Friday, November 30, 2007

Gear: The HD Format War (continued)

The Toshiba HD-A3 arrived earlier this week and I promised I was going to write about my experience with it. Unfortunately, the installation of the player was so simple, I don't have much to write. I plugged it in, connected it by HDMI cable to my HDTV and it plays all my discs perfectly at 1080i. A perfectly seamless process, unlike most electronics installations these days. Honestly, I wish I had gotten a player sooner. The headaches with playing HD-DVDs on my HTPC were really not worth it, though I did end up with a much lower price and a boat-load of free HD-DVDs.

Instead, here's some more about the HD format war. With the Christmas shopping season on, things are certainly heating up. Word is that Toshiba sold 90k HD-DVD players during the week that the Toshiba HD-A2s went on sale for $98 at Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Good news for them, but HD-DVD still has a smaller installed base compared to Blu-ray when PS3s being used to watch Blu-ray movies are factored in. The entry level Sony player (BDP-S300) is still selling for about twice the Toshiba HD-A3, so we'll how sales go through the holiday season. Toshiba seems well aware that this time is crucial for HD-DVD.

Disc sales numbers for the week including Black Friday are now in, showing an almost 3-to-1 advantage for Blu-ray, up from 2-to-1 in recent months. At first glance, this might seem odd with jump in HD-DVD player sales, but it's pretty likely that a large number of those players were bought as Christmas gifts. The bump in Blu-ray sales could also be explained by high sales of new releases. January disc sales numbers should prove telling.

In any case, I still hold firm to my belief that both formats will live on. Sony CEO Howard Stringer seems to share my view, having recently said he believes the war will end in a stalemate. Naturally, he quickly backpedaled from that position, but the fact that the head of the company arguably winning the war even hinted that we'll end up with a stalemate is pretty interesting.

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