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Image Courtesy Ron-P,
BestBuy stores are getting limited supplies of Toshiba's HD-DVD player

Toshiba's many times delayed HD-A1, HD-DVD player has finally been shipped to retail locations including BestBuy even though titles are not yet available. Ron-P from Surf City, CA, a member of the AVSForum website, has thrown down his cash for the set top player, about $578.73 including a $40 service plan and tax in his market.

Toshiba's HD-DVD players began shipping in Japan the last of March and the American consumer market has been waiting on the devices since their announcement. With a few delays due to reasons of content availability and some premature launch date announcements, the player is finally here in the US.

Content is expected within the next few weeks, but many are not completely optimistic as HD-DVD titles have been delayed a few times already.

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By THEREALJMAN73 on 4/17/2006 4:02:09 PM , Rating: 2
Why would anyone buy this?
1) No standard format yet
2) No movies
3) Holds less space than b-ray

I don't see any reason to even concider this device. It's only apeal is name recognition which may be enough to make it a winner but I hope not. HD-DVD sounds a lot better than Blu Ray.

RE: Why??
By QueBert on 4/17/2006 4:11:13 PM , Rating: 2
some people need the latest technology. As far as HD not having support, true. But, this one's $299, where the first Bluray will be over a thousand. I'd go with this if price was an issue,HDDVD will have plenty of support shortly

RE: Why??
By brshoemak on 4/17/2006 4:18:09 PM , Rating: 2
We need early adopters will to shell out big bucks for new (possibly buggy) hardware so we can all bask in the glory of Hi-Def. I would honestly like to see the two standards fight for a while. A war of HD-DVD vs. Blue-Ray would force both sides to make concessions to the other to stay competitive. Lower prices for Blue-Ray, higher capacity for HD-DVD. Even when one of them fails, the winner *should* at that point have the best of both worlds. One can hope at least.

RE: Why??
By Madellga on 4/17/2006 4:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
I know very little about both technologies, but it looks like that HD-DVD allows the user to make "controlled" copies of the content, like for portable players.
Microsoft likes it.

Blue-Ray doesn't allow anything. And it is the format most studios want. And it is the Sony format.

For that alone, I would rather support HD-DVD....

PS: Does anyone knows if these knew formats will have also Regions like DVDs?

Mandatory Managed Copy
By hmurchison on 4/17/2006 4:54:49 PM , Rating: 2
The copying feature is a function of the AACS copy protection. Mandatory Managed Copy allows for the DRM'd copy of a movie to be put on a drive. Both formats should allow this but they're still fleshing things out first. MMC won't be free most likely.

I believe the USA and Japan are now in the same region so you Anime fans now don't have to go through exorbitant means to get your movies.

RE: Why??
By bunnyfubbles on 4/17/2006 5:09:59 PM , Rating: 2
On the contrary, I thought the industry wants HDDVD due to its easy upgrade from DVD. Sony is one thats pushing BluRay mostly because its their baby, and since they're also in the movie industry they have some influence to get some others on their side.

By Exodus220 on 4/17/2006 6:44:14 PM , Rating: 2
Sony has stated that their BluRay games for the PS3 will not be region coded and will work for any PS3 in any area...they said this is most likely possible because the disc is so big so they have room to place two versions on a disc instead of producing different discs. Perhaps this will increase world sales. HOwever, your reason to not support Sony is silly, I hate hearing people attack Sony even though they have done much for the electronics industry.

RE: Regions
By Zelvek on 4/17/2006 7:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares if they have done lots for the industry that is their past. Their recent polocies have been sick they treat costomers like shit their warenties are harder to get anything out of than most anyone else, they are too expensive and they keep pushing different formats. sure they have been good for the industry in the past but as of late they seem to be doing more harm than good.

RE: Why??
By hmurchison on 4/17/2006 4:47:47 PM , Rating: 4
Why would anyone buy this.

1. HD-DVD is the DVD Forum "approved" format. Blu Ray was never submitted to the forum for consideration. Thus HD-DVD is likely more "standard" than Blu Ray.

2. Check they have pre-orders for like 15 movies. Netflix will be renting the movies and the units upscale your current dvds to 1080i.

3. 30GB HD-DVDs offer 4+ hours of HD content. Does space really matter when you're buying a precorded disc?

I don't see any reason not to consider the device. It's appeal is price $499 and quality as the movies can look gorgeous. I've seen King Kong playing on a 65" Toshiba WOW.

RE: Why??
By bunnyfubbles on 4/17/2006 5:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
When the recordable discs come out, I'd rather have 25GB per layer with BluRays than 15GB per layer with HDDVDs. Heck, you should be able to fit most HD movies onto a SL BluRay disc.

By hmurchison on 4/17/2006 5:37:44 PM , Rating: 2

HD-DVD-R 15GB or 30GB double sided

HD-DVR-RW 20GB or 40GB double side

To me it all boils down to cost. Both hold enough for me to be happy with.

RE: Why??
By Zelvek on 4/17/2006 7:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
who cares if blu ray cost more?

RE: Why??
By Zelvek on 4/17/2006 8:07:32 PM , Rating: 2
that came out wroung I meen who cares if it can fit that on a single lay if it cost you more?

RE: Why??
By Wwhat on 4/19/2006 7:55:45 AM , Rating: 2
They released porn movies already I hear.
By Charlie Demerjian: Tuesday 18 April 2006, 07:13 WHAT WAS THE FIRST HD DVD title to have a press release hit my inbox? Porn of course, that much is obvious, but the title was a bit of a shock, the nasty 1972 exploitation movie Deep Throat. It will be the first of four titles, said the firm. All will be 'hybrid' releases, with two disks in each release. The first will be a standard def version and the XBox360 WMV/HD version on the flip side. The second disc will have the full HD-DVD copy.

By Schadenfroh on 4/17/2006 3:57:46 PM , Rating: 3
I am going to wait untill there is a clear winner in the BluRay and HDDVD war. Hopefully, we will just have one format win.

RE: Waiting
By allometry on 4/17/2006 4:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to say the same thing, however you have to realize this may be a long wait -- a very long wait.

There's no telling if either format will win out. With the Playstation 3 due out within the decade, the push behind blu-ray will increase parallel to Microsof's push behind HDDVD with XBOX.

My point to saying all this is, wait until the desktop sets combining both BD and HDDVD become available. From how it looks now, both platforms are here to stay...

X360 is not HDDVD
By Exodus220 on 4/17/2006 6:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't knwo if you ever read this, but Microsoft will not support HD DVD for the purpose of making games, it will only create an add-on peripheral that allows the X360 to play HD DVD movies and nothing else. What is the point of that? Why not just buy the separate stand alone player instead of some accessory for your super expensive toy to play movies? Sony, on the other hand, will have their PS3 able to play HD content out of the box, with full support and no need to buy an upgrade or add-on device later.

RE: X360 is not HDDVD
By Decaydence on 4/17/2006 7:08:29 PM , Rating: 2
The only way the 360 drive will be advantageous in any way will be if they can keep the cost down. Because it will only be a barebone drive they should be able to keep the price well under that of a standalone player. If I already own a 360 and i'm choosing between a $150 add-on HDDVD player and a $400 standalone, I'll pick up the add-on.

As far as it not playing games, there have been quite a few good analyses on this and the conclusion tends to be that DVD-9 is more than enough for the entirety of this (next) generation. There are even some schools of though that say the extra storage could promote sloppiness on the part of developers (though this is of course speculation). I personally have no problem with multiple-disc games either. If it keeps prices down, I would rather have two dvd-9's than one blu ray disc. Remember FF7? Multiple discs never presented me with too much hassle.

RE: X360 is not HDDVD
By Exodus220 on 4/17/2006 7:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
I like the FF games with multiple discs because I could lend one disc to my friend and we woudl play at about the same pace, they would only be somewhat behind me.

RE: Waiting
By DangerIsGo on 4/17/2006 4:08:49 PM , Rating: 1
Can you say DVD+R and DVD-R? There was no clear winner there, what makes you think there will be one here? Both standards will be mainstream, just like +/-. You pick whichever one you like.

RE: Waiting
By bunnyfubbles on 4/17/2006 5:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
The differences between + and - DVDs were fairly negligable, whereas (from what I understand) the differences between BluRay and HDDVD are more different, thus there should be a format that is technically superior and should probably win (that format being BluRay.

Although I don't claim to be an expert on the issue, my understanding of the two formats isn't that great and I've read somethings about HDDVD that make it sound not as obviously inferior as I once thought it would be.

RE: Waiting
By lennylim on 4/17/2006 5:08:16 PM , Rating: 2
Fry's Electronics in SF Bay Area advertised 3 movies available on April 18th "subject to manufacturer's delivery" for $20. Google for the ad in SJ Mercury if you're curious.

RE: Waiting
By timmiser on 4/18/2006 4:26:27 AM , Rating: 2
I think as long as they have dual format HD players, it won't matter how different the two technologies are. When you buy a movie, you really won't care what format it is in since you can play either one.

RE: Waiting
By Decaydence on 4/17/2006 6:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
The way I'm looking at it, and who knows if it is a valid way, the dvd-r/dvd+r comparison isn't very valid. The two could exist peacefully because the user was doing the recording. In this situation you are buying the content, not the disc.

If our content choices are hindered because of some rediculous format war, we are screwed; unless every movie is offered in both formats, which doesn't seem to be the case. If every movie is offered in both formats at some point, then the price will be the only factor that matters. The average person isn't interested in which format is superior from a technical standpoint if both formats give a similar end result; even if one does offer a slightly better experience, the gap between the two experiences would have to be huge for price not to be the deciding factor.

It is too bad that the smoke and mirrors that Sony employs with every product it launches is working in this case. Blu ray will make everything more costly for us, the players and the content. HD-dvd is definately large enough for any HD movie, the only difference will be extras and special features that can be thrown on a blu ray disc. Big deal? I have no problem with getting two discs, one with the movie and the other with xtras. And two HD-dvd discs would still be cheaper than one blu ray disc in the long run.

RE: Waiting
By Wwhat on 4/19/2006 7:52:45 AM , Rating: 2
No you're not screwed because all manufacturers announced dual format players, you are only screwed if you jump the gun and but a single format player I'd say.

RE: Waiting
By Decaydence on 4/19/2006 2:45:27 PM , Rating: 2
good point

Sony a standards predator
By dearedhead on 4/17/2006 5:11:50 PM , Rating: 3
Personally I would like to see HD-DVD be the accepted format. I think that Sony's history shows too many instances of their leveraging their position as a consumer electronics giant to introduce new and unnecessary formats and standards.

The Betamax VHS battles of the eighties (Sony supported Betamax), Minidisks, Memory sticks (and Pro etc.) and UMDs are all examples of Sony technology which was introduced when cheaper, better widely accepted alternatives existed.

Unless consumers show Sony that we need innovation and not less capable more expensive alternatives to existing technology which we already own they will continue to make choices which should be simple ( Secure Digital or Compact Flash) more difficult and more expensive, Memory Sticks cost more per MB than Mini SD that is ridiculous.

RE: Sony a standards predator
By bunnyfubbles on 4/17/2006 5:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
MiniDisc technology was actually pretty damn cool. Personally I think its too bad it wasn't widely accepted because it would have made for a killer replacement for floppy discs and CDs (of course a lot of it was Sony's fault for it not catching on) but the technology behind it was wonderful (rugged little discs that can easily and quickly be recorded over and over and over). I can accept and will even join in on bashing Sony's own memory sticks, it's rediculous to make yet another format when it's clearly not needed and just Sony trying to force you to buy more Sony (whereas MD was unique in its own right)

RE: Sony a standards predator
By armagedon on 4/17/2006 5:36:42 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. I forecast that the cost factor will prevail in the end (HDDVD) especially if the image quality is identical. Disk capacity is irrelevant here. Smart move by Toshiba.

RE: Sony a standards predator
By jconan on 4/17/2006 11:28:24 PM , Rating: 2
i got the minidisc back in the days when it was minidsic vs. dat and it wasn't a sony it was a sharp. sony would of probably have owned the digital side if it wasn't for their greed. to think of it it they had open sourced atrac 3 and it would have been standard by now instead of mp3s just like when they opened up their 1.44mb floppies. now it's to little too late and sony's product quality is kinda shoddy not like the 80s when it was still made in nippon...

I agree
By hmurchison on 4/17/2006 5:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
With Blu Ray Sony has basically given us a product that looks superior on paper but "within the context of pre-recorded media" it falls a bit short of what I'd consider an elegant design. How is this you may ask?

1. Blu Ray requires new replicating lines. HD DVD was conceived as a nice upgrade path from DVD-9 replicators and thus as little as $200k can retrofit an existing line to HD-DVD.

2. The lens assembly is much different. The blue laser in a BR player is much closer to the surface. They've done this so that the laser can focus onto very small pits and shine through a very thin protection layer. This enables the ability for 4 layer discs in the future but it also puts your data at risk because the protection layer is 6x thinner(.1mm) than DVD and HD-DVD (.6mm)

3. While the extra storage is nice the newer codecs like VC-1 and h.264 need about 15-19Mbps to be as effective as 25Mbps MPEG2. Thus we can fit 4hrs of video on a 25-30GB disc. Offering 50GB discs is nice but they take a while to record and that's a lot of data that can potentially be lost.

4. Because of the engineering of BR the tolerance are tighter. The thin protection layer means a special hard coat is needed on the disc. This cost more money during the replication process in time and material cost. Sony is subsidizing larger studios but small studios are out of luck on the extra cost.

Thus HD DVD really has the opportunity to be cheap. They are at a studio disadvantage(BR has 7 studios they have 4) right now but they can keep the price pressure on BR.

Should be an interesting battle. LG Electronics is planning on developing a universal BR and HD-DVD player. If they can do this they've made the battle a bit more interesting.

RE: I agree
By Decaydence on 4/17/2006 8:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
As a movie format UMD has failed, and we are talking about movie formats here. I have no problem whatsoever if a company wants to shoot itself in the foot financially by using a propreitary format for their game system. If the UMD failure as a movie format is taken alone, it is obviously not worth mentioning, but when looked at alongside Sony's other proprietary formats, it is at least worth noting.

Perhaps they SEt the Standard
By Exodus220 on 4/17/2006 7:28:01 PM , Rating: 2
It makes me laugh when people use the UMD as some kind of negative thing when referring to Sony and how they create proprietary stuff. Does anyone see the error in this argument? The UMD is for the PSP!!! It is not attempting to take over the world, it is simply what Sony felt woudl be the best format to make games for their device. No one ever gets mad at Nintendo for making their games on cartridges that do not work on aynthing lay off of Sony for the UMD, the argument just does not work in your favor.

Kudos to Sony for trying something outside the box. At least they are willing to try something without wide support from everyone else. But things seem to be quite different this time around with their BluRay, I would put my money on that this time. But I won't put my money anywhere until I can afford the actual unit and justify the product.

RE: Sony a standards predator
By Wwhat on 4/19/2006 8:02:40 AM , Rating: 2
Good points but sony was the first to announce they will (initialy) not have the format-enforcment-bit set on material so you can see HD resolution on non-HDMI screens, that's something at least.
Although sony are asses I'm sure the HD-DVD group are asses too, be careful with that and don't be blindsided.
Perhaps someone else will invent the real usable highdensity format, a third party, how come there was no independant standard developed in the first place instead of these formats controlled by moviecompanies?

By NuroMancer on 4/17/2006 4:32:45 PM , Rating: 2
What size is a HD level movie?
I mean it's all good and well to have massive amounts of space but do we actually need it?
Just Curious

RE: Size?
By ksherman on 4/17/2006 4:36:54 PM , Rating: 2
well, i downloaded a 1080p (maybe it was i, not sure) TV episode a ways back and it was a little over 3.5GB for 42 minutes... so, big!

RE: Size?
By Zagor on 4/17/2006 4:47:21 PM , Rating: 2
I have a copy of the Gladiator in HD sitting on my Media Server and it is 20GB big. Granted it is mpeg2 and not the new h264 but still. This reminds me a bit like the 'famous' quote attributed to Bill Gates in the early days of MS-DOS "640kb ought to be enough for anybody."

By hmurchison on 4/17/2006 4:52:30 PM , Rating: 2
The first level of HD-DVD releases are avg about 15-18Mbps which correlates to 7-8GB per hour. Thus the 30 GB would easily hold 3 hrs of movies plus audio.

RE: Varies
By Staples on 4/18/2006 4:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
I hope that is at 24 frames per second. Any more and that bit rate is not very good at all at 1920x1080.

Plenty of reasons not to buy...
By bjorn47 on 4/17/2006 6:17:51 PM , Rating: 2

If AACS wasn't enough reason...
I'll save my cash, thank you.

By Decaydence on 4/17/2006 7:21:30 PM , Rating: 2
heh, what a waste of time to call for a boycott and create a site for this purpose. Manufacturers release products, faults and all, for purchase consideration. People either buy it or don't after weighing the positives and negatives. I, like most consumers, simply want to be able to load an original disc into a player and watch a high def movie. I understand that this differs from many of you out there, but you are the people that simply won't buy the product. Getting angry about it and calling for boycotts seems a little silly.

With that being said, I hope someone develops a way to get hi-def off of a dvd-9 and that some manufacturers will embrace the method. Strip all the stupid extras, menus, and anything else that isn't video, audio, or subtitles and use an efficient codec and it should be close to feasable.

RE: Plenty of reasons not to buy...
By piroroadkill on 4/18/2006 7:47:07 AM , Rating: 2
The whole point about "If you don't have a HDCP capable TV, you won't be able to view HD video" point is bullshit.

The disc needs to contain an Image Constraint Token to restrict this, and Sony have already said their Blu-ray discs won't restrict people.

It's on a per-studio basis, so while it is a valid concern, it isn't an overriding concern.

HD-DVD is definitely the one I'd chose over Blu-ray, for reasons of cost mainly, but also because I don't want Sony to succeed with a standard on principle; Memory Stick makes me sad.

RE: Plenty of reasons not to buy...
By Wwhat on 4/19/2006 8:05:49 AM , Rating: 2
Sony said that it won't restrict initially, who knows when that sword of damocles falls though.

HD-DVD > BluRay
By VIAN on 4/17/2006 6:04:09 PM , Rating: 2
BluRay may hold more data than HD-DVD, but it's not that much more and it comes at a price premium. What's better? HD-DVD! I'd buy that over BluRay anyday.

RE: HD-DVD > BluRay
By Decaydence on 4/17/2006 7:28:04 PM , Rating: 2
HD-DVD is definately the way the industry should go, however, I think Sony's smoke-and-mirrors and their willingness to tell consumers to go f themselves on behalf of the studios has garnered enough support from studios that they may pull it out this time; unfortunately we will lose regardless of what happens.

In the beginning, if we choose one format (bluray) we will have more choices of movies to watch, but we will still be unable to watch a whole slew of movies and will be raped on costs of hardware and software. If we choose the other format (HDdvd), we will save money on hardware and software, but will be hosed as far as movie selection is concerned. My hope is that the studios aligned with bluray decide to work with HD dvd and blu ray fades away before it is introduced in the US.

Any chance of an Anandtech review??
By Staples on 4/17/2006 10:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
I have seen many forum posts about these things but zero reviews. And I am sure when I do find one, it will be a very very short and useless one like on cnet.

Down with HDDVD
By Visual on 4/19/2006 2:39:16 AM , Rating: 2
I hate you all! How can you possibly want HDDVD to win this? It makes no sense, but I'm tired of providing arguments to it already.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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