The next-gen HD DVD format appeared in stores this week. Toshiba introduced two players, a basic $499 model and a premium model for $799. And the machines have already sold out. The fact that the initial batch was relatively small (reportedly 10,000 to 15,000 units) undoubtedly helped. Still, the sales are surprising considering how few films have been released — The Last Samurai, Phantom of the Opera and Serenity. It helps that Netflix is carrying those HD discs and they are selling well on Amazon (cult sci-fi film Serenity was number 149 on Amazon’s DVD charts when I checked last night).
Despite the solid start, the future success of HD DVD is still questionable. There will be a steady trickle of films each week, but by the end of the summer, Sony’s rival Blu-ray format will be released and HD DVD won’t have the market to itself. Though Blu-ray players have been announced at higher prices of $1000+, many expect Sony to put up a good fight. While the two formats will create confusion for consumers, hopefully the competition will quickly reduce the cost of the players.
How cheap does a high definition movie player need to be for you to buy one?