Toshiba has today released the first HD-DVD player.
The Japanese release will be a big PR boost for the HD-DVD camp in their long running battle for the next-gen High Definition DVD format with Blu-ray. Toshiba said they plan to release the HD-DVD player in the US by the middle of next month and computers equiped with HD-DVD in April-June this year.
It will retail for 110,000 yen ($934, £539, E772) and Toshiba are hoping to sell 600,000 to 700,000 of the new machines globally in the fiscal year ending in March 2007.
As we’ve all learned, it’s not just the hardware that is important, it’s the amount of content available. Toshiba said they expected to have 150-200 films available in the format by December.
The next-gen DVD players offer considerably larger levels of storage, needed because High Definition video content is much higher resolution, therefore bit-hungry. They are also taking the opportunity to store lots more content on them, in an attempt to add value. The current DVD format does not have enough storage available to hold a feature film.
Where the Toshiba-lead HD-DVD will win with the public is in the simple extension of the DVD name, incorporating HD which everyone either does know about, or will do after the advertising frenzy around this years World Cup.
The battle between the two formats has astounded many people, many of whom simply throw their eyes to the ceiling wondering how Sony could re-live the VHS vs Betamax headache for them. It’s quite clear that Sony and their partners are determined not to loose this argument, apparently at any cost.
Sony, who have been selling Blu-ray equipment in Japan since 2003, plan to start selling their next-gen player, Blu-ray in the USA starting in July with a price of around $1,000.