Toshiba, backer of the HD DVD standard for next-generation high-definition disc players, is reacting to the move of many Hollywood studios to exclusively offer their entertainment on rival Sony's Blu-ray format. By "reacting," I mean "slashing their prices to the bone."
Toshiba's third generation 1080i-capable HD-A3 is selling for a mere $139.98 on Amazon.com. The 1080p-capable HD-A30 is not much more expensive at $179.98. For the price of an Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on, consumers can now purchase a fully-fledged set top box with 1080p support.
Amazon isn't the only retailer with the discounted pricing, however. Tiger Direct is selling the HD-A3 for $129.99 and the HD-A30 for $179.99. There are also reports that Sam’s Club and Costco are selling the HD-A3 for as little as $128.
In addition to the lower prices, customers who purchase Toshiba's HD DVD players are still eligible to receive five free movies via a mail-in rebate -- this is in addition to the two movies, 300 and The Bourne Identity, which come in the box.
Sony had a few things going for them in this tussle over formats. The Blu-ray disc can hold more content, and Sony could count on each Playstation 3 they sell to add a Blu-ray format customer to the rolls. Toshiba's move will work for them one of two ways: it will sell enough units to offer an installed customer base worth supporting by the entertainment studios, or perhaps recoup some of Toshiba's overhead costs for setting up factories to produce them. The second option will be a cold comfort for consumers if they end up with a hi-def paperweight in a few years. Too little, too late, I fear, for HD DVD. BTW; am I the last person in the world satisfied with the video quality of regular DVDs?