Toshiba officially launches HD DVD in US, but players are scarce

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Despite the odd store placing HD DVD players on their shelves as early as last Friday, Toshiba has officially launched the HD DVD format in the US on Tuesday, April 19th with two Toshiba HD DVD player models and three Warner titles.  The players have a retail price of $500 for the HD-A1 and $800 for the HD-AX1 and the titles have pricing of between $24 and $35.

Before anyone decides to go rushing out just yet, getting your hands on one of these will not be easy due to how scarce they are.  According to some estimates, only around 10,000 to 15,000 units actually shipped to US stores, which is a clear sign that the initial stock will be quickly sold out.  For those interested in purchasing a player from an online store, most online stores either show the player on-order or currently unavailable. 

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Finally,
with only three HD DVD titles currently available as part of the launch, it is not like there will be any eye-catching shelves of HD DVD titles yet for another while.  The titles that debuted along with the HD DVD launch include The Last Samurai, The Phantom of the Opera and Serenity.  Warner has delayed the HD DVD title, Million Dollar Baby due to issues with the HD DVD master.   Universal expects to begin releasing titles on HD DVD as well as hybrids this fall.

After several false starts, Toshiba has officially fired the first salvo in the race for the high-definition capable successor to DVD. Today marked the official launch of HD-DVD, the format backed by Toshiba. (The first Blu-ray Disc players, for the format backed by Sony and a slew of consumer electronics companies and studios, are due to ship in June.) Toshiba’s HD-DVD players, the $500 HD-A1 and $800 HD-AX1, officially went on sale today; so too did three movie titles from Warner Home Video.

However, it would seem that HD-DVD’s proponents didn’t quite meet their goal of a coordinated launch between software (read: Hollywood movie titles) and players. With only those three titles from Warner now available (two of which–The Phantom of the Opera and The Last Samurai–I already have in my hands), it’s not like store shelves are screaming with eye-catching content begging for buyers. More titles will be streaming into stores over the next few weeks, from both Warner and Universal Studios (the only studio still standing solely in the HD-DVD camp).

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Some further info can be found on this Forbes Article.

With such a tiny selection of HD DVD titles and players costing more than a sophisticated HDD+DVD recorder, I would recommend waiting another while yet before forking out on one.  By the time a decent selection of HD DVD titles reach the shelves, chances are that player’s pricing will have come down a bit and possibly an improvement in the player’s specification.  With Blu-ray just a month away, it would also be wise waiting for its debut to see how well it starts off.

Feel free to discuss about HD DVD and Blu-ray players on our forum.

Source: PC World News

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