The HD-DVD Camp has struck the first blow, as Toshiba’s HD-A1 HD-DVD player is now available at retail stores. Coming in at a surprisingly affordable $499 for the hardware, this “first of its kind” player is priced cheaper than the initial DVD players of 1997. The ability to own your favorite blockbuster hits in actual high-definition quality is something that early adopters have been looking forward to for longer than most would care to admit. Unfortunately, HD-DVD needs more than just the early adopter if they’re going to be successful this time, and it’s anyone’s guess if they’re going to make it.
Why is HD-DVD’s success questionable?
Good Price, but Competition Looms
First and foremost, it won’t be the only game in town for long. Sony, Dell, and an army of other bigwig electronics companies have their own format, known as Blu-Ray, coming this summer. (Check out the article “HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Not To Merge – War on the Horizon” for more.) While the Blu-Ray folks have some advantages in terms of technology, initial reports are that they’re pricing themselves right out of the market from the get-go. The first Blu-Ray players are expected to debut at nearly double the price of HD-DVD. It looks like HD-DVDs approach to not completely redesign the technology wheel is paying off in terms of affordability.
Prices will drop on Blu-Ray hardware as time passes, but their biggest ticket to success comes in the form of a game console. Sony’s Playstation 3 will be equipped with a Blu-Ray drive, and though a price for the system hasn’t yet been announced, anything over $500 would practically hand the console war over to Microsoft AND guarantee Blu-Ray’s failure as the next dominant format. Microsoft is expected to release a HD-DVD add-on for the XBOX 360 sometime in the near future. Pricing has not yet been formally announced, but anything reasonable could give HD-DVD the early success it needs to stay on top for the long haul.
Software is double-edged sword, and cannot be used as a determining factor for HD-DVD’s success. Each has lined up a good number of studios that will support one or the other, but it’s split just about even enough to be considered a tie. Some of the titles you want will be for HD-DVD, others for Blu-Ray.
HD-DVD does have one good advantage when it comes to software…price. Retail prices on HD-DVD movies that are currently available are selling between $18 and $25, higher than regular DVD titles, but not by much. Blu-Ray discs will cost more to manufacture in the beginning, which will be felt at retail with prices expected to start at $29 per movie and go up from there. Surely a plus for HD-DVD, but only if the movie you want is available.