HD-DVD: Life After Death

OK, so Toshiba officially put HD-DVD to sleep a couple of months back. It’s a pity but it’s a fact. Yet today The Register has a piece on how HD-DVD disk sales remain solid since that time.

It’s also a fact that Toshiba folded their hand in the light of studio momentum. It’s not so much that the Blur-Ray camp won the war…the HD-DVD camp walked away from the battle when abandoned by their arms suppliers.

The price of Blu-Ray players remains high, and has even gone up in recent weeks. Further, the current crop of players don’t support many of the more advanced capabilities of the last batch of HD-DVD players. No internet interactivity, etc.

I guess it’ll be a while before we invest in Blu-Ray around here.

Turning The Collapse Of HD-DVD Into An Opportunity

HD-XA1I spent much of this past week in Austin, TX. One evening while on the way back to my hotel I happened past a Circuit City store, so I decided to have a look around. I found something that surprised me a little. They had considerable stock of HD-DVD players.

Now it’s true that Toshiba and everyone involved in the HD-DVD format have thrown in the towel. The great optical disc war of 2005-2008 has past. I see in newspapers HD-DVD players being offered at great price, generally under $100. That’s a good price!!!

Look elsewhere in the store and I see “upconverting DVD players” from other manufacturers selling for > $130 each. There’s an opportunity here folks! HD-DVD players are by definition fine upconverting DVD players, equal or better than the lesser DVD players with upconvertors. It makes perfect sense to pickup an HD-DVD player at a great price even if you never play an HD-DVD.

Did Toshiba Drop HD-DVD Too Early?

Alec Saunders (a fellow Canuck) has an interesting observation about Toshiba and HD-DVD.

IMHO, Toshiba’s comment doesn’t take into consideration Blu-Ray. Not making that statement is political face-saving on their part. Alec argues that they need to move the entire value chain to sell HD-DVD. That means making & selling the technology but also ensuring that the desirable content was readily available. Their trouble is that they were unable to sustain the support of a significant mass of content creators…the studios.

To those of us with HD-DVD players (mine is an HD-XA1) we could see that this battle was over by mid-2007 when HD-DVD releases slowed to a trickle. No new content…no reason to buy the players. At the very same time Blue-Ray releases started to come in good numbers and from a variety of sources.

Now the really good question to ask revolves around did Sony & IBM really make a deal with Toshiba involving dropping HD-DVD in return for additional rights to the cell processor and related manufacturing in the far east?

HD-DVD: The End Is Near

Toshiba HD-XA1 HD-DVD PlayerWe all knew if was coming after the CES debacle earlier this year. The Hollywood Reporter is today reporting that Toshiba will finally kill off HD-DVD some time in the coming few weeks.

How things have changed in just a year. Coming out of CES 2007 the association representing the Adult Video Industry made a statement in favor of HD-DVD over BluRay citing lower production cost and ability to ramp up production faster. Some may recall that long ago a similar position from a similar group was one of the major factors that closed the debate on VHS vs Betamax.

I wonder if my Toshiba HD-XA1 first generation HD-DVD player will ever be considered collectible?

UPDATE: And this hits just keep coming! This time its Wall-Mart dropping support for HD-DVD.

HD-DVD Merchandising At Fry’s: The Look And Sound of Incompetance

I took this picture with the camera in my Blackberry Pearl back in November 2007. I was at Fry’s Electronics in Houston to pick up a few things and thought I’d swing by the TV department to see what was new. I was shocked when I saw the display pictured on the left.

Here you see what could have been a really nice end-aisle display of Toshiba HD-DVD wares. It has one of the nice new Toshiba LCDs, a couple of HD-DVD players and a nice assortment of discs. So what’s the problem you ask?

If you look at what’s on the LCD-TV it’s the local Fox affiliate, off-air in SD running Judge Judy. This is just simply wrong in so many ways.

It’s not HD , it’s SD. It’s not even good quality SD, it’s crappy off-air with no cable. The players are right there in the display. The discs are right there, too!! My guess is that the department staff didn’t or couldn’t work out how to make one disc repeat endlessly, so they just tuned something they might like to watch.

I bet Toshiba paid a considerable sum to mount these displays. I hope they know how great an effort their retail partners made as well.

BTW, when I was seen to be taking a picture I was approached by a salesperson who was otherwise trying to avoid being engaged. He told me to stop and that taking pictures was not allowed in the store. I guess they don’t want their merchandising magic being leaked to competitors.

Netflix Dumps HD-DVD

Sigh, I guess this really is the end of HD-DVD. Today I received a nice email from Netflix telling me very simply that they won’t be handling HD-DVD any longer. They’ll continue to distribute the discs that they have, but there won’t be any more, and they won’t replace any that fail. Customers with HD-DVD as a preference in their account will be automatically transitioned to standard DVD as their account preference.

I guess at some point I’ll be looking for a Blu-Ray player, but not until they get the issue of newer spec profiles worked out. I wouldn’t want to spent $$$ on a player then find that it doesn’t play interactive content.

Update – So it appears that today Best Buy announced withdrawal of their support for HD-DVD as well. Ars Technica has the details.