HD DVD Price Drops while Blu-ray Screws Early Adopters

HD DVD vs. Blu-rayNot sure if this is related to the news of Warner Bros. going Blu-ray exclusive, but Amazon has this Toshiba HD DVD player with seven movies for only $129 (the same one I thought I got a deal on a month ago for $174).

Blu-ray players, of course, are still well above $300. Amazon also has a bunch of HD DVD movies for $15. Interestingly, the site has a Blu-ray movie sale going on at the same time. But the difference between the two sales is a telling story:

The Blu-ray sale has a total of 51 movies on sale with only 8 as low as $15 (and most of them suck). The HD DVD sale, on the other hand, has 84 movies on sale with 63 (nearly 8 times as many) at the $15 price point. And there appear to be some decent movies in this mix. Check out the Blu-ray sale here and the HD DVD sale here and judge for yourself. For me, though, it seems like this could be phase 1 of HD DVD liquidation.

So the million dollar question is: how much is a high definition DVD player worth to you if it is the format that has lost the war?

To add to the irony of the less expensive, more consumer-friendly player dying, check out this news: Buyers Beware: Current Blu-ray Players Won’t Correctly Play Future Discs and Blu-ray: Early adopters knew what they were getting into. The titles alone are enough to get any Blu-ray owner frustrated.

The Playstation 3 (which has Blu-ray built-in) appears to be the exception, otherwise Blu-ray players on the market are designed without “future-compatibility capabilities.” This means that bonus features on titles released starting in October will not be playable on current Blu-ray players. Wow.

What makes it even more ironic is that Blu-ray is blaming HD DVD for its problems:

“When asked why current [Blu-ray] players were released to the market in such a primitive state, [Blu-ray] manufacturers blamed the release of HD DVD and said it forced them to come to market too soon. ‘We should have waited another year to introduce Blu-ray to the public, but the format war changed the situation.’”

*Update* The price for the HD DVD player mentioned above was originally $147 when I first started writing this but is now $129. Amazon tends to play games with pricing; be sure to take advantage of the company’s 30-day price guarantee.

*Update 2* Commenters pointing out some interesting facts: this $129 HD DVD player is 1080i. All Blu-ray players are 1080p (a slightly higher picture quality), though Amazon now has this 1080p HD DVD player on sale for $171, which is still about half the price of any comparable Blu-ray player. Also, Amazon has another Blu-ray movie sale with a much larger selection (229 movies) while putting all HD DVD movies (currently 523) on sale now.

*Update 3* Check out the latest Netflix news of unlimited online movies, which supports the theory that we may be moving toward digital content before a new format (like Blu-ray) can gain traction.

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  • Dave Greiman

    I thought Blu-Ray players could do firmware upgrades if you burn a CD/DVD on your PC?

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  • Andrew

    Blu-Ray players can be updated with the newest firmware, so, in fact in October you will be able to play the newer versions of Blu-ray. I think there were only a very few low end models that did not have this capability, however most players have the ability to be updated through a firmware update so the new version can be played on the player.

  • todd

    Well I thouhgt about dropping my hd-dvd but I decided to stick with it. I do not care if they lose the format war. I do think HD downloads could kill both formats but I think there are too many unanswered questions right now for me to think they will. Portiblity is one of them. Look at all the people who have dvd players in there cars. They might not have a solution for those people. Plus you can not loan movies to your friends either.

    I almost bought a PS3 right after the warner brother news but the price stopped me. I can not back a side that is just so much more expensive with competition.

    I do not care that my hd-dvd player only plays in 1080i since my tv only plays in 1080i.

  • Corey

    In response to
    “Blu-ray players on the market are designed without “future-compatibility capabilities.” This means that bonus features on titles released starting in October will not be playable on current Blu-ray players. Wow.”

    Do some more research. Most early blu-ray players “are” upgradeable. I own three different models which I upgrade about once every couple of months with new software updates.

  • Ronaldo

    Where are the 7 movies. Amazon talks about 2 movies included. Bourne and 300.

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    Ronaldo,

    Right under price and shipping information on the product page it says the following:

    “Free HD DVD Rebate offer: Get 5 Free HD DVDs after Mail-in rebate when you buy a qualifying Toshiba HD-DVD player.”

    This is in addition to the 2 that come up with it, which makes a total of 7.

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  • regeya

    “Looks like some sour losers still trying to spread the same old stupid lies about how Blu-ray and Sony screws the consumers. HD DVD sour losers and Sony haters, you picked the wrong camp, the losing side. Now, just get over it. Like it or not, Sony won.”

    Except they blame the fact that their format isn’t done on a format that was in the works BEFORE Blu-Ray. They’re being dishonest about why the early adopters are getting screwed.

    “LOL. I just love it when this happens because those retarded Sony haters take all this so seriously. Guess what? You are a minority, retards. 99% of the population don’t freaking care about your love/hate of company X.”

    Retarded for following the DVD standards committee, eh? Retarded for betting against a format created by a company with a strong track record of fail? I think we all just failed to realize how much cash Sony was willing to crap to force Blu-Ray to win.

    So, yeah, the ultimately superior format will win, and eventually people like me will buy a player. However, only a fool would buy before the Christmas season since BD Live players won’t be available until at least October. Yeah, I know about the PS3; I’m not going to buy a game console to play movies. so for one more year, I’ll hold off on both HD movie purchases and will hold off on purchasing ANY movies as I don’t want to keep stocking up on SD movies.

    My collection of SD DVDs looks awesome on my HD player though. :-D

    And yes, you can get 5 titles in the mail on top of the included two, which makes for seven. The selection is pretty limited but I’m sure some people will go nuts for movies like Pitch Black and Rattle & Hum.

  • Dee

    “Do some more research. Most early blu-ray players “are” upgradeable. I own three different models which I upgrade about once every couple of months with new software updates.” Well Corey it looks like YOU need to do some research. The only player that can be upgraded via firmware to be made profile 1.1 or 2.0 is the PS3. The Panasonic BD30 is profile 1.1. No other existing players in the wild will be able to upgrade to profile 1.1 via firmware. This is a fact, do some reading. All of the other players out there don’t have the HARDWARE to provide the newer profiles. 1.1 profile machines have to have a secondary video decoder for PIP. 2.0 machines have to have at least 512 MB of internal memory and an ethernet port for BD live. So, in other words all of the other BD standalones out there ARE somewhat obsolete and will NOT play the new next generation features.

  • Kris Erickson

    “As an immediate format its merely ok, as it doesnt have the 1080p of Blu-Ray for longevity” LIE.. HD DVD displays in 1080p, its the players that will/won’t show it.
    A3 1080i (good for me cause my TV is 720p)
    A30 1080p
    A35 1080p

    Yes Blu has a 50gig disk but hardly any of the new movies are released on them, so that is a moot point.

    Sony took a bath of 2 billion on the first year sales of PS3. Its a gaming machine first a player second. If someone said I want to by a DVD player would you recommend them to buy a Xbox Elite???
    IMO Sony has not allowed or given all the information to thier fellow Blu Ray makerss (ie SHarp,Samsung,Pionner, LG etc) is so that they keep releasing players that are not meeting the future goals. This will make ppl ask ” Whats the best Blu ray player to buy.. Well thats the PS3.. The gaming machine”

    If you read alot of forums, you will see tha alot of the 1.0 players can’t play 3:10 to Uma,Sunshine,PoC:3. Sammy 1300 for example I think I do know the unit is a 1300. Oh sure it is being addressed and a patch is due next week but the thing is “Why must I wait for a patch to come out so I can watch my movie I just spent $30+ on?”

    OH. but you know the Toshiba machines since the A2 line all came with 2.0 , pip and they don’t require updates to allow ppl to watch movies.

    Consumers didn’t pick Blu they where forced to go blu. I will contiune to support HD till the last 3 companies change sides. Then I will go back to watching SD movies till the BDA groups can make a dependable player that can equal what Toshiba made.

    OH D/L HD movies… won’t happen any time soon. I’m in Canada where we have laid miles of fiber optics so some places can get high speed d/l. But ya know my home town the fastest connection is still phone lines. You won’t be seeing ppl pulling down HD 1080p with 7.1 DTS surround sound over the phone lines that takes them 5-7hrs, then gotta find a way to hook thier PC to the TV. Tell me how many ppl in all of the US has access to High speed and then ask them if they want to wait 5-6 hrs to get that HD movie to d/l. OH sure MoD is coming but do you actually own the movie or just rent it? What if 2 yrs from now you want to rewatch the movie from MoD will it still be there? Will you have to pay for it again?

    Sorry but d/l media won’t be happening for atleast 10yrs till they can get the delievery faster, then they have to get ppl to start hooking thier PC’s to the Tv’s..

  • Eric

    Sorry guys, most people don’t care about either format. The studios care a lot more about these formats than the consumers do, because they see it as a way to juice more out of each movie sale. Most consumers simply don’t care that much about the extra pixels. Most actors could do without the extra definition… low definition is the poor-man’s airbrush post-processing.

    But for the AV-obsessed of you who’ve dropped thousands on your setups, complete with “ultra-high quality” snake-oil cables, you can have your Blu-ray. Enjoy having your wallet in bed with Sony.

    Digital distribution is the real future… disc-based movie distribution formats are going to go the way of the music CD sooner or later. It already has for most of the college students I know. The adults and movie studios will catch up at some point.

  • Eric

    And, people will not have to hook traditional PCs to their TVs to get movies over the internet. Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and a bunch of other companies are racing to get their respective internet enabled consumer-electronic style PCs attached to peoples home theaters. The XBox is a tightly locked down PC, as is the PS3, and AppleTV.

    Even the iPhone is a PC capable of streaming movies over the web.

    And broadband penetration is increasing. As of ’07, >80% of internet-going households in the US were on broadband, and the broadband companies are increasing the speed of their connections fairly frequently.

  • Zaxxon

    Who wants 1080i? That’s not cheap- that’s el cheapo. Besides, most “early adopters” are PS3 owners, but the HD DVD camp won’t have any of that- never mind the fact that disc sales don’t jive with their player sales data.

  • juan

    READ READ!!!

    Toshiba is seriously thinking of not turning a short profit just to gain future dominance on the future of HD. Warner Bros & Paramount have left and Toshiba will regain them very soon(2 months). Millions of HD players will be sold leaving the movie studios NO CHOICE but to once more make HD DVD’s for the players. The only way that Blue Ray will get supremacy is if they have a player under $199 on the shelf by April 2008. NOT A CHANCE. Remember that one of the factors that allowed VHS to beat BETA was that they had the contract to adult film. This time around Toshiba has the contract to HD DVD. Toshiba will have 1080i players under $100 by the end of February and 1080p players for about $175 this is how they will prevail. (inside info.)

  • regeya

    juan, I bought one of the HD-A3s (lightning took out my TV, some stereo equipment, and a combo DVD/VCR unit, so I was in the market) and I hope you’re right; however, the studios want their stronger drm and in all reality even though the format sucks the blu discs are higher capacity by design.

    I think it’ll still go Blu, and if it does, I have a good DVD player until then thanks to the A3 I have something which plays DVDs exceedingly well on an HD set, and I can wait until this fall or winter when newer, fully-capable players come out, or even later if they’re too high-priced.

    On the other hand, if your blue-sky scenario comes true, I already have a player.

    Either way, I feel I’ve won. It’s good to be me. :-D

  • Eric

    Check out the new Apple TV + movie rentals/purchases directly on your TV, even in HD. It’s the beginning of the end for disc formats.

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  • Johnny

    I’ll just stick with regular DVD, and spend my money on a new mountain bike. You wouldn’t believe the resolution, contast, sharpness and color of the outside real world.

    Seriously though, DVD does everything I need and it’s going to be around for a while. Pair it with an upconverting player and a good HD LCD TV and bingo, good watchin’

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    Johnny, I nominate your comment for the “best comment on the post” award. Priceless!

  • regeya

    Heh, Johnny, your comment is brilliant. Nice reminder to get outside once in a while. :-)

    Yeah; like I said above, I bought an HD DVD player, but at the price it was, it wasn’t really a loss, not really. I mean, cheaper than an Oppo and comparable quality…ok, I already went through all that so I won’t again, but right now the Blus aren’t ready (I know this’ll start a flame war, but it’s true, it’s still early, guys, chill…) and in two or three months I’ll start on a 6-month period where I’ll only watch TV for about 30 minutes a day, absolute tops. By the time I can watch TV again, BD-Live will be ready to go and will hopefully be at a decent price point.

    So yeah…good call man. Stick with DVD, it’s pretty darn good.

  • Paul Ellis

    Looks like someone started an online petition to “save” HD-DVD. Here’s the link if anyone wants to sign it.
    petitiononline.com/SAVEHDD

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  • Binston

    Streaming in the end, I feel would be the best solution. I will NOT however take a bath like the average consumer buying a dumbed down box from Apple (apple tv!?! wtf?), Sony, etc. I have a PC in my house that serves that purpose and much more. That little box that fits neatly in your entertainment center is a lame PC. Dont get bent over the rail here people…how many of you have a PC lying around the house doing nothing these days? People will go and buy the Apple TV and leave their 3 year old mac in the closet. EVERYTHING the internet ready boxes do, my PC does better. Web, video, photos, anything else…Oh yeah and I can play Half Life 2 online at 1920 X 1080!! I will host a server and all of those people who own an Apple TV can join. Really tho, its not that I hate apple or those little boxes. I just hate that those boxes (ANY mfg model) are marketed as the best thing ever. Who they should be targeted at is people with no understanding of technology, or who are still using a Packard Bell PC/Apple IIe (an insanely old computer). Its just frustrating how people complain about the sloth like nature of tech adoption these days, yet love on consumer hating huge companies these days (sony IS the easy target) and just soak up all the mediocre crap thats spooned out these days.

    HD content is here, to stay. Where it will live is really yet to be determined. I would like to see streaming win the “format war” as I have all the equipment I need now to handle it. A decent PC. No $400+ player with $25+ movie disks. That sounds like a much easier transfer to me. For full disclosure, I own a 42″ LCD 1080p TV and HD-DVD player. HD-DVD seems like the lesser of two evils to me, even tho it may die off in 1-2 years. I may end up “losing” that money, but I have spent only $170 on the A3 and got 9 movies. I dont like sony so no blu-ray for me. My past with sony is this:

    Sony 50″+ rear projection TV with bad main board after 14 months ($980 part, repair declined, toss TV)

    DSC-717 camera $1200 when they came out. Memory stick capacity a joke, dead CCD after 15 months. Toss camera.

    Sony $400 DVD player when they first came out. Lens outta whack after 13 months. $275 repair, declined, toss player.

    I LITERALLY have nothing in my home sony now cause it has all broken. I bought all that stuff around the same time and my opinion of Sony is that they mfg stuff to last just past the warranty period. The other thing is that once it is dead, it costs less to replace it than repair it due to tech prices dropping. Sony’s business model doesnt include customer support at all. The least they could do to maintain customers is sell parts at cost on older models to keep customers. Instead I get the impression they double part costs. Just MY experience and I am only ONE person. I am quite sure there are millions of people who have bought nothing but sony and had good luck. Thats fine, but sony has lost me as a customer. I have no real plans on buying a PS3 just to watch movies since its the only completely future-proof Blu-Ray player (future-proof only as long as blu-ray lasts). That seems like it was setup that way, and without the consumer in mind.

    Neither format is “bad”. Just different, and those differences are disappering. Both do 1080p and have great sound. The only thing HD-DVD has really now is PiP en-mass, and Blu-Ray should be doing something about that soon enough.

    To answer Crackinhedz, sure sure, as we all know, every DVD pressed from the studio comes in glorious Dolby mono, I can’t imagine anyone needing more. I believe that goes back to my statement about the “elitits”. “Well if it isn’t (Scottish!!) Dolby TruHD then its CRAP!” The average consumer doesnt have the equipment to run 7.1 TruHD. Dolby digital 5.1 or there abouts is the best 90% of the market has. But its the same as with ALL tech, the top 10% drive the market. Nvidia makes a new video card, sells it for $500+. They sell 100,000+ worldwide. Then the next year they introduce a watered down version of the same card for $250+, that sells millions worldwide. But those hardcore enthusists are what drives the market when they soak up those $500+ cards.

    All I am saying is thanks for driving the market, but dont act like ur the majority.

    To everyone in general:

    What ur doing is inflicting your tastes forcefully on others when you start screaming “X FORMAT IS DEAD! MOVE ON PEOPLE!” Then you yell at someone else for saying the opposite. What ur doing is no better than ANY mfg forcing a format on us consumers, which you just yelled about. You can’t yell about having HD-DVD forced on you and then go be a “fanboy” for the other side. You are no better.

    Bah, no one will stop what they are doing anywho. Thats why these format wars get passed over by me. Just don’t go screaming at any one person unless you know their situation or reasons for buying one format or the other. Another disk format is bad, so they both lose in that regards. If there was a decent HD movie download service that was good, fast, and NOT riddled with crappy DRM, i would drop all my disks today.

  • mike

    I just bought the Toshiba A-3.. Why because It was only 125 dollars. so what if it’s a 1080i player. Unless you have a screen much larger than 50 inches then your eyes won’t even notice the difference. AND if your set is 1080p then it “upconverts” the signal anyway. The SD dvd upconversion is superior to my other SD dvd player and the quality is near HD. AND I am perfectly happy with it. Blu ray will have to come down significantly for me to buy one. Until then all other movies not offered in the HD DVD line will only be watched with the upconversion. Blu ray Disc prices still way to high. Blu-Ray should have had version upgrade ability on all players since day one. End of story.

  • Paul Ellis

    That’s what is going to make things really interesting. With players down to $125 (not just online either), that is going to drive a lot of demand for the players. When I was in Sam’s club, they had one HD-DVD player and one Blu-ray player (excluding the PS3 which doesn’t even have or accept a remote control). The HD-DVD player was $128, the Blu-ray player was $374. Keep in mind that HD-DVD still has Warner until May, and most regular people (i.e. not us…) can’t name which studios put out discs in what format.

    If HD-DVD can really push the adoption some studios may have to switch back to at least being format neutral. With good name brand HDMI upscaling DVD players selling for ~$99, I think we’re going to see a lot of people spend $25-$30 more to get HD-DVD capabilities. Nevermind the fact that for $126 on Amazon.com you get the HD-DVD player PLUS SEVEN movies, that is just a really good deal.

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  • HD

    Has anyone beside me heard that Toshiba signed with the LARGEST INDUSTRY IN THE WORLD, porn.It will blow sony out of the water

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