal Mart to Sell HD DVD Players for $198

Toshiba Corp. and Wal-Mart retail stores have started to sell Toshiba HD-A2 entry-level HD DVD players at a price-point that may attract attention of mainstream buyers and considerably broaden the installed base of HD DVD hardware. With players costing just $198 a unit it is logical to expect other HD DVD devices, namely, computer optical drives, to drop in cost too.

“We reduced our HD DVD Toshiba [HD-A2] player, the generation-two, to $198 earlier in the week. It’s happening now, and that’s really all I can tell you. We don’t give any information on what we’re planning to do for the holidays. We know HD DVD and Blu-ray are going to be popular items this holiday season for some of our customers. […] They will be more popular this year than they were in previous years,” said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Melissa O’Brien, reports Fortune Magazine.

Toshiba HD-A2 is an entry-level HD DVD player capable of HD DVD, DVD and CD playback as well as hardware decoding of H.264 (MPEG4 AVC), VC-1 and MPEG2 (standard DVD) streams.

Additionally, the player features Sharc DSP to process audio in Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD (2 channel), DTS and DTS-HD formats. The player can output video in 720p (1280x720) and 1080i (1920x1080) resolutions using HDMI or component interconnection and multi-channel audio using HDMI or S/PDIF connectors.

Earlier Toshiba HD-A2 players cost $299 and numerous stores bundled five HD DVD movies with them. Therefore, $198 price-point is not something particularly new, as customers will also need to get several movies in high-definition format to take advantage of their new players.

Given that HD DVDs still cost more than typical DVDs, the former will still attract more advanced buyers, who know what high-definition actually is.

By selling its HD-A2 at $198, Toshiba makes HD DVD available at half the price of an entry-level Blu-ray disc (BD) player, a significant achievement and a way to push the HD DVD format into the mainstream market. Even though all BD players can output in 1080p (1920x1080, progressive scan) resolution, their price starts at over $400, whereas advanced HD DVD players with 1080p capability start at about $350.

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