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First HD-DVD Player Goes On Sale 186

Posted by Zonk
from the vhs-or-betamax dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If you live in Japan, you can get your hands on the first commercially available HD-DVD player as of today. Toshiba has launched the HD-XA1, and hopes for sales in the next year to exceed 600,000 units. The device is set to debut in the states in April. From the article: "The player will sell for 110,000 yen (US$936) in Japan. In that market there will also be a cheaper player, the HD-A1, priced at $500. Toshiba said the price in Japan is based on its expectation that video enthusiasts will be first to adopt the technology, while in the United States, the prices are aimed more at average consumers who are more price conscious." Update: 03/31 18:45 GMT by Z : Quoted article updated, quote updated to match the article.
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First HD-DVD Player Goes On Sale

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  • techie (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:43PM (#15035213) Journal
    even for a techie early adopter, somehow the knowledge that there's a war brewing makes these things quite undesirable. i wonder if the people who actually buy it at this point know what's coming...?
    • Re:techie (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AeroIllini (726211) <[aeroillini] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:48PM (#15035258)
      even for a techie early adopter, somehow the knowledge that there's a war brewing makes these things quite undesirable. i wonder if the people who actually buy it at this point know what's coming...?

      Especially since crippling DRM limiting the fair use rights of paying customers for the sake of stopping a phantom piracy threat are included right there in the spec.

      Yeah, this should go well.
      • Re:techie (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jugalator (259273)
        Yeah, and it doesn't get any better that the competing format is the same, as for the main AACS protection [wikipedia.org]. Additionally, Blu-rays will have a disc identification layer to trace mass production piracy.

        When I'll get any of these next generation formats, it will be once burners have arrived, and for data storage. I'll likely still go for it when the price and availability matures, because the storage amount is quite attractive.
    • Re:techie (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SIGALRM (784769)
      i wonder if the people who actually buy it at this point know what's coming...?
      Yes, and I wonder if the people buying also realize that today, there are virtually zero movies available in that format...
    • Why do they need support for these huge capacity discs when they also mandate mpeg4 compatibility from the players? They can fit a full length movie in HD now on a double layer DVD if they use mpeg4. What is the point?
  • no region coding (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spazoidspam (708589) * on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:44PM (#15035214)
    From TFA: The HD-XA1 has no region coding for the HD-DVD content

    I guess thats a slight incentive to buy this early, but not enough to justify the rest of the horribly crippling DRM features it will have.
    • I guess thats a slight incentive to buy this early, but not enough to justify the rest of the horribly crippling DRM features it will have.

      The discs will work fine for most users. Microsoft has been pushing for mandatory managed copy in HD-DVD. It won't be better and could certainly be worse with Blu-Ray.

  • Math? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AeroIllini (726211) <[aeroillini] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:44PM (#15035215)
    The player will sell for 110,000 yen (US$936) in Japan, which is less than the $800 price tag it will carry in North America.

    $936 $800.

    Smooth.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:47PM (#15035249) Homepage Journal
    And buy essentially the same thing for less than $500 US.

    Remember, the first rule of marketing - early adopters of electronics pay $1000 to $2000, people who can wait for the bug-free version pay $500-$1000, and people who can wait until more than fifty percent adoption pay $300-$500, at the zero, one, and two year marks.
  • by garcia (6573) on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:48PM (#15035264)
    Toshiba expects to sell 600k to 700k of these [engadget.com] units?! There isn't enough shelf-space worldwide to hold those devices at that size.

    They mention in the article that there will be a lower-end version for sale in North America for around $500. I couldn't find any specs or reasons for the lower cost. Anyone else?
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:48PM (#15035266) Journal

    Man, the first people who buy these babies are either crazy, stupid, or just like to spend their highly expendable capital.

    For the consumser's cool $1000 he (or she) gets:

    • a DVD player that may or may not play DVD's at their rated resolution.
    • possible negilible improved quality picture on HD tv's (how many tv's out there are capable of 1080p yet? For that matter, is this unit capable?)
    • a tepid pool of possible available selections
    • a potentially incompatible format and a worthless future library of media (I know lots o' slashdotters will be too young to remember, but I'm not -- think Beta).
    • an unknown quantity -- how onerous will be the DRM on this unit (scary considering this paragraph from the article:
      The player was originally due out late last year, but delays in completing a content protection specification meant Toshiba had to push the launch back a few months. The player goes on sale just over a month after a preliminary version of the specification, called the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), was completed.
      )
    • total isolation in the support world -- good luck trying to troubleshoot these puppies... you're not going to get the help you need at Circuit City, Best Buy, et. al.

    This new unit is not for the faint of heart, but I know the consumers are out there to break ground for the rest of us. God Bless them and their expendable income.

    • Hey I can't fault them for trying. If I could get people to beta test my product while paying me $1000 for the honor, I might go back to writing code!
    • They will play HD-DVD's at high res. There's no argument over this.

      Also, there is *no doubt at all* to anyone who owns an HDTV of any size that DVD's are significantly inferior to broadcast HD programming. When American Idol has a sharper picture than the newest $20 King Kong DVD, something is wrong.

      "Early adopter" gear has never been for the feint of heart. This applies to HDTV's, DVD players, VHS decks, CD players, you name it. You don't buy the first generation of a technology expecting it to work just
      • They will play HD-DVD's at high res. There's no argument over this.

        Oh yeah? Don't be a sucker.

        the eight-company consortium behind AACS will require hardware makers to include the capability to "downrez" (limit the resolution) of high-definition signals sent from players to TVs via analog connections -- including component video. Downrezzing wouldn't occur automatically, but would be triggered if the player recognized a "downrez flag" (called an Image Constraint Token) on a high-definition movie disc.
        --Hi [crutchfieldadvisor.com]

        • And lots of major studios are on record as saying they won't make use of that particular flag.

          The industry learned a pretty big lesson when the market rejected the DivX system back in the late 90s.

          • And lots of major studios are on record as saying they won't make use of that particular flag.

            No. Some major studios are on record saying that they won't use it INITIALLY - they aren't making any promises. Furthermore, some major studioes are strongly in favor of it, notably Paramount, Universal and Time-Warner.

            So, to re-iterate the point from my first post, contrary to the original poster's claims - yes there is BIG argument over playing HD at HD resolution. All the players support the flag, so any stud
    • Right on.

      In a couple years we'll be playing HD-DVD and Blu-ray through a $40 player made by Apex with a "Secret Menu".

    • And yet... (Score:2, Informative)

      by everphilski (877346)
      Man, the first people who buy these babies are either crazy, stupid

      And yet the people who blew $2500+ on the first run of apple MacBook Pro's werent crazy or stupid, weren't they? Funny how perception changes based on the product and the vendor...
      • And yet the people who blew $2500+ on the first run of apple MacBook Pro's werent crazy or stupid, weren't they? Funny how perception changes based on the product and the vendor...

        More like the based on the added value of the product.

        When you bought a MacBook Pro at launch, how many of the features were usable right out of the box during the first year after launch? But when you buy a HD-DVD, given the lack of media, for the first year, people will essentially have a really expensive box that will only
    • The "think Beta" argument doesn't work. Beta and VHS were physically different shapes; HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc are physically the same size, so making a "dual format player" is indeed possible (and in fact, has already been announced). HD DVD vs BD is more like DVD-R vs. DVD+R. Eventually burners/players/etc. will just support both.

      FWIW though, I plan on diving in with Blu-ray when it ships in May/June (The Fifth Element should be awesome).
  • You now too can be the envy of all your friends, and in 3 years you can pull your hair out because TVs will only come with HDMI X-TREME DRM that will be incompatible with your player. Congradulations! Big companies win!
    • You now too can be the envy of all your friends, and in 3 years you can pull your hair out because TVs will only come with HDMI X-TREME DRM that will be incompatible with your player.

      DRM is essentially the same in both systems. The only substantial question remaining is that of mandatory managed copy: hard disc backup in high definition, home networking, and related issues.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    From the article, in hopes that it will make the "936 less than 800" issue clearer... somehow.

    "The player will sell for 110,000 yen (US$936) in Japan. In the North American market there will also be a cheaper player, the HD-A1, priced at $500. Toshiba said the price in Japan is based on its expectation that video enthusiasts will be first to adopt the technology, while in the United States, the prices are aimed more at average consumers who are more price conscious."
  • Great little buy... I'll just put in my nonexistant HD-DVD movie titles... I'm starting to really like this imagination game.
  • I'll pass... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr_burns (13129) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:04PM (#15035413)
    ...on both HD-DVD and Blu Ray. Holographic storage hits the market within a year with much greater density and throughput. Online movie distro music store style is likely to hit even before then.

    So there's absolutely no point in investing a grand in a technology which will be obsoleted within a year. I'll throw a holo drive in a MythTV, get my movies online legit and tell the consumer electronics manufacturers to suck it.
    • there should be an "Excellent" at the end of your post.

      My sentiments exactly, FWIW.

    • Holographic storage hits the market within a year with much greater density and throughput.

      You could have said that 5 years ago...

      Three-cheers for Vaporware!

      Online movie distro music store style is likely to hit even before then.

      Nobody is going to wait 20 hours, with their DSL connection maxed-out, to download a single HDTV movie. Online distribution is probably decade off.

      So there's absolutely no point in investing a grand in a technology which will be obsoleted within a year.

      Obviously true, but since you

  • I don't think so. At those prices, I wouldn't call the target market "price conscious."

    Toshiba said the price in Japan is based on its expectation that video enthusiasts will be first to adopt the technology, while in the United States, the prices are aimed more at average consumers who are more price conscious.

    I, as a real price conscious consumer, would never buy something like this for so much. The cons just greatly outweigh the pros at this point.

  • component-sized dvd player: $25-50
    hd-dvd player: $800-936

    They don't call it the "bleading edge" of technology for nothing.
  • by no_opinion (148098) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:12PM (#15035488)
    New HD-DVD player: $980
    HD-DVD titles: priceless (there aren't any, yet)
    Not being able to record: priceless
    Owning a player for a soon-to-be dead format: priceless

  • To quote Luke Skywalker, "Look at the size of that thing." [gearlive.com]
  • Average Consumer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Toshiba said the price in Japan is based on its expectation that video enthusiasts will be first to adopt the technology, while in the United States, the prices are aimed more at average consumers who are more price conscious

    Since when is $500 an afordable price for the 'average' consumer being that the 'average' consumer still doesn't own an HDTV (thus gets no benefit out of a HD-DVD player)?

    Honestly I hope people reject HD-DVD and Blu-Ray and stick with Progressive scan DVD players for one reason, I'm sic
  • I can't wait to put one of these babies next to my DVD-A and SACD players so that I can experience high-quality video as well as high-quality audio!

    Oh wait... I don't have a DVD-A or SACD player.

    • I have an SACD player - simply because I have a Sony DVD player. I don't generally buy CDs, much less SACDs.... besides, It states in the manual that the SACDs can only be output throught the analog jacks on the player. another useless AD conversion step...

      Bleh

      I completely forgot where I was going with this...Never mind.

    • That's good because those DVDAs spread you open like a Thanksgiving turky.
  • by chmilar (211243) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:28PM (#15035666)
    Wake me up when:
    1. I can get a player that will play all formats: BD, HD-DVD, DVD-movie, VCD, Audio CD, Divx on ISO/UDF, MPEG-TS on ISO/UDF, and the new Chinese format (EVD).
    2. The DRM scheme has been cracked, so I don't have to worry about getting locked out from media I have purchased.
    3. There is a decent selection of movies, especially foreign/indie/arthouse titles.
    4. It is affordable.
  • by Whom99 (673995)
    Specifications from the Toshiba Web Site: http://www.tacp.toshiba.com/hddvd// [toshiba.com]

    Video
    -----
    Disc Playback: HD-DVD/HD-DVD-R/DVD/DVD-R/DVD-RAM/DVD-RW/CD/CD-R/C D-RW
    HD Content via HDMI (Disc Native Resolution)
    Video Up-conversion for SD DVD (720P/1080i)
    11-but / 216 MHz Video DAC
    Enhanced Black Level (DIRE /7.5 IRE)
    Letterbox and Pan & Scan Support

    Audio
    -----
    Built-in Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, and TDS decoders
    Dolby True HD Compatible (2 channel)
    Four 32-bit Floating Point Processors
    Multi-Channel 24-bit /
  • $100 a pop (Score:3, Funny)

    by grumpyman (849537) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:30PM (#15035686)
    In 2 years, they'll probably be available for ~$100 at Walmart.
    • Yes, and those $100 Wal-mart HD-DVD players will probably work right up until a few days after the warranty expires...
  • Class action? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:37PM (#15035727) Homepage
    Since Toshiba is the manufacturer of the player, has Toshiba manufactured any "HD Ready" televisions that would render HD-DVDs at a lower resolution due to DRM? If so, once the player reaches the U.S., wouldn't Toshiba be open to a class action lawsuit for false advertising? The argument would of course hinge on whether over-the-air satisfies the advertisement, or whether due to the advent of the VCR three decades ago that playback of prerecorded media is a reasonable consumer expectation.
    • But I don't see how they would be open to a lawsuit.

      The TV displays content input just fine.

      The HD-DVD player just may refuse to output full res sometimes. It probably mentions this in the manual (oh god I hope it doesn't have a EULA!).

      It's not a fault of the TV, I don't see the basis of the lawsuit.

      Besides, at the time these TVs were sold, there was no such thing as an HD-DVD player. It all was OTA HD and W-VHS. So I'm not sure the user has any expectation that it will work perfectly with all future device
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:37PM (#15035728) Homepage
    The sooner the format tanks, the rarer it will be, and the sooner the early units will become valuable.

    Buy it now and put it in your garage next to your jar of mint-condition Susan B. Anthony dollars, your Coleco Adam, and your Gemstar REB-1100 eBook.

    Bound to be worth a fortune; your grandchildren will be so grateful.
  • Okay, so HDTV looks somewhat better.

    That said, it sure ain't worth anything remotely like the price I'll need to pay to update my video equipment. There's the television itself, the *VD player and oh, by the way, how do I get my VHS VCR to work with the new HDTV? (I've got a lot of home movies on VHS which I personally couldn't care less about, but my wife'll kill me if I lose 'em!)

    I'm not even going to mention my PC with the ATI All-in-wonder TV card in it. Well, since I just did, yes I will. How 'bou

    • Pretty much anybody who is in the market for this will have a home theater reciever which has the ability to take multiple input sources. People who aren't enough of an audiophile to care about Dolby 7.1 or whatever to get a reciever probably are not the intended demographic.
    • how do I get my VHS VCR to work with the new HDTV?

      You plug it into the composite video/s-video and audio jacks, just like we've been doing with regular TVs for over 2 decades.

      Yeesh, are people seriously this ignorant about technology?

  • ...my square watermelon?

  • I bought a Sony DVD player in 1997 for $1000.

    But there is no way I would touch this new HD-DVD/Blu-ray hardware with a ten-foot cattle prod. Let's see.... Can't play HD on my Sony HDTV (no HDCP, oh well!), The Man just wants to further restrict my fair use, and the benefits of the format change are ZERO from a practical standpoint (form factor, no rewinding, etc that made change from VHS to DVD so obvious).

  • $800 > $936
  • Not worth it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Brix Braxton (676594) on Friday March 31, 2006 @03:12PM (#15036520) Homepage
    Thinking about this the other day - I looked over my DVD collection and made a mental note of how many times I watched each of the movies I paid for. My logic was that I would have to watch most movies more than 4 times to really benefit from ownership (guessing I pay about $20 per DVD). In the end - my entire collection was a loss - most of my movies I haven't watched more than twice - not that I don't like them, I do - but there are so many other things to watch between the Tivo and DVD that it's not possible. Using this logic - $900 for an HDDVD player = I could watch 225 HDTV movies via PPV or On Demand before it even became a consideration - not to mention all of the content I would get on Showtime or HBO HD. I know ownershp has it's merits but I think I'm ready to kick the habit and leave the spot empty on my home theatre rack. Just my opinion.
  • How hard could it be to create a player that has BluRay and HD-DVD support built into one? It would probably need two lasers and two decoders but seriously, how hard could that be? It seems like if every player had support for both, the issue of BluRay vs HD-DVD would be moot. It would be up to the studios to decide which format they use, but the consumer wouldn't even need to know the difference. With a universal player, you wouldn't even have to know which disk format you have and since the disks look

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